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.
Those of you who follow the blog know – and if you don’t, we’d love to have you with us – that I’m putting together our kitchen with salvaged and upcycled furniture and wood. Money primarily is the motivator, but also I enjoy the challenge. Sometimes, when it’s frustrating, I don’t; but most of the time it makes life more interesting. This is one post that wasn’t a challenge whilst the work was ongoing, but as it neared completion I realised changes had to be made…..😩🤪.
FYI the reason for this post is how I got the bookcase to stay on the wall, not so much about the painting, staining, varnishing side of things.
Taking a bookcase and turning it into some open, wall shelving.
Why? Well that’s a good question. The bookcase in question is of good quality wood so should be valued. This is something I left off my list of whys before; salvaging and upcycling has meant that I’m constantly using solid, well made, wooden objects in my projects instead of flimsy, plywood, MDF or veneer.
This particular book case was bought when I had an old, Victorian, small terrace house and there were narrow alcoves either side of the fireplace. I had the bookcase made as I couldn’t find anything to fit the gap. It was lovely. Yet in our new home it seems to be a little lost.
The first step was staining the interior of the bookcase so that it matched the rest of the wood tones in the room. Then I added a coat of varnish to give it some protection in the kitchen environment.
Next came some coats of the pink paint I’d used on the central kitchen island; for those of you who are having a look back at that on this link – can you believe how different the room looks now?!!!
When I’d done the kitchen island I’d tried to make my own chalk paint. I prefer this because it scrapes of like, well, chalk and doesn’t flake like latex paints. I’d made some plaster of Paris mixture up to add to the latex paint I’d bought. The first time it had worked well, but the next day I found a lump of cement mixture stuck to the bottom of the huge 5L paint tub. I was so gutted, as I’d planned on using it elsewhere. Since then I’d read a tip that, when doing your own, make up small jars of paint at a time to use in one go to cut down on waste.
I coated the piece in four to five layers of paint as I really wanted to be sure that the piece was well covered. On these layers I painted right side up, but when I was happy with the coverage I laid it on its back on a stand and started on the bottom. This was important because you’d see that when it was hung on the wall.
As I was doing this I was gradually adding T&G to the walls. The corner area was particularly tricky, and in this kind of scenario I like to add a piece and then think what to do next. This worked out really well as I realised that I could use it to disguise fixings and add a little more support.
You can see by my scribbling on the wall where I’d worked out where the cupboard should be based on the tap placement. In fact I scribbled all along this wall to try and give me an idea of where the oven would go, what size of furniture I’d need between the sink and oven etc. It just gives me an idea of what I need to be looking out for next.
As I worked on painting the cupboard I made a sort of shelf of L brackets, so I could rest it on them. On the wall you can see an oblong shape with sections either end. This was marking the base section, which a section missing at the back, and sides of the casing. The T&G would need to go round these side sections and up to the higher line.
But I wasn’t going to solely rely on that. As with the chimney mantle I was going to use z bars on the top. I made a row of them along the back of the cupboard, screwing them in. To discern where they needed to be on the wall I took this off cut of wood and marked on it the two outside edges of the cupboard. Then I took the partner pieces to the exterior z bars and bluetacked them in situ. I placed the wood, aligning the marks I’d done for the outside and then marked where each z bar was.
The reason I did it this way was because their counterparts would need to be in alignment and consequently further beneath the cupboard top.
The final mark I made was indicating the length from the base of the back of the cupboard and the bottom of the companion z bar.
Notice how in the L fixing shelf the part jutting out was at the bottom. This was because the z bars inevitably mean the cupboard would be a little proud of the wall and having the length against the wall situated behind the cupboard would slightly counteract that.
I marked where the width of the cupboard was before resting the off cut of wood on each L bracket and marked off where the bars should be, drawing a line between the marking horizontally along the wall when I was done. Then along this line I drew the markings where each z bar needed to be…
After that I screwed them into the wall. Drilling into these ancient walls can be tricky, and I’m not successful with every one. Even when I start with narrower drill bits to successively wider ones sometimes it just doesn’t work. So I identify which ones can hold the wider screws and use the appropriate size ones for the holes of the remainder. Prior to screwing in I added my builders glue to the back of each bar to add extra support; then I left it over night to dry.
Whilst I was cleaning up I noticed my mistake. I had forgotten to mirror image the plan of the z bars. So I knew tomorrow would mean my slightly altering the bookcase positioning. C’est la vie.
