The telephone table was actually lovely. I’d bought it online in the U.K. prior to our move to France from someone who did upcycling and sold pieces on eBay.
I especially loved the seat and plan to do something with the fabric.
So why did I decide to change it?
As it was half seat, half table it was difficult to place it in the house. When telephones were a new invention and you had one at a fixed point in the home this made sense. Answer a call, sit and have a chat. Need somewhere to store a phone book? There’s a little slot.
But….that’s not what we do now is it? Since the 80s we’ve had hands free phones, not to mention our lives tied to mobiles. We’ve seriously considered just keeping mobile phones. The only thing that stops us is an emergency scenario where a fixed phone could save lives.
You know where it is.
Since moving here the telephone table has been under the stairs. Too wide to fit in snugly under there to make use of its seat, it was wasted really, with its positioning against the wall running into the stair treads.
The creation of the vestibule area and the evolving sitting room encouraged me to look again at the piece.
I thought I’d share here because, even though this is the simplest of upcycles, it might give you ideas so you can save a similar piece in your home.
This isn’t a how to, just a you could. But here’s how it was….
And here’s how it is…
Everything is recycled. I removed the seat pad, shelf and back and then I took some old seat pads to make an upholstered bench.
The seat pads where from a set I’d bought for garden seats that I loved. They had a paisley pattern with a gold shimmer. However the pattern, including the shimmer, faded and it ended a dirty grey.
So I split three sides of the pads along the seams and used them for the padding on the bench. I then used a staple gun to secure it in place with the clean, but bleugh, material as a lining.
Then I used the left over velvet form these chairs as a cover, before trimming it with piping and ribbon.
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.
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’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…
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.
I’ve always loved tongue and groove; it seems so much warmer than cold tiles. Followers of the blog will know how I uncovered a stone wall when I took down the staircase in the will be kitchen, as we call it, and I’d hoped to reveal the stones and have it as a feature wall. The difficulty is that I need a lime plaster and, even though I’d found out the name in French and could show pictures of it, I couldn’t locate it here. I’ve no doubt, due to the picture, that it can be obtained, but despite endless attempts to get my message across I failed.
I can communicate effectively in French the majority of the time, but when it comes to technical conversations I’m stumped!
So I opted for tongue and groove. I’ve already completed one area in the kitchen, but doing so over the stone wall is proving difficult. I’ll update you on that later, but in the meantime I thought I’d share my inspiration for this ever so country form of decor.
Firstly I want to be clear, when I’m talking about T&G I’m talking the horizontal version, not shiplap. Having said that, there are wonderful examples of this type below…
Here is the quintessential country look I’m going for. It’s very bright and airy; perfect for a kitchen. These interiors range from farmhouse to English country to vintage. J’adore!
You can use it in different lengths, therefore giving the room a look you choose. So if you want to make a room with high ceilings cosier, use it half way up the wall. Use it full length to cover irregular walls. Or one third up the wall, above or below, for just enough detail.
Make it useful
I love that you can use hanging pegs, shelves and rails to make the practical as well as pretty.
Consideration for taps
One of the things I’m having to be careful of is the pipe work. Inevitably there will be leaking taps and that will only affect the woodwork. This is a great solution though.
I love this extra touch around the door.
As we’re having an open fireplace in the kitchen I like to look at different ideas to integrate the fireplace with the tongue and groove.
Different colour schemes
These dark colour schemes and the gorgeous pink completely changes the look. I’m so tempted by the pink, but don’t know if it will be too much for my husband. Considering he does most of the cooking it might be a little cheeky to set him up in a candy coloured kitchen!
I’ll update you on the T&G when I’ve finished that corner of the kitchen.
I’ve done a few posts about adding mouldings in various parts of the house (here and here for example), but I evidently can’t get enough of little Victorian style flourishes in my home. So naturally I’ve started to add them into the area I’m working on most recently; that pesky, upcycled kitchen.
For those of you who are new to reading the blog I started our kitchen when we moved into the house, three years ago now. Electrics have been inserted, along with plumbing and we’ve since run out of money. COVID hasn’t helped us . My husband’s business is attached to the cruise industry in the States and we’ve had minimum money for a year as the industry has been dormant throughout this period.
My main aim in doing the kitchen was to ensure that as much as possible was from upcycled items because I wanted a vintage feel, the furniture should be more substantial than we can normally afford and it’s far less expensive. I could go on about the environment but, to be honest, I just like old things.
We still have some more structural work that’s come up due to design changes and so there will be lots of boring jobs there for a while, but I’ve been working on the kitchen cupboards with some details. Before I do a post on that I thought I’d share with you what inspired me.
All of these you can reproduce to a greater or lesser extent with some adaptions of wood mouldings/panels and I hope to be doing this in various parts of my home in the coming months. So let’s go…
Window above sink
I think these are a wonderful idea if you don’t want a traditional window treatment in a kitchen (think grease), or you want a simple blind, but still want to add a wow factor. These can be reproduced with a ready made bracket like this one I found on ebay or, if you want something more in line with the salvaged, vintage feel, there are gingerbread mouldings that are sold so you can have the look of the second image in this set.
Unfortunately as French windows open internally, this this is just not an option for me. I hope to come up with an alternative though, so I’ll keep you updated.
I love these and I’ve already thought of areas in my home where reproducing something like this and using voile curtains could give a light, airy feel. I’m thinking that you could use panels like this joined together with longer pieces of wood and some corbels or brackets like those above.
Obviously the first three images are original features in a home, but if you can’t afford an artisan to come a reproduce something of this quality then imaginatively using laser cut MDF panels such as the link above, along with corbels and other salvaged items is an option.
The last images in the series demonstrate that using more simple designs could get you an effective look, with the latter two suiting tastes of those who like a more pared down look.
These are all images from the hallway and can add interest to a part of the house that could be bland if you haven’t the room for furniture.
The image that orginally inspired me for the kitchen, the one from the tv series The Good Witch that I’ve used in my introduction, uses this kind of room divider between kitchen and informal dining area. Although we plan on having a breakfast nook the space just doesn’t allow for a clear partition like that. To be honest I can’t think of anywhere in my home where I need to identify seperate area, but I thought you might enjoy these.
The first image is a screen door, but I love how they’ve introduced this look into the kitchen with pantry doors. I like things more hidden in a pantry, but I’m thinking of reproducing this look into the kitchen itself. I’ll keep you updated.
As I said, I’m going to post about my cupboard soon, but this is a great idea and easily reproduced.
Whether from salvaged items, used as breakfast bar details, shelves or door mantles these all work.
It would take a little work for our stairs to do this effectively as we have straight, not staggered, sides. Again, not too hard or overly expensive to achieve.
I wanted to include this as you may find a salvaged piece that you can’t integrate, but you love. What a fantastic idea!
Over the last week both my daughters have been home, we thought my little one had chicken pox and cancelled their time in the centre récré. It was a false alarm, but it meant we spent time together as a family so little decorating work has been done.
So I’m returning to some inspirational dreaming to get me back in the mood for some heavy lifting this week. Here are some breakfast nook areas that I’m inspired by this week. Tell me our favourite.