Bricolage is defined by Wikipedia as “tinkering” but I’d say it’s closer to do-it-yourself home improvement. But it is more than a pastime or a chore. In France, it is an institution, a sacred art form.

BricolageMy DIY project: stencils around the door handle

I don’t know the exact statistics, but from my empirical research, I am certain France has more Home Depot-esque stores per capita than any other country. There’s Leroy Merlin, Mr. Bricolage, Castorama, Bricolex, Bricomarché… the list of warehouse-sized home improvement chains goes on and on. My personal favorite is the basement of the Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville, better know as BHV. I have yet to look for something in there that they don’t carry (although sometimes I am delayed in finding what I am looking for as I don’t know the name of the item in English, let alone in French!)

At BHV… unless this is a British thing, I believe there’s a typo in this sign

So as a true French homeowner, I decided this Fall it was time to do a few home improvement projects. I didn’t get too far without professional help. But I did succeed at one small project of which I am very proud: I stenciled a pattern around the door handles of my bathroom, adding a bit of color and texture to an otherwise all-white door.

photo (7)The new bathroom tile

Then came the professional assistance. I asked my new contractor to come in and basically fix the multitude of things the original contractor had screwed up. On the list for this time:

  • Rebuild my kitchen table/countertop so it’s sturdier and now on wheels
  • Replace one of the bathroom tiles
  • Fix the curtain rods so they won’t come tumbling down
  • Place an isosonic (noise-reducing) pad under the washer/dryer
  • Re-caulk the bathroom sink and shower

I can always find something more to do if I look hard enough, but I’m happy to have this list completed. Now time to start my list for next year!