If there is going to be something fixed to a wall I always try and do a couple of coats of chalk paint first on the tongue and groove. That way when you need to paint around the furniture you have a bit of breathing room. Once the wall was painted it was time to see if the fixtures would keep the cupboard in place.
I was nervous when I heaved the now cupboard in place. Would it work? Would it hold its weight? Would it look……odd?
Well, it held its position. Here’s the initial photo….
I was waiting for wood brackets to arrive to fit to the base of the cupboard to make it look less bookcases, so I went ahead and finished the back wall including the oven mantle shelf.
That had been another dépôt vente buy; the detailed cornice had been bought separately another time. I was pleased with it, and my tiling, when it struck me. The large gap between the light and the cupboard.
Added to that I wanted another cupboard to run on the side wall so we could store the oven’s gas bottle and have a side worktop.
When I saw this in the dépôt vente I realised I could solve two problems at once….
The top would go in the bookcases place and the bottom could go beside the oven with the bookcase restituâtes above it.
I’ll update you soon 😊.
For those of you living in France….
I’d also found these z bars in Bricomarche.
In my post on the mantle for the fireplace I used these, but I ordered them from Amazon. I’d actually gone into Bricomarche and shown a picture of them to the staff there, but they didn’t know what I was talking about. Whilst looking for something else I happened to fall upon these. The Amazon ones cost 7€ a pair, whereas these cost 7€ a pack of 4!!! Although they’re slightly smaller than the Amazon ones I’ve still saved myself a lot of money!
Bricomarche is the most expensive Brico, but followers of my Twitter account know my thoughts on that, so my mind turned to wondering how much they were in other places. I couldn’t find them in Brico Cash, the least expensive, but in Le Clerc Brico a pack containing a pair of z bars was 2.60€.
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 kitchen is coming on; I’ve spent the last week tiling and grouting what will be the dishwasher and sink area before laying a laminate floor and I’ve started putting together a housing cupboard for the former. Added to this is some further tongue and groove and some work on a leaky upvc door.
Whilst working on the cupboard like structure to house the dishwasher I primarily wanted to use this sideboard to do it…..
This was the cupboard that came with us from our rental when we moved to France (it’s the one on the bottom). In the above image it’s painted yellow, which was my original colour scheme. I’d bought it in a brocante for less than €30; the price was so low because it was huge and therefore unsuitable for a good many homes. Originally it was used to hold our tv, but wasn’t suitable for the location in our new home. So I thought I’d use it as a kitchen island, then I was going to put a sink in it; but the necessity to change the location of the range oven to the back wall meant that it wasn’t feasible to keep it in its entirety.
As I’d already bought an additional cupboard to use as an island, I gradually stripped it of useful parts, and now the remainder is being use for the dishwasher. The main parts I wanted to use are the side struts with the carved details on them. However it was still being bookmarked for the island when we had the electric work done, and so it was going to be set with plugs sockets. As a result both sides had an oval shape removed from the wood to insert electrical points and they needed to be disguised.
In addition to the holes on the side of the cupboard it didn’t have sufficient depth for the dishwasher. Having tried different things I eventually came up with using the central door panel and facade of the drawer to give extra detail to the cupboard side and cover the hole. Here’s what this looked like in its preparation stage, with the panels glued on. I’d had to weigh it down by….well, everything.
It was fine to use the alternative side to extend the piece as I only needed the front, detailed corner panel as I planned to fit that directly against the wall.
The ‘cupboard’ also needed additional height. I found these lovely blocks of wood leftover from replacing beams in one of the garages to stand the cupboard on. As they weren’t quite long enough for the left hand side, nor wide enough to cover the front, decorated part of the cupboard, I had to adapt them. Here’s what they looked like after a first coat of varnish….
With only one coat of varnish the addition is obvious. However I’ve now added more and you can barely notice it, particularly with the panel details distracting the eye. But you’ll see that when I post the end result.
The additional wood has been attached straight away to the cupboard post end, which is to be attached to the wall; but I was yet to attach the other side.
I painted the main part in chalk paint. I always use chalk paint for salvaged furniture as if there’s any type of irregularities, like the seam where the two pieces of wood are added together, I can add a thicker layer of paint, then sand it back to a smooth finish. You couldn’t do this with latex paint.
