I went to the brocante over the weekend and bought this Henry II buffet. These normally go for anywhere between 30-100€. I bought this for 2€; I spotted it a while ago, but it was only 25€ then. It’s obviously something they just wanted rid of now.
Although I had to pay 30€ for delivery it worked out the same amount that I was about to spend on wood to finish off the ‘vestibule’ under the stairs. I could use wood from this to do that and I’d have something to use as a project that I wanted to finish before Christmas.
So, before I tell you what it’s going to be used for let me know…..how would you use it?
I thought I’d focus this post not so much on the how to, but the what to use in terms of recycled items. It’s not only good for the environment in terms of less landfill, but saves money, time in terms of shopping trips, packaging, and fuel going to get/having delivered the resources.
I’ve always loved this style of French cane chairs…
Gorgeous isn’t it? So when I saw this on le Bon Coin I knew I wanted it. For 35€ it was a good price too, particularly as the style above is sold in the region of $1,500…
The fabric is obviously 🤢, but the frame is solid with no woodworm and the springs are strong. I checked this when I went to buy it, but the other thing I noticed was that the seat cushion filling is a little strange. It’s sort of….crispy 🤨. Not dirty, but it has a crispy kind of sound when you press it. Weird.
So straight away I knew that this would need to be replaced. That’s ok though. As many of you who follow the blog know I like to salvage as much as I can, so I actually have some feather pads and foam from furniture that is no longer wanted for various reasons. When I first started doing up old furniture I was shocked at just how expensive these items can be, so now any furniture that may have been just taken to the tip gets a good going over to see what can be kept in the attic until I can use it.
You can see that my chair and the one I like are different in shape, which I’m ok with, but the back rest is very different. It doesn’t have wings, but I wandered if behind the padding was more cane. When I got it home I started to look under the fabric and found this…
A solid wood frame, and some strange wadding. It also reeks of cat, yuck.
So there’s no lovely rattan back to reveal, so that’s going to have to be reupholstered in a similar style, but I wanted a more modern wadding. Under the seat pad it looks like this….
The wood itself I really like and, although I had intended to give the chair the whitewashed effect of the target chair, I started to think I’d actually like to keep it as it is. The one thing that gave me pause was the idea that I already had this ottoman….
which I thought would go really well with the chair. However it’s legs were painted white, so I needed to check out if if they could be made like the chair, or if the chair would need to be made like the ottoman. Either away I wanted to bring the chair more in line with this structure on the left, so that I can put the two together like the one on the right…
I knew I’d need to have a second pad on the top of the ottoman that will match that on the chair. So let’s get to work.
After removing the fabric and wadding at the back of the chair I could see those strong springs and this interior section which is still in good shape.
Here’s the front – I’ve yet to hoover off the remainder of the wadding. As I focus on recycling it’s obvious that this is something that can be maintained.
I had to unscrew the side arms to remove the material tucked in. It was hard going as it’s a well made piece.
I disconnected the two springs holding the material that he’d the seat pad above in place and removed it, splitting the worn material open to reveal this deteriorated sponge. I shook that out and washed the remaining material; this and the internal panel was kept. It might not be pretty, but is still strong fabric. So it needed to be washed and have foam placed on top to replace the interior foam. The frame and back were hoovered really well as it was mainly in good condition.
I then used some salvaged foam from a sofa bed that we aren’t going to be using in this home. I cut a foam seat pad in half before cutting it into the shape of the backrest. The second half was going to be used on the seat.
I used fabric glue spray to attach the foam to the seat back, and added fresh wadding from an unused throw cushion that I stapled into place with its interior lining.
The remainder of that sofa bed is going to be used on other projects, so I’ll keep you updated.
The rest of the chair was covered with this knew, lavender velvet material. I also added a new seat pad from the additional back cushions of the sofa bed….
Then for the ottoman.
I made another pad from the sofa bed cushion and sewed one side of a zip along its length. Then I sanded the legs and stained them with this stain and wax, left it two hours then buffed it into a shine.
I took material sufficient to cover the original ottoman and placed it on top of it. Then I put the new pad on top and pushed into both ends of the other side of the zip, then further pinned it along its length. Undoing the zip entirely, I then sewed the second half to the still loose material.
Reattaching the two sides of the zip to make sure the pad was placed correctly I stapled the material on the four sides of the ottoman with one staple each side. After removing the zip again I then stapled the fabric to the ottoman and covered the base in the contrasting fabric.
