I’m about to move onto the kitchen floor, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on the areas that I’ve managed to finish. Nearly all ‘above ground’ is now done, apart from the two lengths of ceiling that I have to leave incomplete because of the electrics that need finishing. So ignore the floor, and let me tell you how I’ve been getting along…
I posted about this bookcase that I turned into an open, shelving unit. Here it is now with the decorative brackets attached and stained and varnished brown. As I said in my previous post, I’d realised that I was going to struggle finding a buffet unit narrow enough to fit on this wall without it meeting the oven shelf. I’d dreaded moving it as I knew I’d need to strip it again….😫. But I think it looks good here.
The bookcase now cupboard was replaced with this buffet top. It is the partner to a base which I’m going to reduce its width and lace beside the oven. The space directly next to the oven will hold a gas bottle, so only the right side will be a working cupboard. Nevertheless it should give me extra workspace too.
You can see the side cupboards which I can now show you without cropping images to emit the mess behind the open doorway. The area just beyond is a mini vestibule entryway which leads to what was the doctors waiting room. This will be my next project – knocking through to create a long, formal dining room. The doorway is a hollow, 1970s plain door. Not appealing. I’ll be posting about how I developed into this tongue and groove door.
My girls have been sitting at the island already 😊.
I’ve started to add some more decor. I’ll be changing the wreath on the mirror door as the pinks are too bright with the more subdued tones of the other decor. I think these other pieces add a more grown up feel to the pink. The painted milk churn is going to be used to store twigs to start the fire eventually.
Speaking of the fire I’ve spray painted this fireback and basket with high temperature spray paint. I have an appointment next Thursday to clean the chimney.
As well as gingerbread elements in the cupboards I told you in this post how I wanted to develop an aea with this detail. This is where the staircase was, and I finally managed to create a false ceiling here. Above it is a staircase, so no one will need to stand there. I couldn’t add beams, so I just tongue and grooved the area and then glued squares of light, pattern polystyrene tiles. They have a flower pattern, which suits the kitchen stile, and I disguised the tile edges with this trim.
The gingerbread elements are actually all sorts of finials, brackets, decorative furniture legs, a side strut of a bed….just everything really. I hope it works, but I’m trying to disguise the huge cement beams which were there to hold the ceiling up in spite of the staircase opening. As you can see the pendant light will fit where the arch is, and this will rest just above the dining table. I still need to repaint and add more acrylic to fill in the gaps.
The final one I want to show you is the cooker shelf and the tiles. The latter are from Bricocash, which is well worth a visit if you live in France and have one near you. Their considerably less expensive than Bricomarche- I got these tiles for 8€ a 30×30 square. I tried to grout them without letting the grout nestle in their crevices; however, even with a sealant applied prior to the grout it didn’t work. I still like the effect though.
You can see that I’ve tongue and grooved the doorway, but I’m waiting for the last bit of electrics to be done before finishing the final, wall section. I’m going to do more work here, I’m thinking of painting the door. But just changing the door handle gives it less of a upvc look, don’t you think?
Please God the COVID restrictions for travel end soon. My husband’s business is in the tourism industry, so there will be no electrics without his salary. And that’s the least of our worries.
The bookcases that were in situ when we arrived in our french home have previously been developed with gingerbread features, mantle and a sliding door for one, along with using a wonderful fruit bas relief and an added spice rack for the second. That’s amongst other things. The vast majority have been from recycled material and I feel like they really add something.
I found these cupboard doors in a brocante and I was struck how much they echoed the pattern of the doors from the buffet I’ve since cut down. A later brocante buy of our fireplace has a similar design and, whilst walking home, having dropped my daughters at the village school, I started to think about how they’d suit the kitchen. I’d intended to use them in the hallway, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense.
When I arrived I measured the width of the doors and found them too wide, so I knew I’d have to narrow them. Even with my circular saw it was tough going, but with that and the hand plane I’d managed to sufficiently reduce them.
Next step was to ensure they didn’t have termites. I’d inspected them in the shop, but in bright light there were some obvious termite holes that I’d missed in one of the corners. They weren’t painted or varnished, so I went ahead and put three coats of termite killer/deterrent on both sides. Then I painted them with several coats; starting with primer and moving onto chalk paint, prior to finishing them with two coats of water based varnish.
I used similar hinges and method of attaching them as I did with the shutters. After I checked they hung properly I took the hinges off of the bookcase/cupboard and painted the latter with a couple more coats of chalk paint. I’d been delaying that whilst I mulled over whether to knock through the wall that will be the pantry, but I’ve decided not to now, so there won’t be a lot of dust from that; hence my going back to painting these cupboards.
I’ve been doing lots in here during my posting absence, and I plan to update you soon. However it feels a lot more like a kitchen in – except there’s no sink.