In the image below is the strut that I’ve placed on the wall which will have the left side panel attached to it. I added strong glue to the side that will be attached to the wall, put the cupboard side in place and then held the strut firmly against it so it was in the right place. Then I marked where the strut was prior to removing the cupboard side carefully. The mark enabled me to ensure that it had kept the position.
Here’s the housing cupboard attached to the struts…
Here’s the exterior of the cupboard…..
….and here it is with the worktop attached and dish rack above. I’m going to do a post about the worktop next as there’s been a knock in effect with the added cupboard depth which needs resolving. But here it is in it’s current form…
I think that seam from the additional piece of wood is hardly noticeable now. Obviously all the T&G isn’t painted; I work on an area and then move on. This is because if I can’t adapt a piece I may end up reviewing how to get what I want, and this can have an effect for additional work. So, as they say in France, petit par petit l’oiseau fait son nid!
I’ve been working on the area in my kitchen that will house the dishwasher. It’s an odd shape and, in order to be able to fit the dishwasher in, I’ve had to have an extended cupboard area and therefore worktop. I’ve already bought my worktop, and so I’ve been coming up with ways to add to its depth. I didn’t want to add an extra, flat strip of wood on the back, so I’m considering adding a narrow shelf that would fill the gap.
I was worried about what this would look like; would it blend well? What, if anything, would be narrow enough to put on it? So I’ve been scouring the Internet for some visuals to give me ideas. Tell me what you think…
As I approached the third part of the hearth I was a little apprehensive. I was still mulling over the floor tiles that I wanted to trim the fireplace with. They were a little large and, not only did that mean they took up a lot of space, but I thought they overpowered the area.
I came to the conclusion that the pattern of the tiles would cope with being cut in half and still look good. However that left me with the task of cutting them.
In spite of now regularly using a circular saw I was hesitant to use the electric tile cutter my father had lent me. I did find a manual one in the garage though and thought I’d try this first as there was less likelihood of cutting off a digit with this method.
I scored the tile and asked my husband to help me try the first one, but it snapped horizontally and not along the line I wanted it to. It was going to have to be the dreaded electric one.
Once they were cut I laid them in a pattern around the stones again to make sure that they looked good. I tried to make sure any jagged edge would face out into the wood surround that I planned to use.
The latter was from a salvaged piece of wood from the staircase; it had a lovely patina on it and I didn’t want to waste such a good piece of wood. I spent an entire morning cutting into it with the circular saw. It’s hard work, so I was disappointed when I realised that the parts that had been cut away to accommodate the steps of the staircase couldn’t be disguised. I work with so many salvaged pieces of wood and I’ve been successful, but the fact is that it always takes more effort and sometimes that effort doesn’t pay off. C’est la vie! I had to start the tiling process then I could make the decision of how to finish the edge of the hearth place when I had a clearer idea of what it would look like,
I’d bought three more bags of the cement made for fireplaces. After laying out the tiles with the uncut sides facing outward, and using this metre spirit rule to straighten the edge, I started the process on the tile which was to be next to the stone that protruded the most. This tile would be the furthest out and all the others would have to align with it after all.
Above you can see the first two tiles that I fixed to the fireplace and below you can see how I applied the cement against the walls of the original stones.
Having removed the tile I wanted to place, I sprayed the area with water and then spread some of the concrete mixture to cover the area needed (having the other tiles remaining in place helped me to not go too far) and then I added more mixture creating a slope that covered the front line of the stone. Having sprayed the back of the tile with water I laid the tile in place.
After I placed the second tile I pushed some concrete between the two, sprayed with water and used my finger to smooth out the area between the two tiles. Then I took a rag and wiped away any excess concrete and liquid.
I finished all along the first row, then did the sides. As much as possible I smoothed out the cement between the exterior tile and the floor.
At the moment the cement is black, but it dries to a dark grey…
I’ve decided to leave the hearth as it is in terms of the doing for the moment though. When I lay the wood flooring I can add a wood detail like this between the laminate and tile….
The next thing to do is fix an iron fireback, a fire basket and the fire guard.
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’ve done one post on the breakfast nook, but I’ve been thinking about how we’ll use the space with the fire. It needs to be practical, to eat dinner, but I also want it to have comfy chairs. One of the main challenges in combining the two are my two daughters. How do I have comfy chairs that can be washed? Slipcovers? Removable covers? These are the solutions I’ve come up with that may work.
