Firstly, let me apologise for the quality of the pictures I’ve taken. The dining room is at the front of the house and it’s not a brilliant light source to photograph in.
This armoire cornice is from the one that I tried to put back together in the spare room, but I found it had warped so the doors couldn’t go on. For those who follow the blog (if you don’t please hit the subscribe button) you may remember that I used the ornately carved door panels to add interest to the plain, 1970s style door here.
I’d decided that I’d be using the curved top for this project as soon as I made the decision to use the panels.
One of the reasons I wanted to use the armoire in this way, resulting in just buying another one rather than attempting to fix it, is that it can be far more economical to do this than buy wood carved mouldings for various projects. For example, a large moulding for a door like this one will set you back at least 100€. I can buy an entire armoire for that from a brocante and salvage various pieces to use in numerous projects. So, like I said, hit subscribe because this one armoire will be used in a few more projects coming up.
I know I’m talking armoire here, but the English wardrobe from the spare room could have been used in a similar way.
Just a quick reminder, here is how the doorway in the dining room looked prior to today’s work.
The small moulding just above the door came from another armoire. Our rental property when we moved here was ancient and a wonky floor meant the doors opened in a dangerous way and it collapsed as my husband was putting it together!
The moulding is lovely, but very small and didn’t stand out a lot. So the very first thing was to remove it from the wall as it was still too high to allow the wood moulding to fit above it.
The wood carved moulding is heavy, so I had to be sure that it was firmly secured in place. Here’s how I did it.
Pay attention to your drill choice
I used stone drill bits and two drills. One to drill in the wood of the moulding, and the other for the stone wall. Or what I thought was the stone wall, but more of that in a bit.
Our house is ancient; we know it was built pre 1850, but as the French didn’t keep records until then we can’t be sure exactly when. As a result of its age the majority of the walls are stone and when I first started to try and put up pictures in the house I had to drill into the walls. However it was always hard work as the drill isn’t powerful enough.
The drill I was using for this job actually belongs to my father and had enough power to get the job done. I’m just telling you this as if you’re struggling to drill into walls in a period property it may not be you, but your tool.
To ensure this heavy item stayed on the wall and didn’t come away – with the danger of causing someone serious harm – I used these brackets. They acted as a mini shelf for the moulding to rest on. They only cost about 3€ per bracket and I got four.
I chose these multi use raw plugs that separate as a screw is driven into them, and therefore anchor themselves well into the wall. Make sure the head of the screw is flat, so that the moulding can rest flat against it, and is bigger than the screw hole in the bracket.
Cut off the sides of the armoire top
Obviously the armoire top couldn’t go up as it is, so the top needed to be removed and the sides sawn off. I started it off with a screw driver and hammer to prise as much as I could away, then I used a mini saw that’s used to cut off tree branches to do this rest.
I did this using the measure app on my Apple phone. If you haven’t seen them they are amazing and, as I always have it with me, it means that I’m ready to measure any piece of furniture for possible fits when I see something in the brocante.
Here’s a photo I took of the measurements.As you can see I took them of the arch and the two sides that would touch the brackets.
Then I marked out where the arch and side lengths where on the wall to ensure a central position, and where the holes for the brackets would need to be.
Drill into the wall
When drilling into the wall start by selecting a drill bit which approximately fits the size of the raw plug. If you’re unsure always use the smaller drill bit first; it’s kind of like cooking. You can always add more, but you can never take it away.
Insert the raw plugs and tap them in with a hammer if necessary. Screw the brackets into the wall.
Add the screw holes to the moulding itself
I rested the wood carved moulding in the brackets and was relieved when they bore the weight. Then I marked where the screw holes needed to go, removed the wood and drilled into the markings.
Prior to placing the moulding on the wall I covered it in no more nails type super glue. Many of you will have noticed the little holes in the wood, it’s obviously had termites. Elsewhere in the armoire it was evident these had been dealt with with a dark, wax substance which was plugging the holes. However the back of the wood obviously wasn’t dealt with.
When I rubbed the wood with my finger there was no residue. I’ve found that active holes will have this. Even so I used so much glue not just to ensure the wood stuck well to the wall, but to plug those holes and stop any termite spread. That’s why there’s so much glue.
Place the moulding in the brackets and screw in place
With the moulding in position, glued and screwed. In place it was onto making it look more polished.
Applying additional wood mouldings
The next thing I did was put the previous, ornate wood moulding back on the door. I just used no more nails type glue to do this, in the exact same method as the wood mouldings on the coving.
Then I glued and added these quarter rounds to the top of the door frame and bottom of the main moulding to cover the brackets and finish the job nicely.
Using filler in stages
Add wood filler or acrylic filler to fill any gaps. Do this in stages as if you keep smoothing over the same area it may result in the filler just being pushed back into any gaps, rather then creating a filled surface. You can see two stages of filler below, note the difference between the first two images and the last one.
Each time you apply filler smooth it out as much as possible with your finger. It’s very hard to go back and correct acrylic filler in particular as it has a plasticky texture that can’t be sanded easily.
Here it was before….
Here It is the mouldings fixed to the wall. Obviously I’ve just painted it white so far, it’s just an undercoat. I need to decide whether I paint the whole door and maybe even panelling teal.
You’ll notice the little square gaps in the detail are; the struts went there. I’ve ordered some additional square, carved appliqués and will add them prior to painting properly. At present though this little job coast around 20€? Not bad.