I went to the brocante over the weekend and bought this Henry II buffet. These normally go for anywhere between 30-100€. I bought this for 2€; I spotted it a while ago, but it was only 25€ then. It’s obviously something they just wanted rid of now.
Although I had to pay 30€ for delivery it worked out the same amount that I was about to spend on wood to finish off the ‘vestibule’ under the stairs. I could use wood from this to do that and I’d have something to use as a project that I wanted to finish before Christmas.
So, before I tell you what it’s going to be used for let me know…..how would you use it?
I thought I’d focus this post not so much on the how to, but the what to use in terms of recycled items. It’s not only good for the environment in terms of less landfill, but saves money, time in terms of shopping trips, packaging, and fuel going to get/having delivered the resources.
I’ve always loved this style of French cane chairs…
Gorgeous isn’t it? So when I saw this on le Bon Coin I knew I wanted it. For 35€ it was a good price too, particularly as the style above is sold in the region of $1,500…
The fabric is obviously 🤢, but the frame is solid with no woodworm and the springs are strong. I checked this when I went to buy it, but the other thing I noticed was that the seat cushion filling is a little strange. It’s sort of….crispy 🤨. Not dirty, but it has a crispy kind of sound when you press it. Weird.
So straight away I knew that this would need to be replaced. That’s ok though. As many of you who follow the blog know I like to salvage as much as I can, so I actually have some feather pads and foam from furniture that is no longer wanted for various reasons. When I first started doing up old furniture I was shocked at just how expensive these items can be, so now any furniture that may have been just taken to the tip gets a good going over to see what can be kept in the attic until I can use it.
You can see that my chair and the one I like are different in shape, which I’m ok with, but the back rest is very different. It doesn’t have wings, but I wandered if behind the padding was more cane. When I got it home I started to look under the fabric and found this…
A solid wood frame, and some strange wadding. It also reeks of cat, yuck.
So there’s no lovely rattan back to reveal, so that’s going to have to be reupholstered in a similar style, but I wanted a more modern wadding. Under the seat pad it looks like this….
The wood itself I really like and, although I had intended to give the chair the whitewashed effect of the target chair, I started to think I’d actually like to keep it as it is. The one thing that gave me pause was the idea that I already had this ottoman….
which I thought would go really well with the chair. However it’s legs were painted white, so I needed to check out if if they could be made like the chair, or if the chair would need to be made like the ottoman. Either away I wanted to bring the chair more in line with this structure on the left, so that I can put the two together like the one on the right…
I knew I’d need to have a second pad on the top of the ottoman that will match that on the chair. So let’s get to work.
After removing the fabric and wadding at the back of the chair I could see those strong springs and this interior section which is still in good shape.
Here’s the front – I’ve yet to hoover off the remainder of the wadding. As I focus on recycling it’s obvious that this is something that can be maintained.
I had to unscrew the side arms to remove the material tucked in. It was hard going as it’s a well made piece.
I disconnected the two springs holding the material that he’d the seat pad above in place and removed it, splitting the worn material open to reveal this deteriorated sponge. I shook that out and washed the remaining material; this and the internal panel was kept. It might not be pretty, but is still strong fabric. So it needed to be washed and have foam placed on top to replace the interior foam. The frame and back were hoovered really well as it was mainly in good condition.
I then used some salvaged foam from a sofa bed that we aren’t going to be using in this home. I cut a foam seat pad in half before cutting it into the shape of the backrest. The second half was going to be used on the seat.
I used fabric glue spray to attach the foam to the seat back, and added fresh wadding from an unused throw cushion that I stapled into place with its interior lining.
The remainder of that sofa bed is going to be used on other projects, so I’ll keep you updated.
The rest of the chair was covered with this knew, lavender velvet material. I also added a new seat pad from the additional back cushions of the sofa bed….
Then for the ottoman.
I made another pad from the sofa bed cushion and sewed one side of a zip along its length. Then I sanded the legs and stained them with this stain and wax, left it two hours then buffed it into a shine.
I took material sufficient to cover the original ottoman and placed it on top of it. Then I put the new pad on top and pushed into both ends of the other side of the zip, then further pinned it along its length. Undoing the zip entirely, I then sewed the second half to the still loose material.
Reattaching the two sides of the zip to make sure the pad was placed correctly I stapled the material on the four sides of the ottoman with one staple each side. After removing the zip again I then stapled the fabric to the ottoman and covered the base in the contrasting fabric.
I’d already added grey piping to the pads, but now I finished the project with some gold, nail-head trim.
