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 haven’t just recycled the chairs, I’ve used elements from a sofa bed in this and other projects; so this is one of a series. The sofa bed just didn’t fit the style of our house, but it has foam, wadding, webbing for seats, wood etc. There’s a lot to reuse.
In this case I ripped off the material that covered the padding on the frame of the sofa bed and found foam and wadding that was clean and ready to use.
Here are the chairs pre upcycle…
…..you can see the seat pad is quite thin and it’s quite low down. This is because the part that covers the chair dips down and the seat pad nestles in there. I wanted to smooth out that area so I could just cover the seat with material rather than reproduce something like this…
I removed all the nail heads first. As you prise them off they become too irregular to nail in again and I want to replace them with gimp braid trim anyway. Nevertheless I think they may be able to be salvaged for another project. Perhaps seperating out the reusable ones, and then removing the twisted nails from those that can’t be used. The latter can have their heads used by gluing them on, with the salvaged nails used spread throughout the project.
The material I’ve used to cover the interior of the chair was one I’d bought online at minimum expense from a discount supplier on eBay. The material was originally distributed by Next and is this lovely lavender velvet. It’s also very thick, so good for an upholstery project. As there are two chairs I knew there wouldn’t be sufficient to cover both entirely, but I’d already considered using a second complimentary fabric on the exterior. I was really pleased with the result when completed.
Throughout the project I reused the padding that was already there, as the chair had evidently been reupholstered in its life and these were in good condition.
I took the original apart and sewed the new interior sides and back together in a similar style. However I couldn’t get it as snug.
Oh, and I also built up the seat here.
I hand sewed the gimp braid, adding a stitch every cm or so. I think it gives a cleaner look than the alternatives.
The telephone table was actually lovely. I’d bought it online in the U.K. prior to our move to France from someone who did upcycling and sold pieces on eBay.
I especially loved the seat and plan to do something with the fabric.
So why did I decide to change it?
As it was half seat, half table it was difficult to place it in the house. When telephones were a new invention and you had one at a fixed point in the home this made sense. Answer a call, sit and have a chat. Need somewhere to store a phone book? There’s a little slot.
But….that’s not what we do now is it? Since the 80s we’ve had hands free phones, not to mention our lives tied to mobiles. We’ve seriously considered just keeping mobile phones. The only thing that stops us is an emergency scenario where a fixed phone could save lives.
You know where it is.
Since moving here the telephone table has been under the stairs. Too wide to fit in snugly under there to make use of its seat, it was wasted really, with its positioning against the wall running into the stair treads.
The creation of the vestibule area and the evolving sitting room encouraged me to look again at the piece.
I thought I’d share here because, even though this is the simplest of upcycles, it might give you ideas so you can save a similar piece in your home.
This isn’t a how to, just a you could. But here’s how it was….
And here’s how it is…
Everything is recycled. I removed the seat pad, shelf and back and then I took some old seat pads to make an upholstered bench.
The seat pads where from a set I’d bought for garden seats that I loved. They had a paisley pattern with a gold shimmer. However the pattern, including the shimmer, faded and it ended a dirty grey.
So I split three sides of the pads along the seams and used them for the padding on the bench. I then used a staple gun to secure it in place with the clean, but bleugh, material as a lining.
Then I used the left over velvet form these chairs as a cover, before trimming it with piping and ribbon.
This is a very proud mummy moment. My eldest daughter (9) has just finished her first upcycled piece 🎉🎈🧁🍰🥤🥂🍾 (the champagne is for me, obviously).
During this last week we’ve been preparing for la rentrée and I’ve also been spending some time focusing on the living room. My second Covid jab wiped me out, and I I just couldn’t face cementing the second half of the kitchen prior to laying it. As we have people coming over I decided to do a little more work in the sitting room; it wasn’t quite so taxing.
My daughter is always curious about my DIY and I’d said to her that, if she cleaned her room really well to prepare for going back to school, she could paint a buffet top I’ve been meaning to do. I had it because of the beautifully panelled doors which I want for another project, and I thought that as we need some bookcases I’d use it for this purpose.
Then in the afternoon I set her up for the buffet. It’s not a very solid piece, but does have some nice details. My thinking was even if it’s not eventually sturdy enough it will be a good for a first project for her and will make do for minimal money in the meantime.