And no oven.
But definitely, definitely a kitchen.
So the next week or so I plan to do one last coat of paint, sand and varnish throughout then….the floor. Insert daunting music here.
I’d love to have a traditional, wood kitchen door but, as with the front door, I have to admit that the upvc is the better option living her in Normandy. Being so close to the U.K. we have similar, rainy weather and it’s often cold. If ours was just a holiday home I’d insist on finding a wood door to replace the one we have. However, and I hate to say it, we have to be practical. So the upvc door stays. Boooo!
Wíth that being said working on the kitchen has allowed me the opportunity to notice the pool of water that inevitably ends up around the door when there’s a heavy downpour. Thank God I wasn’t in a position to go straight ahead with the flooring.
So before I could start with decorating the area I had to ensure it would remain dry. Cue my standing outside, up a step ladder with watering can in hand pouring water over the door to see where the water was coming through. It seemed to be coming through the bottom of the door frame. This gave me three points of entry;
the holes in the door frame, there for letting the water be released out safely, could be blocked,
the seals on the door itself could have deteriorated and need replacing,
the seals around the frame could have deteriorated
Holes in the doorframe
If you have the same problem a good clean of the door may resolve it. This is what the holes look like….
They were filled with gunk, so I was hopeful this would be the cause of the problem. You see, rain water is meant to go through these holes and pass safely out of the bottom of the door. Alas, having spent some time removing debris that could cause a blockage another go with the watering can demonstrated more work needed to be done.
Next came an inspection of the door itself. You can see that there has been some sealant that now appears to be braking down. It actually looks like this has been applied post the door’s insertion by hand. I scraped this away and applied some transparent sealant.
If you live in France you might want to know that I applied the one on the left below. However as I was working I kept looking down and could see that the water seemed to be seeping through underneath the door area. So I moved onto using the one on the right to seal between the door and the masonry.
Seals around the door frame
This was coloured grey, perfect for the stonework of our home. I just ran some masking tape in a straight line around the door frame before running a strip of this into the corner prior to smoothing it out with my finger. I just did about 10cms light application and then smoothed as a little went a long way.
I used it along the bottom on the inside too, just to make sure.
A rainstorm after this proved they’re now in working order again – hurrah!
Ive since started to tongue and groove the interior of the door frame. I’ll add a post on that soon.
In my last post on making a dishwasher housing unit cupboard out of salvaged wood I told you that the worktop I’d bought wasn’t sufficiently wide enough now that I’d had to add on more depth to the cupboard itself.
In the images you’ll see how this corner of the room is far from squared off. This means that in order to be able to get the dishwasher to sit in there the side of the cupboard needed extending.
I’d left the project overnight whilst I mulled over how I’d overcome the problem and having thought it through a narrow shelf seemed to be a good solution. You can see the images that inspired me to do that here.
I was using the salvaged steps from the staircase I’d removed from the room; which meant cutting them to size, and sanding them down. Then I added a couple of coats of termite treatment, just in case.
When sufficient time had passed I glued the piece that would be flat against the wall first. You’ll see I keep changing glue. I prefer the white glue as it seems to be more robust and dries quicker; however the transparent version feels oilier and seems to take long to dry. The latter needs to be used when there’s a possibility of it being seen though.
Here’s the first block…
Here’s it against the wall. The treatment actually gave it a pretty finish…
The end overhangs a little, but I’m not going to worry about that until I can work out how to approach the sink area.
Next is the end wood; I’ve used the transparent on the bottom and white glue on the side where it will come in contact with the white T&G.
Then for the front piece; transparent throughout, starting with the end that’s going to fit snuggly into the wood along the length of the wall….
…and then some glue on the back for where it’s going to connect with the other side piece…
…this is it in situ…
You can see that I didn’t tile right into the back corner – it’s not going to be seen and I brought those tiles with me on a trip from the UK. They’re Laura Ashley and there’s only a few of them.
The cut out strips in the wood are from where they fitted into the uprights. I wanted to match them to the window area, so I glued some 1cm 1/4 rounds to them.
Next I added a strip of wood along the back wall. This was glued in place and will help hold up the narrow shelf. I made sure it was level with the top of the front shelf with a spirit level. In theory anyway….
Then I cut another piece of salvaged wood to act as a shelf. You’ll see that even though the wood that runs parallel to the back wall is horizontal the gap narrows the further into the corner it goes due to the angle of the two walls. So I used a similar method cutting this as the top of the window encasement – I measured one end, then the other before drawing the line between the two at the appropriate angle.
Having cut the wood I kept having to plane/sand the sides to get it to fit snugly in the gap. Once in I ran some 1/4 round on the edge and well as putting some in the gaps that run along the wood…
The annoying thing is that whilst working on this I must have pushed too hard and made the shelf dip slightly. You don’t notice it on a casual glance, but the tins i plan to put there do dip slightly 🤪.
