The main reason for renovating Pomme gite was because of the staircase. The original staircase had been put in ‘on a budget’ and was a straight, open treaded pine staircase. You can see it behind the rocking chair on the left of the first picture. Because people often don’t like open treaded staircases, the previous owner had nailed a piece of plyboard on the back. The problem with this is that the treads were not wide and now your feet could not poke through to the other side, making it feel even more like a ladder!

Very early on, we took off the piece of plyboard, but there was still a problem that where the stairs arrived on the top floor it was on the side the building under the sloping roof. The ceilings are very low and it meant having to bend over at an angle to step onto the upstairs floor. This was acceptable going up, but going down took a bit of getting used to.

Generally people like the gite, finding it cosy and full of character. However during the five years here, I have had two older clients who were not happy at all with the stairs, happily they were in quiet periods and I was able to re-house them in other gites.

The new stairs had to be made to measure, and my main aim was to have them arrive in the middle of the room upstairs, so that the sloping ceilings were not and issue.

Stairs take up a lot of room downstairs, so the solution was to move them to one end of the gite and to turn through 90° twice to arrive at the top.

The stairs took about a week to install, the carpenters also built me a stairgate at the top, which I am really pleased with. They are made in a hardwood called Movingui, which is yellow/orange in colour. I experimented on scraps of wood with various stains and varnishes, and eventually decided that it was best with just a clear varnish (the upstairs photo shows the first coat of varnish on the left hand side).