She was so excited about it and got straight on with doing her room.
Her first task, if course, was to clean it all down. As it’s not the most refined piece of furniture I wasn’t going to go to town on it; it wouldn’t have been worth my while sanding all the wood back, for example. So I got her to just clean it thoroughly and talked to her about the stain marks to look out for when doing this on a piece of old furniture. It’s always good to be aware that we might be facing trouble ahead.
There seemed to be no stain transfer on to the kitchen towel during wiping down, so I got her to start straight away with a primer. Even though I use chalk paint most of the time I always use primer if I haven’t stripped the wood. I use one specifically for covering stained wood, as I’ve been caught out before.
You’ll notice on the finished piece that the interior is a darker grey; I bought Royal Grey from Action and used that on the interior with a coat of transparent, water based varnish. Then I mixed a small amount with Old White. It’s about a 2:1 ratio.
She painted it with just 1 coat of primer. Half way through she complained she was tired. I encouraged her to continue, saying she wouldn’t have the satisfaction of being able to say she did it by herself.
After some wailing and gnashing of teeth she finished and was happy with her efforts.
She finished her second coat in the chalk paint and I did the third for her whilst she was in school.
You’ll notice the top is new wood. As it was the top half of a buffet the top wasn’t made for putting anything heavy on, so I bought a new wood worktop and cut it to size. The stain is a bit orangey, I’m disappointed with that. I may apply another coat of stain on top.
I helped her sand it all back, then we added a coat of clear wax and copper to highlight the details before buffing them all. Both of these wax’s were by Libéron.
The buffet hasn’t been artfully arranged underneath – it’s definitely not Pinterest ready. It’s purpose is for after school each day. We don’t allow the kids to watch tv during the week and encourage them to read. I believe that if there are always books nearby they become a part of our lives. Some of my happiest moments when I was young was curling up and getting lost in a book!
When we first moved to France I bought this buffet in a brocante.
We had to furnish a rather large rental home and so I bought inexpensive furniture. As we moved it into the new house it didn’t take the strain and there was some breakage. The carved top was still in good order and that will go in another project. In the meantime I’ve used one of the shelves in the hallway…
and one in the toilet/utility….
So in terms of the top of the buffet I was left with this,…
I unscrewed the parts that held the lower shelf and I plan to use that in a project too. Then I seperated the top into two parts with a circular saw.
I’d never used one before and I was so nervous doing it. All seemed to be going well and the two areas were divided – great! Then I moved the parts from the workmate I’d been using and found that I’d sawn a load of the bench off too.
Anyway, the method differs to this doorway in that I just screwed the wood straight onto the walls using the same raw plugs and long screws as before. I then added some quarter rounds as before, but this time to the top and bottom of the boards to cover up the cut edges and give it some extra definition.
I also added some additional wood carvings to run beside the door frame.
This is a part one as I’m going to add a central wood carved moulding, but I went ahead with the project because when I finished the other door moulding and came through to the sitting room I found this waiting for me….
So I figured I’d get on and do this and then I have one of my jobs off my New Years list.
Bare in mind that they need caulking and the additional wood carving to be added (hence the waiting for the caulking), but in the meantime there’s this…..
My hubby was uncertain of my efforts when they weren’t painted, but after their coats of paint he was pleased. Especially when you consider that this cost about 10€, including the wood carvings and paint.
Do you recycle old furniture parts? I’ll be posting a lot more of this kind of stuff this year as I have many things I want to move from my ‘junk’ pile to make our home a little bit of heaven.
If you do have any recycled projects add a link in the comments below – I’d love to pop over and take a look!
As I said in this post I’m grateful for the chance to slow down on the decorating front and take it a little easier over Christmas. The trouble is when you’re minds been full of something for weeks on end then it’s difficult to switch off isn’t it?
This year, just like last, I had silly expectations of what it is I wanted to achieve by Christmas. As the saying goes, it means I might not reach the moon, but I do reach the stars. Lovely. Yet you don’t get to enjoy the celestial view when you’re exhausted!