There were some gaps in the wood because, obviously, I’m not an expert at this – I used tinted wood filler to hide these…
It doesn’t look very pretty at this moment, but here it is after I’ve sanded and varnished it..
Here’s the finished, as far as I can now anyway, version…
I’ve taken all those sharp edges off with the sander too. Ha! It’s a little dusty from all the woodwork!
I’ve added a curtain which can be pulled back and tucked behind the post when loading the dishwasher. I’ve also added that iron towel holder for tea towels; I think it compliments the iron sewing machine stand. More on that later 😊.
The first thing I did for our stone hearth is ensure I had the Right cement, that is one made specifically for the heat of the fire. In France this is called mortier réfractaire.
Mine was ready to use after adding water.
As we were re-using stone from the old, raised fireplace I laid these out in the hearth area. It’s important to note the biggest stone, in terms of depth, in a project like this. This will have the least amount of cement underneath it and others will need additional cement to level them off. Obviously if your hearth material is of equal depth then this isn’t something you need to consider.
After noting the biggest stone I then put a little piece of masking tape on it and then numbered it 1, then continued doing the same thing with other stones going along the back row to the front sequentially.
When I’d finished I had another good look and realised that where on of the stones would be placed was raised slightly making this the highest stone. I then changed the notes around prior to writing on the stones themselves with marker when I was satisfied it was right.
I took a picture prior to removing the stones so I had a reference point for how they were arranged – which direction they faced, areas I needed to be careful of etc.
Then I moved the stones to the side and swept the area.
Laying the first one was a case of putting some down with a trowel and then wetting the back of the first stone before placing it. I used a spray bottle to reduce mess, but really doused the stone in water.
The second stone was a bit harder and, despite using a lot of cement, I couldn’t seem to get the two stones even. I’m a little frustrated by that, but the bigger stones are to the exterior so shouldn’t cause too much of a problem. I finished the row at the back and had to stop – I’d bought two 5kg bags of cement and they only covered two large stones per bag. I ordered 4 more bags for the next two rows through Amazon prime as we’re in lockdown and the larger Brico stores are outside our zone. I have to say though, the original bags were significantly less expensive at Bricocash.
When the original hearth was removed it resulted in a difference in floor level, so I ended up having to level this out with the cement prior to laying the next stone in some places….
and in other places I used the cement unevenly when I had stones that weren’t flat underneath and seemed to narrow to half the depth in some places…
As I worked I took extra cement and worked it into the sides and corners of the tiles, smoothing it out as best as possible….
So this section of the hearth is finished. I’m planning on creating a border with patterned tiles and wood next. The four more bags of cement I ordered via Amazon finished this section, so I’m awaiting some more to complete that task. Role on Friday!
I had been hesitant to remove the wooden staircase in the room that will be the kitchen. I really liked the pantina of the worn wood. However it was rickety, therefore tricky to walk down and was taking up valuable space. So, the decision was made and down it came.
I really liked the wood though, so I’ve been thinking about using it elsewhere. One place that I could see it working was the windowsill; it would give it a perfect, rustic finish.
The first thing I did was select a piece that seemed to be termite free (you always have to be cautious about that when repurposing wood) and whose length was sufficient for the width of the windowsill. I couldn’t find one that had the width and the depth. So I managed to find two pieces I could put together.
As you can see in the image below the cut of the step doesn’t insert itself in the casement, so the first thing was to cut it so I could do that.
To do this I made a pattern by inserting some brown paper in the window sill and marking out the angles.
When I’d cut it out I marked the way it needed to face, placed it one the wood and marked where I needed to cut with the circular saw.
It was a little short, but I’m not concerned. I wanted to T&G inside the window casement and knew this would fill the gap.
However the there was some large gaps between this edge and the back, hence my needing a second piece. So I marked the edge of the cut wood, cut that out and drew that on the second piece of wood.
These are both pieces of wood. They’re not going together well as there are some nails underneath so they don’t lie flat. Now it’s time to clean the wood and shelf, sort out the nails and fix it in place.
I marked out where the irregular shape of the back piece of wood, then smeared transparent, strong adhesive along the back of the wall and within the marked area. Then I did the same to the front area…
Here you can see the two pieces of wood cleaned and in situ. The shiny edge is the transparent glue. There was a slight difference in size, so after taking this photo I slipped a narrow piece of wood underneath of one end to raise it, then I weighted the ends to make it as close together with the back piece of wood as possible and allowed it to settle over night.