I’d already added grey piping to the pads, but now I finished the project with some gold, nail-head trim.
It has a very different feel to the target chair, but it goes very well with the room. My daughters love it. Its positioning in t window gives it a perfect place to read and dream 🥰.
Work is still going on under the stairs and at the back of the hallway. As the back door is the only one in the house that’s not double glazed retaining heat is a big consideration. So I adapted this curtain to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
You’d be amazed at the cold chill you’re hit with when you draw the curtain back in the morning. Speaking of tiebacks, I got these from ebay.fr. They’re meant to go either side of the window, but with the door being right next to the wall one tie back wouldn’t work. So by doubling them up like this they work.
It had been too long, so I took the end off and sewed it as a trim on the top, adding this lovely lace.
That and the dog draught excluder make an enormous difference.
The painting is one I found at a brocante a long time ago. I think the slightly battered frame and her wistful expression suit the area.
The area needed light, as the one that had been there was tucked under the stairs behind the new cupboard.
I bought some beautiful, crystal chandelier wall lights from the same brocante, but there wasn’t a power outlet on the wall. This is my solution, so this is my solution. Now, I’m not an electrician, so please don’t take anything I’m about to say as professional advice.
I bought a lamp, electrical cord. It had an integrated light switch and a plug on one end. I attached this to the wall light and fixed the latter to the wall. Then I secured the cord to the wall and beams with cable clips. Finally I plugged it into an extension cable and clipped this to the beams length until it was plugged into a light socket.
I’m going to disguise the cord in another of my winter proofing techniques later.
I updated you on the changes to the layout of the kitchen last week, but as I was working on that I had started on this little side area.
On the adjacent wall area will be the range oven we would like. As a result this space is very narrow, only 40cms. Added to that the right hand, workable area underneath the counter is only 50cms. This is because the left hand side, just prior to the dividing panel, will buffer against the oven itself.
In the French countryside there aren’t gas lines, so we’ll have to rely on small, LPG gas bottles. When we were going to have the range oven underneath the chimney breast we had a pipe put under the floor that connected to the garage, which would store the bottle.
Visiting a friend we found they had theirs in a cupboard next to their oven. So this gap seems a great place to store ours and means we don’t have more, expensive work done.
The dividing section is hinged, and you can open it so you can easily slide out and replace the bottle.
The pole is from the stairs I took down in the corner of the kitchen, and it’s framed by the same wood appliqués that I used on the bookcase glow up.
As with the other areas I’ve created this wooden splash back. It’s going to be finished in maritime varnish just like the others to ensure its longevity.
I’ve checked the height and this is a workable space for out peddle bin and maybe the compost bin too.
We’re going to have additional plug sockets put on the back wall, so we can use it for the blender, slow cooker etc. The main point of the area is to give you elbow room when you’re cooking , but also have somewhere that you can place things should you need to.
The skirting board are done and I think it’s looking far more polished.
I’ve just finished varnishing the interior of the base cupboard that will be on the back wall, and I’m starting to paint it. When I have that in place I’ll have the height that I need for the butlers sink.
As the kitchen comes together ideas that I previously had thought would be wonderful I later found won’t quite work. I’m not a kitchen planner, which means that I don’t know the main issues such as needing to have the oven near a sink. Additionally I’m working with items that I gradually ‘find’ in brocantes, which inevitably means I must be adaptable.
This change isn’t as a result of that though. This change is because I didn’t plan the space needed for the dining area properly. Although I’d measured the space, when I moved furniture into the kitchen it was obvious I couldn’t fit in a larger table and, seemingly, had to settle for a small, round one.
So we would have a small breakfast nook?
We had wanted a convivial atmosphere and the current layout would mean guests and family split up in various groupings, if we kept the current configuration and wanted to eat in the kitchen.
Alternatively if guests came we’d have to move to the formal dining room. That’s fine for me, but my husband – who is the main cook – would be left on his own a good deal of the time when we had people over. This is particularly important for us as we are expats, so this doesn’t just mean for the occasional dinner, but throughout the time guests stay.
At first I was resigned to this, and I continued to make plans for the breakfast nook. I had wanted to put a small buffet to keep crockery in at the side. Unfortunately the irregular shape of the room meant this wasn’t possible either with the table.
Then I realised that the central island could be used as what it is – a buffet – with a dresser on top for extra storage. There could be a central, large table, which could still have electrical outlets in it. It would additionally mean that I could use the wall space for other purposes. A win all round.