With that in mind I have targets I want to achieve by this time next year – but whether I achieve them or not, by Autumn I’m going to take my foot of the gas decorating wise and approach Christmas time differently. Sidenote; hit subscribe because knowing me this paragraph will not age well 😂.
With all this in mind I’ve decided to set myself twelve decorating goals. Some of them are relatively small and some are big and will take a lot of time. Many of the small ones will run consecutively with these larger projects, so they can be finished by November when I hang up my tool bag.
With this in mind I’m doing these twelve days of Christmas posts to inspire me, and hopefully you, for the work ahead.
This first post on bookcases and reading areas encompasses two goals; the bookcase that I want to build in the living room that I spoke about in this post on my American style French Country updates. The latter half of the post will focus on future projects, namely the long hallway on the first floor landing and the reading area I would like to create in the attic.
The last may not be done for a couple of years yet, but it’s good to mull things over.
So, firstly to the living room and the bookcase I want to build this year.
4 How to’s
I love the price and style of these; especially the last one as it shows you how to add library lights and incorporate your speaker system.
Well those were examples of how I planned to do the bookcase, but I thought I’d share some inspiring bookcases for corridors as we have one going from the ‘family’ side of the house towards our guest rooms on the other side.
Landings and Attics
This project is waaaay in the future, but we have an attic with an incredibly high ceiling and lots of space. It has a tall central window and the layout would mean that there would be a large landing area. So I’ve often thought that we could do it up to have additional guest rooms in the future and the landing would lend itself to a great reading area.
As the roof is so high the small room that’s already up there has a false ceiling. It makes sense to continue doing this when we create the additional bedrooms to make them easier to heat. So I was thinking that a split level area on one side of the space might be cool; the other side would be used for additional storage.
I’ve been gradually working through the soft furnishing in our living room, you can see my post on the structured chair cover here. Both these chairs are done without a pattern so there is no need to take off the original cover from the frame.
You will notice that I don’t use a zip close as I did on the chair, but used a button detail. You can see more ideas for different closing details on this inspirational post. As usual there are lost of pictures as I want to make this as clear as possible.
Throughout the project I keep the fabric in one mass, then cut off the pieces that were needed as I went.
As per my last post I am not a professional; this is purely amateur hour, but it may just help you.
I would advise you to read all the way through to get a sense of the instructions before attempting this project.
Step 1 – Wash the fabric
Wash the fabric prior to using it as you don’t want the fabric to shrink after the first wash and spoil all you hard work. For more general tips on upholstery, such as use of thread and where to buy bargain fabric you can go to this post here.
Step 2 – Exterior side arm
You’ll notice in the images below that the material in image 1 goes some way beyond the sofa. I redid the pinning process after taking this photograph so I didn’t waste so much material. You can’t just take the fabric to the floor and work from there though as the arm itself has an incline on this sofa.
Just pin the fabric to the arm of the chair by pushing the pins deep into the upholstery. Make sure the pattern is horizontal. Throughout this how to you’ll see my reference to the pattern – as this is a striped one its pretty easy to align.
Then pin flanged piping following the same sign as the current piping; in this case that means along the top and down the front and the back sides – not the bottom. Follow the lines of the current piping exactly – in this case it meant a slight curve for the back piping to follow the shape of the sofa. Do not trim the excess fabric along the back of the panelas you’ll need it later.
Cut the fabric so it runs horizontally with the floor.
Sew the piping in place. I keep my zip foot on throughout the process as it is far easier to deal with thick fabric like this. Trim the fabric, leaving an excess of material of about an inch.
Step 3 – Back panel
Do the same with the back of the sofa, trying to match up the pattern as best as possible. So you can see on my images below where I tried to match the neutral colour with neutral (images three and four). To do so it’s best to re-pin the exterior arm panel in place so it gives you an idea whilst you work of how this is all going to fit together.
You can see in image four that I’ve pinned more piping to the side of the back panel. This is because piping already exists here at the back, but by piping both the exterior side and the back I’ll have double piping in the corners as I’m going to use a decorative, button fastening here.
You can also see that, as I have followed the original piping line, there is a slight curve in the application of the piping just like the exterior arm. This is so it bends with the sofa shape when pulled tight. Do not trim the excess of fabric here on the sidesas you’ll need it later.