You can see in the picture above that there’s a gap between the window area and the double glazed window. My intention was to tongue and groove that area too, but this became imperative due to a mistake I’d made with the shelf. I cut out what I thought would end up being a curved end with would go beyond the edge of the frame. However, when I added the tongue and groove on the side the wood wasn’t wide enough. So when I set it within the casing there’s now a chunk missing. There’s also a chunk missing on the other side too, but that is as a result of the previous cut for the step. So now I knew that I not only needed to T&G the interior, but possibly add something like a quarter round to the base. Luckily the difference between the encasement and upvc window itself means that we’ll still be able to open the window easily even with all these extras. Phew!
In the meantime I concentrated on T&G in the interior of the window. I removed the old wallpaper first then I interlocked two pieces of the T&G, sufficient for the window depth, and put them to one side. As the area is cement and stone, not wood, I couldn’t nail straight into the wall and I didn’t want to use batons here due to not wanting to obstruct the light. So I decided to use builders glue straight onto the wall. I put horizontal strips of it at 10cm interval down the length of the wall and then it the interlocked T&G piece into the recess, pressing firmly against it. The lengths fell just short in length of the area I wanted to cover, so I made sure that they were held higher up by placing some lengths of wood below them.
I followed the same method on the other side of the widow and added a 1/4 round to fill the gap between the UPVC and the T&G.
Under the sill I added the same trim that I used to run along the top of the tongue and groove.
I’ll add a further post on the window shutters, but having prepared the sides for the hinges and adding a right angle shaped piece of wood to the corner of the window frame I added T&G to the top.
As the top of the frame gets progressively narrower, and knowing I needed two lengths of T&G like the sides, I took three measurements. * the length nearest the window (105cms) * the length of the top running from between the left hand joined T&G and right (111 cms) * the length on the outskirts of the top of the frame (118cms).
Then I measured and cut for the first length. I took a piece of tongue and groove and measured 111cms along and marked that on one edge of the board. Then at the top of the same piece of board I measured 105cms along, after a staggered start, and marked that. By a staggered start I mean I started 3 cms along from the edge (111 – 105 = 6, 6 divided by 2 = 3). I then drew a diagonal line from the longer edge to the shorter at each side and cut along.
After checking this would indeed fit the space I covered the back in glue, slid it in place and pressed it to the top of the window frame. I followed the same procedure with the next piece of wood with 118 and 111 respectively.
To fill any gaps I added another 1/4 round and glued it in position
To fill the gap between the sill and the sides I took another length of rustic wood and cut that to fit. You can see how I’ve slightly curved the end by sanding it, I’ve also sanded the entire piece to remove the rough edges. There’s a horizontal quarter round next to the window; I’d shaped the top and glued into place.
You can see my “shutter” in the image above.
After I’ve done the other side I did some work at the top of the window. Firstly I used a large 1/4 round to plug the gap between the PVC window and the window frame. With the tongue and groove and sides filled with smaller 1/4 rounds it emphasised the gap.
I had this pelmet top from a now defunct dresser and wanted to include it as part of the window. I added a large 1/4 round to rest it on and then glued the pelmet to the wall above the frame. After that it was a case of filling gaps with acrylic and where appropriate wood (behind the L shaped overhang).
I painted the T&G first, as this way I could go close to the edge and clear up any spills easily. Having painted it all I added a very narrow 1/2 round to fill the gap between the rustic wood side and the tongue and groove. Then I sanded the mane sill.
Next I used some tinted wood filler in the gap between the two pieces of wood and let it dry. When I varnished it with this medium pine varnish. I don’t think the gap is very noticeable at all.
I cleaned all the window itself with a upvc cleaner and then added this pale gold handle, and added these white handles to the shutters. I’ll do a post soon on dressing the window.
In the meantime I’m waiting for the cement to arrive for the hearth, covering the ceiling where the staircase was with white plaster of Paris, and filling the gap in the floor with cement. A lot to do – and every job seems to take an age! Then, after I’ve done these messy jobs, I’ll be repainting the T&G for a final coat.
I talked about why I decided on shutters for a window treatment here, along with my inspiration. I’ve been simultaneously working on the T&G, filling the gap in the ceiling caused by the staircase removal, the fireplace , the rustic windowsill and putting up these shutters. None of it is completely finished, but I wanted to post an update on the shutters. The photos aren’t great because the window itself has sunlight streaming through it throughout the day, but this is how it’s taking shape…
I’m going to be adding some off white pumpkin handles to the shutters, but I’m loving the rich wood against the white tongue and groove.
In the image below the rustic windowsill is starting to come together, as is the additional surround on the window itself. You can glimpse the pale gold handle that I swapped the original white one for – I have to remove the exterior one.
Just as an aside in this full picture below you can also see the sectioned off area on the ceiling where the staircase hole was. I’ve been taking various, salvaged wood mouldings to form this gingerbread style section. I think it will compliment the bookcases and the hook is where the lantern pendant will hang. For a while I’ve been worried that this section wouldn’t be successful, but it’s finally coming together. The paint is managing to disguise a lot of the imperfections.
