Philippe served everyone champagne, and toasts were raised to the future of the newlyweds and to the success of La Cage Atelier. Suzanne had left the design firm where she and Renee had worked together, and had joined an architectural firm where she and Paul met. Renee was pleased to hear their positive professional comments about the studio. They were very interested in hearing about the transformation of the little pastry shop into an elegant design studio. Philippe showed them his journal with some of the before and after photographs. They were amazed, especially when he told them about the ceilings.
He explained that during their first walk through the building with the realtor, Renee had expressed surprise at the low unadorned ceilings. Especially on the upper level. From the outside, the high steeply sloped roof would suggest a high ceiling, maybe even a dome, would be found inside. They learned that decades ago, false ceilings had been put in place to conserve heat. The realtor, knowing that the building, despite its small size, was a hot property because of its supreme location, wasn't concerned about his clients reactions. He told them that the shop would be sold "as is" and if they were not interested he had another buyer waiting. Renee and Philippe looked at each other knowingly and said "We'll take it."
Their first remodeling efforts would be the ceilings. Once the workmen began prying away the thin wooden panels, that had simply been nailed to overhead beams, they were surprised to discover that underneath the plain board panels were painted beams! Decorative painted beams! Renee and Philippe could not believe their eyes. Despite the nail holes, the decorated beams were still beautiful, the colors still bright. By the time the entire ceiling was exposed, Renee was already visualizing what this room would soon look like.
But there were more surprises waiting. Renee and Philippe could hardly wait until the upper ceiling was removed. That removal proved to be more difficult. The panels which covered the upper ceiling were held in place by sturdy beams running parallel to the length of the room. Those in turn were held up by vertical beams placed on either side of the windows. When the first panel was finally able to be removed, the workmen again expressed surprise, but it was one of disappointment. "There is nothing above it, just space", they said. But as more panels came down the empty space was revealed to be a dome. An elaborately painted dome. This time Renee and Philippe could just stare in silent wonder. The rounded corners and sides of a square dome were outlined with designs similar to the ones on the beams downstairs. Again, the colors were surprisingly bright. Renee loved the colors, a blue which she called Salon Blue and shades of pink and coral.
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