Ensure, too, that your piping runs in excess of the top of the sofa slightly as you will need this additional length later.
Do this for both sides of the back of the sofa.
Cut the material along the base running parallel with the floor as before, then sew the piping to the material. Re-pin the fabric to the back of the sofa to correctly asses the second, exterior arm pattern positioning – you’re not going to sew this back piece of fabric to anything yet apart from its own piping.
Stage 4 – Second, exterior arm
Follow the same instructions for the first arm for the second, ensuring the pattern continues correctly.
Stage 5 – Interior, chair arm
Follow the steps below. It’s important to ensure your pattern fabric is matched up well before cutting and also that you leave a good amount of fabric beyond where you’ll sew on all sides, but particularly at the side and base. This is going to be attached to the back piece of fabric and pushed into the sofa frame as far as possible to ensure a good fit, so be generous.
Pin the exterior, arm fabric back in place. Then lay the material, with the pattern in the right direction – with the exterior striped pattern aligned to the material that runs down the inside of the arm of the chair. In this case I had neutral stripes in between lavender, pale lavender and grey stripes, so I was certain these were in alignment.
Once you’ve pinned the interior arm fabric firmly in place push the fabric inside the gap between the arm and the base of the sofa as well as down its back. When you come to put your cover on the sofa in the end you’re going to do this, pushing the material within the frame to give the loose fabric a more structured look. This enables you to lift off the fabric and wash when desired.
Cut the material along the base and back in line with the curves of the sofa, leaving a generous allowance of fabric as in image four.
Re-pin the material in line with the exterior arm; undo the pin, fold the section of fabric under and re-pin in place – continue all the way along the top of the sofa arm. You can see this in the image below. When you remove this to sew you will need to re-pin the pins so that they’re positioned on the inside of this seam in order to do so, but doing it this way allows for certainty that it’s in the right position.
Sew the exterior and interior arms together along this seam.
Stage 6 – Second, interior chair arm
Repeat this process for the other arm.
Stage 7 – Front, arm panels
Below I’ve started doing the front of the arm on the right hand side – however this isn’t the right hand, arm piece of fabric! This is the opposite side that I’ve turned inside out to work on. I used an off-cut of material that was appropriate in terms of pattern alignment. If I mucked it up I wouldn’t be too cross, and it’s economical.
Take the fabric and pin it all over to ‘stick’ it to the front arm. Cut round the shape of this arm, leaving the one inch allowance.
Fold the edge of the material inward and pin it to fabric draping over the interior arm of the chair. This will give you the shape of the front of the arm – but it also allows you to create any pin tucks required to fit the interior arm fabric well, hence the inverted material.
You can see here, similar to the original structure, I’ve created a pin tuck on the top of the arm of the chair. The original sofa cover had two, but I found one was sufficient, probably as a result of the raised piping that was still underneath on the couch. Look at how the original sofa has been fitted and let that be your guide.
There needs to be piping between the front panel and the exterior and interior arms. So when you are satisfied with the way you’ve attached your front panel to the interior arm re-pin with the piping in between.
I only pinned the piping on the top and inside of the sofa arm at this stage. This is because I’d already added piping to the outside of the arm, and didn’t want to double up (you can just see the existing piping in the fourth picture).
I then lifted off the arm material and re-pinned with the arm material the right way round, bringing the end of the piping between the pieces of material and sewing it all in place. I used a length of piping that goes all around the top and interior of the arm, extending right down to the base.
Now pin the fabric for the front of the arm of the chair to the piping on the exterior, front piping. Sew in place. See the image below.
Do this with the other side too.
Stage 8 – Back panel
Take some of the fabric from the remaining bolt and lay it along the back of the sofa the right way round, and pin it so it corresponds with the pattern on the back of the sofa; again pushing the pins into the upholstery of the couch itself to position it in the first instance. Then go along a re-pin, folding the edge of the material over to create a hem, pinning the two pieces of fabric together.
Let the fabric run all along the back and the seat of the couch until the edge of the seat. Tuck it into the back panel where it joins the seat, then cut along the front of the sofa to have one entire length.
At the corners of the back panel of the sofa you should have the two piece of excess piping; tuck these in between the front and back pieces of fabric and sew in place (See picture two below).