I had filled the hole in the ceiling with T&G, but the fact the building is on a curve and the awkward nature of the hole itself meant I couldn’t line up the planks straight. I finally came up with the solution of plastering over the wood as you would wattle and daub and this is my first coat of plaster that’s gone up.
I now need to finish this part with some plaster of Paris and extend the plaster work round to above the window, smoothing the area out.
It took a while to get these shutters in position, including some time treating termites, but I’m really pleased with the result. The rustic window ledge will compliment them perfectly.
As you can see I had to pad out the corner of the window frame with wood to make it run in line with the T&G wall so that I could have an L shaped piece of wood fitted to the corner.
To remind you, here was the cupboard turned shutter…
Originally I’d intended for the shutter to hang just above the window sill as I’d thought I’d have a curved overhang. So I’d cut the L shaped wood to fit the length of the frame and then marked it with this S to show where the shutter would start.
I had to remove the original hardware. It was half nailed in and it was necessary to chip away at the wood to get the hinge out unfortunately. Although the door originally had two hinges I wanted to have three to ensure it was sufficiently supported.
If you look below you’ll see there is an error; I should have started with the female side of the hinge, the opening pointing towards the ground.
I actually laid one door lengthwise on the ground then put the L shaped wood over it so that one side went over the front of the door and the other covered the side. This meant that the opposite cupboard door acted as if it was the corner of the window frame that the L shaped wood would eventually go against.
Then I inserted the male part of the hinge into the female and lined up the end of the shutter with the S mark. The male side’s screw hole section was laid flat against the L shaped wood behind and I drilled holes in as needed. In this way I could ensure that the two sides of the hinges would correspond with each other in the right position on the wall.
You can see that after I’ve drilled a set of four holes I add the screws in temporarily to hold the position, then I go to the other end to make sure it’s straight before drilling. I finally drilled the middle section.
Here is the L shaped wood glued and then nailed onto the corner, the drilled holes facing into the room. I left that for a day to make sure the glue was properly cured.
The day after I drilled into the holes again and this way the wood behind had the holes going right through. I then screwed the hinges in place with 4cm screws and hung the door/shutter to ensure that it work.
This is when things got a little difficult. If you look in the image above you’ll see the wood feature for the cornered off area that was the staircase opening. This was a new addition, added after I had originally measured the shutter in terms of fitting the window. When I originally hung the shutter I realised that I couldn’t push it back against the wall as this was in the way. I won’t lie, I panicked a little bit. What I ended up doing was moving each of the feminine hinges on the door shutter down two holes, then drilling two more to full fit the hinge. This meant that the entire shutter was about an inch lower and therefore missed the area in question.
I rehung the shutter. Phew! It worked!
But it wasn’t the end of it. When I hung the other shutter it had to be above the protruding heater, obviously, but this meant the shutters where now hung at different heights. I could have given up here, but a good nights sleep helped me see a solution. The wood feature is a furniture leg that I had wanted to add a ceramic finial to, but it was too long. The leg came from the salvaged armoire bases used on the bookcases; the two armoires had different size legs, so I replaced the ones I had with two smaller ones and prayed this worked. It’s seems to be, so that’s good news.
Just one more thing, here’s the chimney breast that I posted about here…
I’ve plastered over the lower stonework as it was a little rough and I’ve started painting it. My husband popped his head round the door and commented on how bright the room was starting to look.
I’m going to add a post on the hearth later, but I’ve started to lay out the stonework and I’m going to add the Laura Ashley tiles that I already have for a border. It’s coming together.
Experienced DIYers, let alone professionals, would probably wince throughout this post. So, be warned! (Queue eerie music).
The main reason why I’m sharing this, in spite of my embarrassment at my substandard efforts, is that I’ve been dealing with ancient walls. The plaster was missing in some areas and, even when there was plaster there, it was completely uneven.
This is my very haphazard approach to solving these problems. I don’t know whether it will be any help at all; but if you’re dealing with these issues please read on (obviously I’m not an expert, take this advice at your own risk).
I’d started to put batons of wood across the area where I’d remove the staircase and plain stone had been exposed. My father had spoken to me about the need to ensure that there was no give between the slats as it is going to be a seating area. As, inevitably, chairs would quickly be moved back and banged against the walls and could result in unsupported areas creating a hollow for the boards to bend into and break. So I intended to add as many horizontal lengths of strips as I could to overcome this problem.
