This is a really simple post for New Year’s Day. I’ve been thinking about how to add mouldings to the walls in the part of our staircase that has the turning stair leading up to the higher floors. Unlike the front hallway at first glance this isn’t a simple one third, one third, one third prospect where I have a type of moulding below a dado, something above in the next third, then a picture rail and ceiling section of moulding. The need to follow a diagonal line which turns into a flat can make this simple formula complicated.
The below dado section is fine, but if you want to add a series of panelled mouldings in the next third, as I do, they have the challenge of having to follow the diagonal line too.
I managed to gain inspiration from great houses and how they handled this dilemma.
Here in this green painted stately home you can see how the mouldings have been used in lines to section off areas giving clear horizontals to create tableaux mouldings. So a narrow, moulded frieze runs from the base of a higher floor around the visible stairwell.
Here it is in a more simply painted white decor, although the mouldings are magnificent.
Here is what I will base my blue and white colour scheme on, with the possibility of less expensive stencilled panels surrounded by simple, wood appliqué moulding frames.
Obviously the ceiling moulding is never going to happen, but it’s interesting to see how the final area on a stairwell landing can be treated.
Last year was meant to be the year the new kitchen was finished. Oh dear….
For those of you who are new to the blog our house has two, connected sides. It was owned by the village doctor and his surgery was in the side that has the spare bedrooms as well as a room that was his former surgery.
The plan is to use the wood bookshelves that are already there as well as solid, wood items like buffets etc to make a vintage looking, free standing kitchen.
We got as far as getting the plumbing finished and the electrics put in – including having the floor dug up to have a kitchen island- and new light fittings installed. However we came unstuck when we started to do the floor and we ultimately decided to continue with the project in the new year.
The area has an entry way with a small, separate toilet that I had electrical outlets put in with the idea of turning it into a stand alone laundry. There is a downstairs already which currently has the machines in there. On laundry days the kids throw down the dirty washing and I gather it up at the bottom of the stairs sort it and stick it through the machine. But with the new layout the machine would be in a separate area and it would mean dragging it through the lower ground floor.
So I started to think maybe I’d just make a walk in pantry? I could have the fridge freezer in there, or even just a stand alone freezer, having only the fridge in the kitchen.
But looking online I came across something interesting – butlers pantries.
These are basically part bar, part serving areas that make it easier to entertain guests. Any destruction caused to the kitchen during cooking can be hidden from view and service can take place from there.
It can also act as a bar, allowing one person to serve drinks/apparatifs to guests without disturbing the cook.
I’ve been Pinterest scrolling for inspiration – let me know what you think of these…
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 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 shared my research on hiding the tv in this post. Of course I wanted a French Country style solution to match the decor and I think I found it in this Aubusson tapestry…
Here is a close up of the tapestry…
It goes perfectly with the faded lavenders of my decor, as you can see from the side arm of the couch.
As you can see I’ve only hung it like a curtain. In the image that inspired me the tv was set in a wall. However the walls in our pre 1850s home are solid stone, so that just wasn’t an option for us. There was however an alcove already dug out of the wall and I took the door off this so that it could easily store our electrical equipment. You can see that here in the shot of the curtain drawn back ….
When we want to watch tv we just move the curtain aside, pull the tv out and angle it.
I hid most of the wiring in some plastic covers. We can’t afford an electrician to come and rewire so that the outlet is directly behind, so I’ve made do with this extension lead stuck on the wall. It’s not as pretty, but you don’t notice it watching tv. Then, when you’re not watching and the curtain is drawn, you don’t see it at all.
I sewed the Aubusson onto a pre-existing, linen curtain. I added the velvet ribbon and the lace trim to finish it off.
The curtain already had the embroidered M monogram and I thought this complimented the curtain and room superbly.
I’m going to share a last touch of DIY with you tomorrow- transforming a modern, plain in built cupboard with moldings to give it a French Country style. Here’s a sneak peek of the cupboard….
You can see the top of it in the corner of the room. Subscribe to be notified of that and an update of the living room in its new style.
By the way, let me know what you think and how you solve your tv dilemma.
I thought I’d put some ideas together on how you can decorate your spare room for Christmas. Scrolling through Pinterest many of the rooms focus on a red theme, however with my spare room that’s just won’t work. I did manage to find some alternative to red that gave me ideas to go in my vintage, country bedroom decor. There are some common areas of decorating that you can add to your spare room to give a special welcome to your guests this time of year, hopefully they’ll inspire me too.
1 A tree
A mini tree, of course, but a tree nevertheless. You can just string lights on it or add some small baubles.
2 Wreaths, garlands and branches
If you can’t do a tree a wreath, garland or even some evergreen branches will bring the season to your guests.
Even baubles on a door handle can make you guest room special.
If you’re guests are staying on Christmas Eve you may want to provide them with a stocking. They can always take them downstairs to hang them if they wish.
I said in the post on welcoming guests how I like to leave candles out, but at this time of year I make sure they reflect the season with their scent.
An easy way to add Christmas cheer in a small guest room is to add a cushion with a Christmas motif. They don’t have to be specifically Christmas focused, deer or other animals will do.
I always have blankets and throws in the guest room – something guests can kick off or snuggle under depending on their mood. This time of year some faux fur blankets can reflect the season; however our guest bedrooms wouldn’t carry them off. Some patchwork quilts that are festive, or a plaid in subdued colours like heathers may be a good substitute.
9 Christmas Bedding
If you wanted to splurge you could go with bedding with prints that reflect the season.
10 Snack tray
On your snack tray leave out some specifically Christmas fare; candy canes, Christmas cookies, hot chocolate with marshmallows……I’ll be doing an in-depth post on this later.
The Christmas countdown is ticking away; are you ready yet?
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?
I’m just finishing up what will be done this year in the living room when I’ve started to think about how my Christmas decor could compliments the new French Country theme. It’s just a series of images to inspire you, and on many of them the blog name of whom they belong to is on there; so you may find someone new to follow. Enjoy!