You now should have excess material from the interiors arms and the interior back panel. Pin these together as below, creating a triangle of fabric . Pin all the way along the base of the interior arm, attaching it to the base of the seat material, stopping about an inch or two before the end . You’ll sew these together and then, when the couch is completed you can tuck them into the sides to give the loose covers its fit.
Stage 9 – Front, base panel
You’ll need a shorter depth of material that’s going to cover the front of the base of the couch; judge it so that it overlaps the seat by an inch or two and runs to the floor again.
Turn the entire couch cover inside out and position it back on the sofa. Pin the length of fabric along the front of the base of the couch as you did before by pinning into the couch upholstery. Then, when it is secure and you are certain that the pattern is positioned correctly, pin along the top of the fabric so that the seat material and the front, base material are attached. When the fabric meets the arm pin all three pieces together as in image two. Sew this in place.
Then pin the sides of the front panel to the flanged piping that’s already attached to the interior side of the front panel. You can see in the second image the sewing that’s already been done when I attached the seat, interior arm and front base together tapering to a point – up in the top right, hand corner. Sew these in place.
Turn it the right way around and put it back on the couch, pushing the excess fabric down the sides and back so you know it can be fitted well.
If you want to you can stop here and just jump to the final segment about the button fastenings and attaching this temporarily to your sofa. If you want the scalloped edging follow the next steps (for those of you who want to do seat cushions you need to go to the structured chair post and follow the seat pad steps).
Step 10 – Scalloped edging
These are done in four sections; front, two sides and back panel. This accommodates the button fastening on the back of each side. First you need to judge the length of material required, accommodating the existing pattern. As you can see in the first image I’d cut a length of material that would go along the front of the couch; this piece extended past the couch front itself to accommodate the pattern repeat and also the points below. I pinned in place and then cut it so that it finished at the floor giving me a good depth to work with.
On your ironing board (hence the ducks) fold the length in half…
I made a mistake with this first length as I didn’t start working on the reverse of the pattern – so although these photos are sufficient to explain what I did, but you need to be aware of the need to do this if you don’t want to find yourself cursing as I did.
In the middle of a small, salad plate with a smooth edge run some masking tape across its diameter so it has one half completely exposed. Always use this exposed half (I actually drew an arrow on mine so I could be sure I was working with the correct half).
Line the masking tape up with the ironed crease and using a biro draw the edge of the circle onto the fabric. You need to wash the plate afterwards quickly after you’ve finished to make sure it doesn’t permanently stain the plate. Don’t use a sharpie, whatever you do.
You’ll see in image 4 that I drew the next semi circle with it’s side touching the previous one, with these touching parts going above the ironed crease.Cut round the circle shapes as in this photo, leaving about half an inch of fabric spare.
Cut little, horizontal snips along the curve making sure not to go all the way to the line, and then fold and pin in place. As you start the next circle it should look as it does in the sixth image. Continue all the way along the length of fabric.
Take your time and sew all of this in place.
Hem the sides of this edge of fabric before continuing.
Pin the scalloped edge fabric to the front base aligning the pattern, folding the top inside prior to pinning to create a hem. Lift the cover off, re-pin on the interior in the same positions and then sew in place. Do this for the sides and back. Note the next point for the sides though.
In this image below you can see that the excess length of fabric was not only positioned in line with the pattern, but the additional fabric was taken all the way over the front, arm panels and around the sides slightly. Then when I did the scalloped sides I had a bit of an overlap.
You can see in the image below that the inevitable excess of material due to pattern placement was just sewn in place, over the back piping almost to the end of the exterior, side arm. It didn’t matter that it doesn’t go to the end as this piece is just going to be hidden in folds of fabric when the couch cover is fitted. I did this to the back as well.
Step 11 – Back, button closing
The back of the sofa corners should have looked like this prior to the scalloped edge application..
Sew these excess pieces of fabric together so they form an inverted tent shape. You need them so that you can lift of the cover easily in order to clean in the future.
Work out how many buttons you want each side – as you can see I chose five as they are rather big buttons. Measure the length of the couch back from the top to the scalloped edge, then divide this area between the amount of buttons you want to place. So say, for example, the distance was 50cms (I know a couch won’t be that small, but bear with me) successive buttons would be 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 cms with the last button being just above the scalloped edge.