It has a very different feel to the target chair, but it goes very well with the room. My daughters love it. Its positioning in t window gives it a perfect place to read and dream 🥰.
I said that I was going to share how to use insulating primer to save you time and money when chalk painting old furniture white. As part of my review of the living room, developing it so that it reflected a American French Country style theme, I painted this piece white.
A quick word before we start. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a small bookcase or cupboard with interesting features. I’ve found that buying buffet tops gives you a piece with decorative character for little money. Most are small as they sit on top of something else so, whereas an ornate buffet may be a squeeze in your home, these repurposed won’t.
This buffet had damaged stained glass doors. I managed to salvage one, but the other may not be saved. Still working on it. However taking the doors off still left me with a lovely bookcase/console style table for fifteen euros. The glass door I have salvaged will be used elsewhere so more on that later.
Here is the cupboard having been spray painted with insulating primer….
I obviously did the spraying elsewhere, then moved it to paint with chalk paint. Here’s a close up of the primer….
It’s bobbly, but it can be easily sanded down.
The reason it’s advisable to use on dark, vintage pieces is that it stops the old varnish bleeding into the new paint and causes ugly stains. When you clean a piece prior to painting then you may notice on your cloth lots of dark colour. It’s more than likely it hasn’t been that dirty and it’s the stain already bleeding. That’s when you reach for the insulating primer spray. It will seal the nasty and let you get on with the job.
Here’s the finished piece; chalk painted white on the exterior and the French grey of the rose table on the interior…..
The mirror was a dark brown, wood one that was only 13€. For some reason these are incredibly cheap whereas buying a gold mirror is expensive. However painting it gold uses hardly any gold paint and is a quick job. If it’s a square or rectangular shape it’s even easier as you can just mask off and spray paint it.
What furniture have you repurposed in your home? Have you ever had a varnish bleed disaster? What did you do about it?
You may remember my beautiful Art Nouveau stove that I managed to find at a brocante, well it’s been sat in my front room with fairy lights in it. It won’t be it’s final home, but I love it so much I couldn’t let it sit there on its own. The lights are so effective that I regularly walk into the room and think ‘Oh lovely, a f…oh no, no fire’.
The other day we had guests for dinner and one of our guests sat in a chair that is situated behind the chimney area. He did a double take as he suddenly realised there was no flue and went to check the front. Here’s what it looks like….
Anyway, we definitely want a working woodburner, so I was super excited to find this Art Deco one in the same brocante. It was only 80€ and as a regular stove costs upwards of 1500€ I thought it was worth a gamble. Here are the pictures…
and this is a more detailed look at the other stove.
Art Nouveau is my favourite decor period; it has the more restrained elements of the Edwardian period, after the excess of the Victorians, but still maintains beautiful, intricate details. The decorative style wasn’t as commercial as the aesthetic it’s ofen confused with, Art Deco, primarily because the latter is more easily mass produced having cleaner lines. However where I find Deco too sparse and clinical (sorry to you Deco fans), for me Nouveau communicates the romance and, perhaps, innocence of the prewar period.
I naturally gravitate to the colours of the period too and have found, having researched it, that many of the decor items I already owned are of this time. In fact if you look in my wardrobe it reflects this tableau of era’s colours.
The tones are far lighter than the Victorian palette, primarily because of new technologies. The Victorians had acquired wealth, so their decor was opulent with lots of fuss and nicnacs in order to show that new found money, but due to the gas lighting a lot of the textures and colours were sought for their capacity to hide the resulting soot marks. With the introduction of electricity this wasn’t such a necessity.
I say all this to introduce you to a find I fell for today – hook, line and sinker. This little Art Nouveau stove. It’s dirty and I doubt I’ll be able to get it to work, but I still couldn’t resist it. The beautiful intricate metalwork, that soft Art Nouveau blue – heaven.
I naturally did a little research on it as it’s name was proudly emblazoned on the top. I found this website of a company near Fareham, coincidentally my old stomping ground, where they refurbish old, French stoves. They’re a mine of information.
The company, Deville & Cie of Charleville in the Ardennes, called the model ‘le non pareil’, or the none equalled. The French Antique Stove refurbishment company found it advertised in Deville’s 1930s catalogue with the subsequent information on it.
The stove was manufactured in the early part of the Art Deco movement, with production between 1925-1935, however the style is evidently Art Nouveau.