Deciding the height
I didn’t want to cut any of the lengths of T&G if I could, so I took into account the protruding step of the cupboard on the left hand of the chimney breast when I planned how to use the wood. I placed a tongue and groove length on the step and drew a horizontal line where the top baton would be glue against the wall based on this height. When I continued the work after the step I used a thick piece of wood, the width of the step, to rest the tongue and groove on. Then on the other side I knew to rest the T&G boards in the same way to know where the top horizontal baton needed to be.
The right hand side with brick exposed
Due to a good deal of the wall having exposed brick there was a big difference between the cemented half and the brick levels. I worked out that I could add some horizontal lengths so they rested on the already existed ones glued to the cement once the glue had dried. This staggered approach worked to an extent, but I needed to fill behind the length with plaster/acrylic when it was firmly glued in place.
I knew I’d have to think about a solution for the gaps further up the walls, as the staircase meant a diagonal line of more and more exposed brick. I thought I’d start on the other side of the fireplace whilst I thought this through.
The left hand ‘easy’ side
At first glance the left hand side of the chimney breast went like a dream. I glued on three batons; at the top, in the middle and at the bottom. After all there would be no banging furniture this side, so no extra strips were needed (you can guess what’s coming can’t you).
With the horizontal pieces glued in place and set I started to apply the tongue and groove in vertical lengths. The first one I glued on and then banged in some nails for good measure. But then I decided to avoid the messy glue and just nailed the next piece in place.
Each time I added a piece I slipped it in place and then rested the spirit level on its edge to make sure it was straight. Then I would nail in the middle section, the top and then the bottom. As I said earlier I had started in the corner next to the cupboard which has a step protruding from it as it’s going to house the fridge. As I reached the little knob I’d put on this step it was clear that the thickness of the baton and the T&G all but made the detail disappear. However I just cut a hole and used acrylic filler to disguise the difference.
Without the step in my way I used the thick piece of wood to rest the T&G plank whilst I slipped into its predecessor and made sure it was level with the top of the other planks. I again made sure it was vertical before nailing it in place. I cut a hole for the plug socket. I’ll go into more detail with that in a later post – primarily because I can’t finish the plug socket areas until I’ve added the skirting boards. I can’t add the skirting board until I’ve done the floor, so….it’s all a little way off.
As I got to the side of the stone chimney breast it’s unevenness made it difficult to fit the plank in tight. So I cut it vertically down so that it was sufficiently tight, then I used acrylic to make the difference between it and the wall. It doesn’t look great with the close up photo, but I really like the way it forms to the wall in real life.
On the other side where the tongue and groove didn’t quite fit the cupboard I added a quarter round, gluing it in place. I was really excited about how easy it was and painted it in chalk paint straight away. Two coats and I was happy, thinking I’d seal it with a coat of water proof varnish later. However the picture below is after a week or so later and you can see cracks appear in the paint as the boards have moved and settled in place. So I’ll be bearing that in mind as I continue the finish.
Noticing the 1st problem
As I returned to the other half of the chimney breast I noticed the back of one of the labels of the tongue and groove board packets. On it it showed the method of application; horizontal strips with 40 cms between. So what I was doing for the second half was on track, but the side I’d just completed didn’t have so many batons!!!
I banged it and there was a hollow sound and I could feel it give slightly. I don’t think it’s a complete disaster as this will only have a fridge near it, there’s no reason for anyone to lean against it or things like that. But I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
Back to the right hand side
Returning to the right side I plastered above the top, horizontal baton, trying to smooth the gap between the current plaster and bare stone.
As I said previously on the lower half of the wall, where the exposed stone was about half way, I had glued lengths of wood so there was a staggered overlap. This positioned them, but the half of the batons over the exposed stone didn’t touch anything. When the glue had dried on the other half of the batons I had applied thick acrylic behind each baton and let that dry thoroughly over the weekend.
How was I going to add batons further up? I tried everything. Drilling into cement seams to hold them in place, but this resulted in uneven and twisted batons against the stones. I added narrower batons to the ones I was using to make them sufficiently thick and then tried to glue them to the wall; but it’s uneven texture meant that this didn’t work either. In the end I marked on the wall where the baton needed to go, then kept adding plaster to the wall in strips so that it was level along the length with the cemented portion. Then when the plaster was dry I glued batons in place.
I didn’t touch it for the weekend as I wanted to make sure everything was set. Then I applied tongue and groove in exactly the same manner as before – and it worked!!!
The only problem was that the upper baton came off, probably due to the unevenness of that particular plaster strip, but I managed to apply another baton, albeit a little above where I wanted it to be. More on that later.
The adjacent wall
Now things are going to get even trickier! You can see below where I’ve finished the first set of T&G and the batons poking out from the T&G in the corner. They cover about 2/3s of the wall, so that should protect the planks from jolting and banging. I started to work on the adjacent wall, putting the top baton so that it was in line with its counterpart.
In all honesty I only use the spirit level on the top one as it’s not as necessary for the rest, they’re just there to add strength.