The first thing I did was to search for dining rooms with a fire on Pinterest to give me some idea of how others have arranged theirs. These dining rooms are cosy and welcoming, but comfortable? I’m not so sure. If you sat for some time in these chairs would you not be a bit stiff? I want our dining area to be one where you can slip into a comfy seat and spend some time, not just eating, but socialising.
The next thing I came up with was a banquet. You can certainly slip in and out easily, so good for the kids, and they can be comfy. You can also use removable, washable covers. All good for an area to dine in. However when I imagine sitting somewhere for any length of time I think of leaning against the arm of something. I want comfy cosy as well as practical.
Mine is a French country home, so I want it to be in sympathy with the kitchen and the home itself. These are comfy chairs, with arms, and removable covers on the cushions. I wouldn’t necessarily have them in white though.
I already have this cane sofa that would combine these styles.
I have some Berger chairs, so naturally I started to think how these could be adapted.
A solution would be to have some standard chairs that the girls can sit on to eat, with removable slip covers, along with more comfortable banquettes when it’s time to do homework in front of the fire.
I found these……I love them! Elegant kitchen ✅ Tongue and groove ✅ French chairs ✅
I love the combination of pink buffalo check and charcoal grey. As I said in my previous post my kitchen will be will have an emphasis on faded elegance, rather than just the elegance of this kitchen.
It will be ages until I’m at the stage of the breakfast nook…..there’s the flooring to do, a doorway to open before the flooring, the hearth to set, the sink to fit……oh my gosh. So much! But I can dream, can’t I?
When I was thinking about window treatments for the new kitchen I was struck by how kitchen windows treatments differ from all the others in the house in that they don’t tend to be something you close at the end of the day to cut out the world. Unless your kitchen can be looked directly into there isn’t the need for privacy, you don’t really close them for warmth due to cooking appliances and you don’t want light blocked out as it’s a work space. So they are primarily for decorative purposes; although you might want slight shade if you’re in a very bright, sunny spot.
The back of our home gets sun from early morning to evening and, as the kitchen has no shade from nearby buildings, we may want the capacity to reduce this brightness – but the view of the garden and surrounding countryside is something we want to maintain as much as possible.
With that said I don’t want a naked window, I like a decoratively framed window. Should it be a pelmet? A semi opaque blind that would infuse any light if it were too intense?
As I was searching for a solution I realised I had this pair of cupboard doors…
I love the wood so I’d bought them on the off chance that I could fit them to the bookcases already in situ. However they’d been too wide and cutting them to size would have all but destroyed them. So they’ve been sat there waiting for a new home. I suddenly realise that instead of cupboard doors they could become shutters. It would dress the window, they could be partially closed to minimise the worst glare of the sun, but have much of the garden view exposed and they would be in sympathy with the “faded elegant” look of the country kitchen I was going for. Perfect.
Of course I turned to Pinterest for inspiration; the pins I curated can be divided largely into white, coloured and their natural wood.
Many of these shutters I’ve selected are of the Georgian style that sit within the window casing. The depth of the window wouldn’t allow for that, and I don’t want to cut the shutters to achieve the look.
The clean, intact paint above is so lovely and personally I prefer this to the weathered look below. However the cut out pattern is lovely.
I love how the introduction of handles can add more interest…
I noticed how some had extended the window area below the window itself, and this space could be used as a window seat; considering the difficulty I was facing with the quality of cement beneath that area I was incredibly tempted with this idea….
Here’s a window seat area within a kitchen itself….
However I don’t have the skills to do this easily, due to the lockdowns we don’t have money to get help and ultimately I decided that the space had to be used as a seated area for the dining table. Accommodating window seating would mean that the rest of the length of the corner wouldn’t have seats as free standing seats would mean the table would automatically be moved away from the window. So I moved back to an idea of a comfortable couch that you could sit to dine on too.
Within the woodwork are the telltale signs of termites. Whether they’ve been dealt with so the piece is safe to use or not is to be determined. I’ll go into that in more detail in another post, but a way I’ve found to identify if termites are active is to simply paint the piece; active termites will break through and break the wood. But I didn’t have to paint the shutters white.
Inspired by this image in my tongue and groove research….
…but unsure how so much pink in a kitchen would affect my husband’s mental health, I considered reversing the colour option and having pink shutters in contrast to the white wall and wood of the sill.
An alternative would be these subtle greys…
Or a weathered, paint effect….
Yet the natural wood is so pretty. It would take more work to maintain due to the possibility of woodworm, but I think it would be worth it.
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.