Talk about a fixer upper: When an Australian couple purchased the "almost ruined" Château de Gudanes in 2013, they did so after being able to see just four of its 94 rooms. After four years of reconstruction, the 18th century property in the south of France will be welcoming its first guests, starting this summer.
Located in the Ariège region of France, the property overlooks the Midi-Pyrénées. It was originally built between 1741 and 1750, during the reign of King Louis XV. It is said to have been designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who designed the Petit Trianon at Versailles, for Louis Gaspard de Sales, Marquis de Gudanes, who was an influential member of the Toulouse Parliament and known as the King of the Pyrénées.
When Karina and Craig Waters of Perth purchased it, though, it was barely still standing, let alone reflective of its aristocratic roots; they could only safely enter a fraction of its many rooms: "Most were inaccessible because there were no ceilings or floors," Karina told the Daily Mail. "Trees were growing inside and on the roof!"
The Waterses have hauled 500 tons of rubble from inside the property, and have rebuilt the walls with the permission of Historic Monuments of France. Additional changes are awaiting approval, and the owners have been working on smaller projects since.
Even after four years, the place is very much a "restoration journey-in-progress." Nevertheless, Château de Gudanes will open starting this summer for a range of four-to-eight-day experiences, including one where you can travel around the region with the Château's restorer, shopping secondhand markets and attic sales.
While it hasn't been easy (the property had never been fitted for electricity or heat before they bought it), they admit the restoration will be a "lifelong commitment."
"As the restoration journey progresses it becomes clearer to us each day that we need to learn to slowly adapt ourselves to the château, rather than forcibly demand her to adapt to us," said Katrina.
Personally, we're in love with the crumbly European chic charm of it all, and so are they. "It won't be about overcrowding the walls with paintings or overflowing the floors with furnishings, but will be relatively minimalistic—a place to simply rest, breathe and enjoy the calm."
'The château is a keeper of memories, and whatever we endeavor to do in the future will be about passing on and sharing these memories, and the past itself."
More old spaces
h/t House Beautiful