The design, described as a ‘pôele à bois’ visible et continue’ by the manufacturers, was revealed at the 1925 Paris exhibition. It was developed with style conscious Parisians in mind. The site continues that if you look carefully at the film Chocolat, you can see a honey brown “le non pareil” in Judi Dench’s character’s parlour, but I’ve done an internet search and can’t find any images (not even on one of my favourite sites Hooked on Houses),
Here are some close ups of the working stove on the refurbishment site, just to give you a taster of what mine will look like when it’s been cleaned up a little. Mine won’t be in situ for a while; I have to finish the kitchen first (as well as the finishing touches on the dining room and the soft furnishings in the living room) and then move to what will be the family dining room. So, lots of work. Can you tell I’m loving it?
I love this painting, it reminds me of the french revolutionary period. It’s incredibly old. However, my husband doesn’t love it as much. He actually encouraged people to vote on whether she was attractive or not once; let’s just say that I could see how devastating the Tinder app could be for teenage girls nowadays.
I have an entire dinner service like this, with different scenes on the plates. It goes exactly with the shades of teal and blush pink I have in the dining room. No way Autuman is here I’m waiting for a dressy Sunday lunch to get it out. When I do I’ll post it in all it’s glory, so subscribe if you want to see it.
Art Nouveau bust
I know I posted about this here, but I couldn’t resist including it in my latest favouraite Brocante buys top ten (for the devious one take a look here).
I love the carved side mirrors on this, as you know Art Nouveau is one of my favourite decor periods. It’s evidently a homage to the period as this light wood would never have been used during this period. I orginally thought of painting it, inspired by similar painted pieces on Pinterest. However I decided in the end to keep it as it is; I didn’t want to risk spoiling it.
Just two of my lovely chandeliers. I’m avoiding posting some of the others as many of the have carpeted walls for a background as you saw in the house tour when we first moved in.
These was my Christmas gift from my mother. We’d spotted it together when we were in the brocante and I loved it. It’s Art Deco and beautifully feminine. I have plenty of vintage tea sets, but this is my first coffee set. As our friendships here progress I hope to be able to bring it out for a café with friends. So far I’ve been using a set I don’t mind destroying as I haven’t wanted to risk it with the children around.
This wasn’t from a Brocante, but leboncoin.com – a site where individuals sell unwanted items. These bistro tables were traditionally used to display patisserie on, with the marble top keeping them cool.
As he’s called in our house. I saw him in the Brocante with my friend who was travelling through to her holiday destination, with a planned stop on the way back. When I pointed him out she looked at me oddly, evidently wondering what was I thinking. I mean, he isn’t a pink Jesus. Then when we got home she saw Mary in the dining and exclaimed ‘That’s why you wanted him. Yes, you need to get him’ out of the blue. So convinced of this was she that when she returned she actually reminded me of him.
I love his golden heart – what a perfect centrepiece for Easter?
These were a bargain at 25€, and I think serviceable. They’re obviously on the small side as a set, but I hope to add bigger pieces to them. I’m gradually starting to do up the room that will be our kitchen – it will take a while as we need the big electrical items as well as new flooring. Nevertheless I already have most of the cupboards we’re going to use, as I’ve opted for free standing vintage pieces for a farmhouse look. I’ll update you on that in the coming weeks and months (I think it will take that long to get the money together).
I actually had bought two large, black and white photographic prints taken at the turn of the last century of the area surrounding us whilst we were in rented accommodation here in France. I loved them and was keeping them seperate, waiting to put them up in our new home. I’d wrapped them carefully, but somehow along the way they got lost in our move. I’ve searched and searched, praying all the time to, as yet, no avail.
So when I saw these prints in our Brocante they went some way to making up for their loss. They’re actually hung in the hallway but, again, the brown carpeted walls put me off photographing them in situ.
I found this beautiful bust in a Brocante high up on a shelf. It’s incredibly heavy and you can see inside where it’s been worked in the plaster, so I think it’s an original rather than a copy from a mould.
I’d been wandering around looking for something special to fill a little spot in our home and as I walked and looked I noted things that I might come back to. But she just spoke to me in spite of her slightly distressed appearance, or maybe because of it. There was no additional thinking needed, she was the one.
As I walked with her, the weight heavy in my arms, I fell under her charm even more. The gentle blush of her cheeks, the mauve on her eyelid – she’s been exquisitely painted.
She’s obviously of the Art Nouveau period, the lilies swirling around are typical of that style. Further, the pale lavenders and pinks go beautifully with our living room.
After I’d paid for her I noticed a man look at her, then silently catch the attention of his wife and signal to her to look too. They seemed to politely watch our progress, evidently in the hope that I’d place her down somewhere. Alas for them I walked out of the brocante and placed her lovingly in the car to take home.