Start at the bottom, putting a pin into where the base button will be. Then going up in a vertical line continue placing pins where the buttons will go. It’s necessary to start at the base as the curved back means to ensure a horizontal line of buttons the gap between the base button will be shortest and therefore determines where they all need to be positioned as a result. Sew buttons in the positions.
I used braid as loop ties, so cut an approximate length including excess. Holding the braid looped around the button, pin it to the back panel (figures two and three). When all the loops are correctly positioned un-loop them carefully so as not to alter their position and then run another length of braid along the horizontal length to cover the ends of the loops. Sew along the length, securing and covering the loops.
I’ve started decorating the living room for Christmas, so this post is as much about that as the development of the French Country style. By the way, for images of the decor lit up at night follow me on insta.
I have a habit at Christmas time of removing a lot of my decor accessories to better display the Christmas decorations. Then, following twelfth night and when the latter are packed away, I take out my old friends again. It’s so good as it gives you an odd pick me up when you’re past the festive cheer. I’ll update you when the decor is in its purer form.
As you can see I’ve squared off the living room, as I talked about in this post. This means that rather than have one, long, oddly shaped living room we have a still large, square space. The couches face each other, both in faded lavender shades that match despite their differing patterns.
The couch that acts as a room divider is the smaller of the two and was the second one that I’d ever covered. I bought both fabrics at bargain prices at different times and was so pleased with the cost and their suitability. I share how to get bargain fabrics here.
The bigger sofa has a scalloped edge that I’ll be posting on soon.
This space is defined with a neutral rug and the re-purposed table sits perfectly in the middle. Even though I’ve maintained the table’s wood, it’s pantina compliments the painted, vintage pieces.
This includes the French Grey table that I shared here and I’ve repositioned below this wall of vintage, French photos and etchings. Here are some close ups of them.
Many of them are local landmarks such as the cathedral and church in nearby Coutances….
Saint Michael’s mount….
it’s equivalent in Cornwall….
and the ruins of the Abbey d’Hambye….
along with a Madonna and child….
In the re-purposed buffet I have throws ready for use, a basket to hide toys that the kids have dragged through from the play room and my beautiful Art Nouveau bust. It’s faded beauty suits its new home perfectly.
I teamed these bird prints with the oval mirror that I painted gold from a dark mahogany.
The final piece of furniture I upholstered this year was the loveseat in lavender linen. I added the trim that I later used on the Aubusson curtain to hide the tv. I really like it and I’m thinking of removing the structured skirt of the small couch to replace it with something similar.
You can see that I have lots of luxurious velvet cushions along with the simpler cotton, Christmas ones. I really like the combination as it seems to reflect my liberal use of glass with the more vintage elements.
Lastly I painted the fireplace in this soft grey. It makes a huge difference to the room – so much lighter and brighter. We knew we couldn’t put a fire in there after the advisor came around, so we will probably keep the fireplace there with the Art Nouveau wood burner there just as it is. The fairy lights give a fire effect with none of the hassle anyway.
One of the reasons for this decision is it’s going to be expensive and messy to remove the fireplace. I think it’s got metal within its structure, as well as concrete and piping. If we remove it I don’t know if it would even be successful. So I think a project for next year will be to straighten the flu area with plaster board and add moldings to compliment the rest of the French Country look.
I already have some beautiful Art Nouveau sconces in the form of Mucha style busts that I plan to put on either side of it, and I also have large damask tiles from Laura Ashley. I think I’ll put the tiles on the back walls and pair them with a simpler grey tile on the floor. Then I’m going to soften the solid block of the mantle by extending it with a shelf and cornice.
OK, I’ll stop brainstorming now and get in with showing you some close ups of the Christmas mantle decor.
I’ve already posted on how I’ve hidden the TV.
Behind the small couch I’ve put the marble and iron pastry table, typically found in bistros in the past. The grey marble suits the room to a t, and the weight keeps the couch in place even when the kids bounce on the couch when they sit down.
I bought the lamps to go on the repurposed buffet top, but they are so tall they touched the chandelier wall light that’s there. So I ran an extension lead from the tv side, covering it to protect people from catching their foot on the wire.