Here is the table I managed to get from Le bon coin….
For the buffet/island/buffet I’ve removed the worktop from the kitchen island and I’ll use that on the opposite side where the sink area is. I’ve added a buffet worktop that I had from the cupboard that was too big to use initially in this room when the staircase remained in this corner. It needed to be cut down to size, but I think it looks good.
On the wall I hung this dresser worktop instead of resting it on the base. I want to be able to use this area for the microwave; as there is a plug socket along the back it’s ideal. The space between the buffet and base of the dresser top was too narrow for this with the original rests. So I sawed them off and I’d ordered wood brackets like those used for the bookcase turned wall cupboard, intending to give it a more country feel.
In the meantime though I found this shelving unit in the brocante for 9€. This has been put up and the hooks moved from above the kitchen sink to here, as this will be the coffee/tea area. As a res I didn’t use the brackets.
I’ve put a wood back to disguise the gap between the wall and the buffet base. I just cut it to size and curved, then sanded the edges before staining and sanding it.
Lots more to do if we want to be in by Christmas. I’m working on the corner that will run alongside the oven. It’s nearly finished so I’ll post on that soon.
We’re so happy the floor is finally laid, but I thought that as there are so many tutorials on YouTube I would do a post on the difficulties and pitfalls you might experience. Why? Because throughout the laying process I kept grumbling “they didn’t tell you about this in those videos”.
One of the main reasons for my griping was that they all miss out it hurts. Some mention that your knees will hurt, that’s true, but I don’t just mean your knees. I mean everywhere. Your back, your legs, your bum. The lot. I started laying the floor on the Friday and winced any time I sat down all of the weekend. To put this further into perspective, I’d only finished 1/4 of the floor by then.
In all the videos they had a bare room, but we just weren’t able to do that. The kitchen island couldn’t be moved safely into another room and the damp autumnal weather meant I couldn’t store them outside whilst I worked.
As a result the fact that our heavy kitchen island was in the room dominated the whole project.
Added to that was the uneven walls of the room. There’s not a single straight line, because our house is built following the curve of a route. So the interior walls are all angled, or they have doors or built in cupboards. This all impacted on how we could proceed.
I had thought originally that I would lay the floor across the middle of the room from door to door. However the walls meant a safer course of action was to start running the lengths across the room in the other direction, however this meant the monstrosity of the kitchen island.
One more difficulty to overcome was that I’d moved all the laminate into the kitchen area to become acclimatised. It had been in the room adjacent, but needed to go in there and have all the boxes opened to let the air circulate. So, one more obstacle. Or, more precisely, lots more obstacles.
Because we didn’t have a straight run my dad, who was helping me, and I decided to go against all the recommendations and started to lay them in a staggered pattern. You can see how I left them on the first day…
We’d managed to fit one length under the island to the edge of the tiles I’d laid but the legs of the island meant we couldn’t fit any adjacent to that and moving the island at that point wasn’t an option due to the opened packets of laminate.
So we continued into the corner as much as possible, then as we laid more I had some space to move the laminates onto, creating more space.
At the end of the first day, apart from aching, I was worried we’d created a mess that we couldn’t rectify. If we kept laying boards the necessity to stagger them would mean a need to somehow slip boards in between what amounted to fork like prongs. Tricky.
Then I went in the next day and realised that I’d created sufficient space to start to swing one foot of the island onto the already laid floor and this created space to start lay boards in the space. It was a game changer.
After the weekend I started again; focusing on the corner that will house the dishwasher and sink. I’d tiled this area, thinking there might be future water leakages, and it therefore created an awkward area to work.
With the island moved I could fit in there to do the work and just concentrated on cutting to size here and then along the irregular wall and into the doorway.
Here we are at the end of the second day….
For the next two days I worked hard in there and eventually managed to finish most of the room. I was then left with those built in cupboards and needed to use a jigsaw to cut out the curved shapes. I didn’t have one. All ours were broken, but I couldn’t continue using the multitool I had been as I needed something easier to handle.
In the end my husband ordered me a Bosch cordless jigsaw. I cannot emphasis what a difference this made. I managed to fir the laminates pretty close to the cupboards (although they couldn’t be too close as there needs to be some give).
The room now looks like this….
I have to do the skirting boards and trim yet, but that’s a job for next week. So too are the two last boards at each doorway. I have temporary boards in there at the moment, but I need to remove the upvc door to do the one leading outside and the other will be replaced.