You’ll see I have one vertical baton against the edge of the inset window. This is glued onto the wooden side – more on this later. You can see though that I’ve put numerous lengths all the way down. However under the window sill you can see a big hole in the wall. I’m only intending to pad this out with insulation wadding – it’s one of the reasons I chose to T&G this corner. However there is a massive difference between the wall where the stair was and under the window sill.
I used a similar solution to the adjacent wall. Narrower batons were used under the windowsill where the wall was solid. Then, to create a bridge over the gap I added horizontal lengths to ones I’d already glued in place. You can see that it results in the second half standing proud of the wall.
Tongue and Groove on the Adjacent Wall
I then started to tongue and groove the corner area whilst the glue dried on the new batons. If you see below I cut a narrow length of T&G and put it in the corner, but it didn’t quite fit. I added to that later.
I stopped here to add a shelf, made from wood salvaged from the removed staircase, and encase the window area. But I’ll do another post on that.
When I continued I’d added one more length before the window and then I started T&G the most difficult area – under the window with the loose batons.
Under the Window
I cut the first length to go under the rustic window sill, cutting off the overhang that’s there to slot a top and bottom piece together to make it a snugger fit. The final length before the window had fractionally covered the loose area and I’d successfully installed that. This next piece was trickier.
I nailed into the upper two batons, but when it came to the lower part there was no resistance in order to nail into it of course. The length of the T&G started to split towards the bottom as I tried to do it anyway! My solution was to add some builders glue to the back of the T&G, making sure I got none in the crease where the next piece needed to slide into, and use two clamps to hold it against the baton and to stop it splitting further. I had to practise patience and leave it there overnight to dry.
Finishing under the window
Having secured boards to the area that covered the hollowed, insulation packed area successfully I needed to continue the T&G along the row. As the lowest baton didn’t run in line against the wall, due to the uneven nature of the wall itself, I started by putting strong glue behind this bottom baton. Then I positioned a new piece of T&G and nailed it down its length on the secured batons. I continued all along until I nearly reached the radiator. Then I pushed something heavy against the lower section, to force the bottom half as close to the wall as possible, and allowed the glue to connect the remaining baton to the wall.
The next day I nailed the ends of these T&G pieces to the secured baton.
You can see in the image below that I’d taken a final length of T&G and cut a section out of it to end this section.
Preparing for L shaped wood
I intend to use a shutter window treatment and know that I need to have substantial L shaped wood corners, but they can’t be fitted straight away as I’m going to use them to mark out where my hinges will be screwed.
As there will be a heavy weight on these pieces of wood I need to make sure I have substantial support behind the area they’ll go around. So I glued and nailed extra pieces of wood into the gaps. It ended up looking like this…
…but if I hadn’t been going to use something this heavy I’d have just gone ahead with the L shaped corners.
I’ll be adding another post on the shutters and attaching the L shaped wood later.
I had bought a trim of 4 cms width as I wanted to give myself a bit of leeway with the uneven T&G of the right wall. I basically cut to size, glued the area, then put it in place holding it until it was fully secure with clamps.
You’ll see that I added another length of wood to the left side so that the trim had something to be secured too.
You’ll also see that I cut out a little section of the wood to fit around that uneven end. I’m intending to fill it with acrylic later.
Here’s the right hand chimney breast with the trim and also the 1/4 round I applied to smooth the transition between the two walls.
It’s clear I’ve just used strong glue to add that. Super simple!
Here’s the next side with its trim, also waiting for acrylic.
There’s still the ceiling to finish off, smoothing put gaps with acrylic and painting, but I just want to focus this post on applying the T&G to these uneven walls. Those further updates and one with the painted T&G will be posted soon.
The kitchen layout has evolved since we first talked about what we wanted. We were originally going to have a range cooker in the chimney breast and had a gas pipe, which was to be connected to a gas bottle in the garage (no mains line gas), installed along with an electrical outlet with enough power for a cooker.
Then I had a horrible realisation. The sink was on the other side of the room, so if we were to cook pasta, for example, we’d have to walk across a wide kitchen to drain it of boiling water. That was never going to be practical with two young girls in the house.
We considered adding a second prep sink next to the range with a worktop. However that would mean introducing a water outlet which would have a knock on effect of moving the electrical outlet, already situated in the base board, due to the danger of a potential leaky/burst pipe near the electrical point. Added to that the outlet for the wifi is situated in the same place. As our internet has been tricky due to the house’s thick walls we had previously queried moving this; it would be expensive and messy.