I was rather perturbed when I was repeatedly asked the question ‘are you going to fix it?’ No! She’s beautiful as she is. It reminds me of Shakespeare’s sonnet 116;
“Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no, it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand’ring bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
Love. Beauty. An objective reality pointing to the existence of the divine.
I found this chandelier in a state at a local Brocante for 4€. I was so excited because, even though it was badly tarnished, the detail was exquisite. I had placed it in the passenger seat next to me in the car and was driving to pick up the girls when I glance over at a set of traffic lights to admire my special find. That’s when I noticed it, the parts where the light bulbs where held had the electrics burnt away.
My heart sank – would I have to throw this beautiful thing away?
My mind whirred – what could I do with it instead. It simply couldn’t end up in landfil! I considered removing the electrics completely, gluing tealights holders in their place and hanging it from a tree outside as a form of external, candle lighting for al fresco dining.
Then one day in the supermarket I saw what I realised were replacement light fittings. I bought one and asked my Pops, who lives here in France, could they be used to replace the destroyed ones?
My dad’s a star! After much tinkering he managed to attach it. We ordered more and the remainder were replaced to.
When we first moved here at Christmas I took it out and set to work cleaning it. An entire week later and an aching arm saw a gleaming, beautiful chandelier.
Halfway through the project I’d lost the will to live. My mother in law was over for Christmas and she’d sat with me as I’d scrubbed with brasso. At one point, about two thirds of the way through, I looked up and said “maybe I should just paint it white?” She’s from the rougher parts of London, but as a grammar school girl she sounds posh and is a cultured woman who is able to relate to everyone, irrelevant of class. At this moment though it was like an Eliza Doolittle moment as she exclaimed “What after all that work!!!”
So I reconsidered.
After the job was finished I put the chandelier away with the view of putting it up as soon as possible, however other things have intervened. With the completion of the ceiling medallion I couldn’t resist putting them both up this weekend.
Unlike the light under the stairs, or in the laundry room or even our bedroom this was a trickier task and I had to call in my hubby to help after I did started as it was too heavy to do all on my own. Nevertheless when the bulbs where in and the candle cap shades where on I was so pleased with the result.
When we rented an old farmhouse in France we found that many of the lights just had wires and a bulb attached. The house owner wasn’t a cheapskate – it’s normal here. Sometimes the bulbs go too! Whenever I remember this I’m struck by the generosity of the people who we bought from as they left not just light shades, but curtains and others things too.
As a result, and because we had planned to stay there a long time originally, I bought many light fixings. One of them was an empire chandelier. It looked a little bedraggled in the shop, but having taken it a part and cleaned it up I think it looks fine now.
You may notice too the ceiling rose which I’ve painted along with the ceiling. It was quite tricky being that it was in situ, and as a result I didn’t take any photos to show you how I got the slight, white edging on the leaves. I’m going to do another soon for the hallway and as it’s in a box at the moment I’ll do a step by step then.
This is a look before…
and after the ceiling rose has been painted….
You can see the cornice and dado rail that I’ve been putting up too, but I’ll tell you about that soon. Sorry about the quality of the photos, the room is a little dark as it’s north facing and a grey day here. If I can I’ll upload better photos later.
This post has been recycled from a former blog when we where living in our rented property.
I was in a local Brocante, amongst the dust and the mess, next to some shelves holding a higgildy piggildy mess of pictures chatting to my Pops when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye – an oil painting. I new straight away what it was, I could see the way the light caught the brushwork and like a fox on the scent I was straight over their to pick it up.
“How did you spot that from over there?” Pops said. I’d love to say it was some Brocante buyers instinct, but it wasn’t. Just luck I guess, but confirming it was an oil wasn’t, that took three simple steps.
Look At The Back
The foolproof way of telling if it’s an oil is to look at the back; if you can see the paint coming through the canvas then it’s an oil.
Look At The Back Too
Whilst you’re round there look at the frame itself. Some oils have a canvass wadding place over the painting, but the obvious age of the frame will be a tell if it’s a clever reproduction or not. This picture wasn’t a good example of that, but my oil in the header is.
Look At The Texture
A lot of reproductions now have a textured surface to make them appear as if they’re an oil, so to be sure you’ve managed to bag a bargain, have a look and see if there are clear brush marks that correspond with the paint marks themselves. A reprint will have a consistent pattern of marks, an oil won’t.
In this selection here I have three oils, and a definite watercolour. The most expensive was 43€, then 9€, then an unbelievable 1€. Which one do you think is which?