As it runs from the tv side it’s not a normal passage. At the moment it has Christmas decor on the mirrored tray, but I’m going to try and use items that have a dual aspect so that you’re not looking at the back of everything.
In this second half of the room you can see the goblet top curtains that I made during the year. I’ve added beads, buttons a velvet ribbon to them – what can I say? I’m a girl who loves trim!
I’ve already shared about the wicker sofa and cupboard. I just wanted to show you the table that I painted again when I decided to really define the room’s style. I love round tables that you can fill with photos like this. Here it is in its black and gold form with the compass motif. It looked good but I couldn’t put as many photos on without hiding it.
And on a sunnier day today…
I’ll be moving the wicker sofa to where the rose chair is eventually. The rose chair and ottoman will go elsewhere in the house and I plan on covering a small sofa we have in white and putting it against this wall.
I also plan to take up about two thirds of the wall in bookcases. This will give this side of the room a more clearer purpose of reading area. With all the sunlight streaming in it’s perfect for that.
Following on from the difficulties we face getting a wood burner in here a longer term plan is to move the dining room, which is currently through the bi fold doors, to one next to where the kitchen will be. In its current room there is a chimney and hearth. If we’re able to open it up and get it working we’re going to put a fireplace in there and use it as a music room.
If that all goes ahead I’ll move the ottoman in there and have more formal, French style swatting in there.
One last plan for the room is the bi fold doors. I want to put some form of cornice above them and the entrance door too. In the meantime I’m content with the vintage door handles.
No more work in this room until the new year. Between now and the 24th it’s just Christmas stuff. How’s it going where you are?
I’ve written about the decor review I’ve made of the living room and how I was planning for it to reflect more of an American, French Country style. In the corner of the room was a cupboard and its obviously a modern style.
So I decided to change it to something more along the lines of how I wanted it to look. I used the same technique that I used for the hallway; wood appliqués. I’ve also used window film and faux lead light (click the links to see the other projects that use these items too).
Adding the appliqués
I used 3 rose lengths and 4 rose corner appliqués, along with some half rounds.
The first thing I did was put one appliqué aside and painted it in the same French grey that I did the rose table in. This room seems to be developing a theme. I intended this appliqué for the top of the cupboard, so painting it like this was easier.
Next I placed the rose lengths. I used no more nails glue as I couldn’t get the door from its hinges and with that, when you put it on the horizontal surface, it stays put.
Measure the centre of the door and put one of your unpainted rose lengths on. Using a spirit level make sure it’s horizontal.
Then ascertain where the centre line is on the bottom of the door. Measure the same distance from the bottom as there is between the top and the appliqué. Put your second rose length there ensuring they’re a direct mirror image. I chose to put the second one upside down because of the central roses I intended to use later. Make sure this appliqué is also horizontal with the spirit level.
Ascertain how far you want the corner roses to be from the rose length and using your spirit level place them either side. Use your spirit level horizontally to make sure that they are directly vertical on the exterior edge.
Then cut your half round to fill the gaps between the corner and rose lengths. Glue them on too.
Score the door horizontally using the spirit level edge placed against the bottom rose length. Then do the same thing vertically using the exterior edge of the rose corner. You should now have scored intersections to place your last two rose corners.
Measure, cut and apply the final horizontal half rounds and then do the lengths.
Measure again to determine the central point then place the roses in a mirror image in the centre.
Allow this all to dry prior to using wood filler to smooth any gaps between the appliqués and the half rounds. Leave it to dry again before painting the cupboard.
When it’s finished being painted glue the final rose length to the center of the top of the cupboard prior to sanding and sealing it. I actually sealed this with clear, water based varnish for speed. I needed to put everything back before the kids got home.
Once this is finished it’s time to apply the window film. Here’s the instructions from Laura Ashley…
This was left over from another project and was a wee bit small. So I disguised this by cutting it to be a central panel and then adding faux lead light.
The room really is beginning to look more of the same style and the cupboard had been a jarring note in that. I’m so pleased with the results. I plan on revealing the whole room tomorrow so I hope you’ll subscribe and see how I’ve I’m decorating for Christmas in a French Country style.
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?