I’m intending to continue the laminate into the room next door which will eventually be the dining room, but there’s a wall to be removed first and that’s just too much before Christmas. So I’ll relay that final board, which needed to be cut in half to meet the existing floor, and continue straight from there.
I’ve been trying different furniture in there; the larger table I’d intended to have will never work, so I moved this round one in there. The chairs are going to be changed and I’ll update you on that soon.
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!
The door into the kitchen area is a horrid, hollow 1970s affair. I looked and looked for a salvaged door to put in its place, but the narrow opening made this feel like an impossible find. Then I found a solution on that haven of good ideas, Pinterest.
A little more about the doorway. Our home is a former doctor’s residence. I’ve come to discover that, as a result of the way the health system in France operates I assume, many former doctors homes have the same layout. I know of at least three other British residents who have bought these homes have a similar floor plan. A largish central house with a front door, then a connected area with its own front door. These serve as the office and waiting room of the doctor.
Consequently the doorway to the kitchen area had two days to ensure the privacy of patients. I’ve removed the internal door and I’m left with the exterior one, which runs smoothly along the wall that will be part of the dining area. I wanted to give the interior of the door character, whilst maintaining the flat, exterior side. This is so that when I decorate the dining room I have the option of paneling that can continue over the door itself, blending it into the wall.
The first step was to mark where the door touches the frame. I knew that cladding to the edge would mean it wouldn’t shut, so this gap needed to be taken into account. With the door closed I drew around the frame onto the door…
Then I took the door off its hinges and laid it on the floor. I laid the lengths of wood onto the door to see how many I needed. Just so you know I didn’t use T&G, but shaped plinths. I did this because I wanted the groove look, but not the additional thickness.
When the boards where laid on the door I came up a little short, but rather than cut one of them I realised two quarter rounds made up the difference.
Next I used strong glue to glue the first length along the drawn line, leaving enough of a gap for the 1/4 round. I clamped is in place to make sure it kept its position, then glued on the quarter round so it was snug. I continued the width of the door, then added the 1/4 round. I left it there for an hour.
I rehung the door and added acrylic between the 1/4 rounds and the door.
I’d already removed the handle, so I drilled through the handle hole on the opposite side, with a smallish drill bit. When I had its placement I drilled a large hole for then the kitchen side. Then I added a fingerplate and doorknob.
Next I added a length of wood above the door, and finished it with a moulded piece and a decorative element.
Due to the depth of the door frame, as a result of the double door, I also added wood into the door frame itself, and trimmed it with quarter rounds. Here it’s is painted. I think it looks quite effective and a lot less than a new door would cost. What do you think?
The recycled kitchen project is steadily coming along, to the point even my husband was excited enough to search some potential ranges ovens. That’s a big deal. He is not the getting ahead of himself type. Basically the opposite to me 😝.
I’m waiting for the chimney to be swept this week and I can’t smooth the surface of the cement floor prior to that because it’s going to take three days to walk on. I didn’t want to start it last week, the heatwave was just too much. So, as we are currently operating out of a small kitchen, I’ve been moving our excess things onto the shelves.
There’s a lot of predominantly whites in these displays. They help to keep an area light whilst the shapes themselves add interest.
Naturals and neutrals
To add a little more interest natural tones can be added…
These look wonderfully classic. However, I don’t have this many whites even with the neutrals mixed in.
One colour display items
Grouping together a single colour gives a sense of calm.
In this one they’ve added secondary tones of yellow. As they’re in the same colour pallet the harmony is maintained.
It’s incredibly stylish, but I don’t have the same colour tone to try this.
I just wanted to introduce this as an alternative to just crockery etc. These pictures displayed on the shelves. The ones selected here seem to add a little elegance, no?
Food as colour
To introduce colour into the mix you can utilise your food itself…
Background as colour
Either subtly like this…
…or more pronounced…
…which is more in line with the kitchen I’ve been working on. The second one also introduces colour into the displayed items as well as the background too.
Colour in items
Again the tones are in the same pallet, but the busier patterns gives it a more lively feel along with the sugary feel.
These are a lot stronger…
Pops of colour
Mixture of colours
These definitely give the impression of an evolving room, with pieces built up over the years rather than one that’s been styled. Even though I’m putting this kitchen together, this is probably where I’m headed. After all, all of my items have been selected over the years.
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.