Then one evening we were at a friends house and they were cooking on their open fire as we sat in the kitchen. My husband looked at me forlornly; “we definitely can’t use our fire can we?” You see the fireplace in our sitting room was added by the previous owner, and it includes a much, too small flue. As a result we were warned it would be dangerous when we subsequently had it cleaned. All the other chimney breasts in the house are blocked up and this was the only open, functioning one. We had asked the previous owner if it worked and we had been told it did. So the only functioning fireplace we were going to use to house a stove…..
which would prove tricky as the stone mantle was very low and we would have to build at the back of it to bring it sufficiently forward to reach the back hobs successfully……
and now we’d have to do lots of additional work to make it work too.
I realised that if I moved the oven to the back wall we would lose some of the electrical work we’d had done, but wouldn’t have to pay out for additional work and we could put a breakfast nook in the corner of the room, next to the working open fire. My husband was reluctantly persuaded, tempted by the thought of a roaring fire to stop his anguish of wasted work and money.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not keen on the fireplace. More to the point I’m not keen on the ugly, lower half of the fireplace. So I intended to do something with it. I thought to keep the stone on top, but add a shelf for display on the ugly lower half. Then I’d paint it white to give it a cleaner look.
I’d been thinking over how to bring this about, the main stumbling block would be the solid stone which would prove difficult to get a drill though, when I realised that there was a seam of cement that could be drilled into which would make my work easier. I had been poring over designs for how to put together a mantle piece when I saw this at my local brocante..
It’s really sturdy and I could never reproduce the lovely scalloped edges. I’d intended to get some form of wood carved appliqué, but any this size would be expensive. So in comparison to individually buying the wood, brackets and appliqué its purchase at 35€ was a no brainer.
To fix it to the wall I decided to use these z bars which are meant to be able to hold 20kg each – I got 4 just to be on the safe side. The benefits of these is that they interlock, so you screw in one side to the wall and then the other side into you shelf/cupboard/mirror top and then slide it into the bar on the wall. You can make sure the bar is horizontal with the supplied spirit level and there should be no mistakes. Mmmm, let’s see.
I realised my first problem was going to be the uneven nature of the wall. Although there was a horizontal seam of cement, the stone work jutted out haphazardly so that the lip that the second piece was meant to slip into was obscure. I had to find a way to make it stand proud of the wall.
My solution was a length of wood, narrow in depth, that would allow the bar to be sufficiently away from the wall.
I marked off the middle of the chimney breast with a marker pen. Then I cut the piece of wood to the length of the top of the shelf. I then marked the middle of the piece of wood too.
Laying the piece of wood on the worktop I placed the receiving bars along the length. Ensuring the bars were directly aligned with the wood edge I marked were the holes should be for the screws. Then I placed this length of wood so that it’s edge was aligned with the edge of the top of the shelf. You must remember that whatever side of the wood faces you is the side that has to go against the wall. I marked mine so I knew which side was which. Holding the wood in place I drilled into the wood were the marks were, so I drilled the additional wood and the shelf at the same time. This way I knew the holes would align, and therefore the z bars would. As the inserting z bar was going to be at the upper edge of the shelf I knew the shelf itself would sit fractionally above the cement seam.
Then it came the time to mark and drill holes in the cement.
As it was difficult to get the marker tip through the drilled holes I laid the wood against the seam, making sure it was level, then I marked where the holes would be with lines drawn away from the wood. Then I marked the wall along the length of the wood, focusing on the z bar areas, with the marker point as close as I could get to the wood edge. Then I got the z bars and put them along the drawn edge, aligning with where the screw were meant to be. I then scratched into the holes of the z bars with a screw, removing and marking the scratch with the marker pen each time so I didn’t lose sight of where each hole was meant to go. Now it was time to drill.
I obviously used a stone drill, but even so these are difficult to drill into hard cement. So, making sure the drill was set to hammer, I used the narrowest, stone drill bit I had to start out. It didn’t go in very deep, but I drilled all the holes along. Then I went up with the successive drill sizes until I’d made the holes sufficiently big enough to fit the raw plugs inside the holes.
Starting at the middle I attached the z bars to the wood with the screws then, following my earlier direction note, I screwed the screws in the wall just a little bit all the way along. Then I put extra strong builders glue all the way along the back of the wood. After that I screwed the nails in all the way.
I took the leftover piece of the length of wood and glued that in the middle of the mantle as between the z bars and the wood length there would be a slight tilt in the shelf otherwise.
I left the glue to set overnight.
The next day I checked that I could slide the shelf z bar into the one on the wall. When I was convinced all was well I slipped some raw plugs under the edge to make it stand proud of the breast, levelling it with the z bars. Then I took the builders glue and piped it under the edge of the shelf, smoothing the excess around the edge of the shelf like it was acrylic, sealing it all.
To disguise the difference between the mantle edge, the shelf and exposed stone I’m going to add some trim. I’m not painting it yet as I’ve more work to do; I’ll update you with that soon.