I saw this wicker sofa in the brocante and it’s been sat in my parent’s garage over the summer whilst I finished other projects. As my plans to give the living room an American French Country focus have developed I felt it was time to get it out of storage in time for the Christmas period.
I do this every year. Set myself an unrealistic amount of decorating projects coming up to the festive season, imaging a beautifully finished home to welcome guests in style. It is never finished to the extent I want and sometimes I’m left frazzled from the effort. However each year I’m closer to the home that I want, so there’s that 😆.
I wanted to make it lighter to fit the style of the room so I thought I’d chalk paint it. Normally I don’t give a how to for any chalk painted piece of furniture as there are so many excellent tutorials out there. However as this involved caning I thought I’d share this piece’s transformation with you.
Remove any trim and fabric
The first thing to do is move any trim and fabric. Mine had nail head trim which was rusty. I had to use pliers and a flat head screw driver to get them all out. Levering the nail head with the screwdriver first then prising it free with the pliers.
Mine was covered in nailhead rust and other dirt so a good clean down was needed. I always check my cloth now to see if there is any stain on it along with dirt. After painting my secrétaire and having lots of trouble with that I didn’t want to go through hours of painting to no avail.
It looked ok, but more on that later.
Paint the caning with chalk paint
I started with the caning as I’d heard I might not be able to paint it. However chalk paint did a good job. I used a round headed brush and applied it in a circular motion. It’s really important to only added a little paint to the tip of your brush as you’re painting a holey surface and too much paint will just make a mess.
Applied over a small section on one side then catch the drips on the other, again using a circular motion and effectively using the same paint to cover both sides. You have to really work the paint into the caning to cover it. You can see an image below of blobs if paint that had accumulated before I’d done the other side. Without catching it it would form drips.
Here it is after I’d painted the first panel of cane….
Paint with chalk paint
Next I painted the frame. I alternated between the caning and the frame like this, eventually adding three layers of chalk paint. I needed so many as it was a dark piece which was difficult to cover. However I always get inexpensive cans, so it didn’t break the bank.
As I continued it was evident that I did have some bleed from the old varnish; just in some places the paint was developing a very distinctive pink tinge. Also in spite of my nifty brush work the cane wasn’t completely covered. Onto the next step.
Spray any bits
I got some insulating, white primer and sprayed this over the patchy areas of cane and the pink tinged wood. It was just here and there – I wouldn’t recommend this for an all over job as it can have a bobbly texture due to its formulation. I can show you this in a bookcase post soon.
Double check the legs are well covered
Turn it over and paint any areas missed on the legs. At this stage it’s obvious how disintegrated the underside is (the pictures are below). More on that in a bit.
Lightly sand the chalk paint with fine sand paper, taking extra care on areas that had insulating primer and the caning.
This isn’t the most professional how to. As the sofa will be rarely used and the springs seemed secured I just removed the grotty covering fabric, secured the webbing then recovered in a heavy weight piece of upholstery fabric that I had.
It was a leftover from a previous upholstery job. The fabric had a fire proofed backing which had a plastic like feel. I’m hoping this does the job, but if not I’ll have to redo this part. At present though I’m on a deadline for Noël.
If it does need redoing I’ll put a note here and a link to how I handled it.
Add padding and base upholstery
I added extra padding to make it more comfortable. As I said in the post on making an extra large, coffee table ottoman, I often recycle washed, worn quilts to use in various soft furnishing projects. I just used some of it like batting prior to covering it with the same fabric as the underneath.
Adding the first layer of upholstery
I’d already used the original fabric as a template and cut another piece, leaving an extra inch around the outside whilst cutting.
I started stapling at the back, tucking the edge of the fabric under and stapling it in the middle of the setee first.
Immediately stapling the opposite edge, keeping it taught. Do that all around the outside.
Using a clean, round headed brush apply the sealing wax a little section at a time, then polishing with lint free cloths before moving onto another section. Do the caned area too.
After covering the cushions this is what the little setée looks like….
I haven’t included a how to for the cushions as the technique is pretty much the same for the fitted chair.
What do you think? You can see it’s next to the round table I re-painted. It suits the style of the room so much more now. I keep this largish, dining table in here as I love to display lots of family photos like this.
The room is really developing that American French Country style now don’t you think?