Our First Light Has Gone Up!

Our first light

IMG_0949

When we rented an old farmhouse in France we found that many of the lights just had wires and a bulb attached. The house owner wasn’t a cheapskate – it’s normal here. Sometimes the bulbs go too! Whenever I remember this I’m struck by the generosity of the people who we bought from as they left not just light shades, but curtains and others things too.

As a result, and because we had planned to stay there a long time originally, I bought many light fixings. One of them was an empire chandelier. It looked a little bedraggled in the shop, but having taken it a part and cleaned it up I think it looks fine now.

You may notice too the ceiling rose which I’ve painted along with the ceiling. It was quite tricky being that it was in situ, and as a result I didn’t take any photos to show you how I got the slight, white edging on the leaves. I’m going to do another soon for the hallway and as it’s in a box at the moment I’ll do a step by step then.

This is a look before…

IMG_0406

and after the ceiling rose has been painted….

IMG_0950

You can see the cornice and dado rail that I’ve been putting up too, but I’ll tell you about that soon. Sorry about the quality of the photos, the room is a little dark as it’s north facing and a grey day here. If I can I’ll upload better photos later.

Easy Watermark Removal From Furniture

 

easy watermark removal from furniture

This is a post from my old blog that I thought I’d republish in light of this.

No matter how many coasters you put around your living room you’re bound to have watermark circles on your furniture, or perhaps some other water damage. Read on to learn how to correct this easily.

 

IMG_9321When I saw this table in my local Brocante I loved it. You can’t see it in the main picture but the legs have these beautiful carvings. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the price ticket of 35€ and knew exactly where I’d put it.

When I took a closer look at it I could see the reason for its low price; the top had been damaged by water and there were little white splash marks all over it. I new I could correct this though without too much fuss so quickly snapped it up.

Marks like these can be made by liquid or steam – they are more commonly found as a result of hot cups on a table and are usually white or light-colored. If they’re light coloured it signifies that they haven’t penetrated deeply, so it’s safe to buy that Brocante piece. If the stain is dark, however, it indicates that the liquid has damaged the finish on the wood and possibly through to the wood itself, so you may want to give it a miss as you’ll have more of a fix on your hands.

With my table top this is the method I used successfully, but there are additional methods below.

How I Fixed My Table Top

I used spray oil from my kitchen cupboard for my first step – yes, that’s right, just IMG_9305normal, cooking oil. However other materials to use that you can find laying around the house are mayonnaise or petroleum jelly. Basically you’re going to remove the watermark with oil.

Here you can see the wood before and the result after I’ve rubbed in the oil (I’m afraid the before photos don’t really show how vivid the marks were). To finish with I had some Annie Sloan dark wax and as this was a dark wood I decided to use that. However any solid, polishing wax for wood can be rubbed used. It’s that simple!IMG_9311

Other Methods To Use

  1. Put a little toothpaste, not the gel type, on a wet cloth and rub the stain gently until the spot disappears. The mild abrasive in the old fashioned, white toothpastes will remove the stain. Wash it and then wax as I did. If you have only  gel toothpaste you can mix a little baking soda with water to form a paste and rub this in. Just to be sure I’d try this method on a piece of wood you can’t see first, but it really isn’t so harsh as to cause problems. Again clean off and wax.
  2. This next one you will definitely need to try on a hidden piece of wood; if the product dissolves the finish, obviously, don’t use it. Use a mild solvent such as a paint thinner and apply it with a moist, soft cloth in a circular motion until the stain is gone. Squeeze excess moisture from the cloth, and then rub gently until the stain is gone. Again clean it and wax it.

Plans For Our French House Front

House Front

I’m coming to the end of decorating our dining room which, thanks to the fabulous floor I’ve found, hasn’t taken as long as I expected. The valance for the curtains I’m sewing our a little tricky and I expect they’ll take another week. Then I want to finish painting the cornice I’ve put up. Yes, that’s right, me – all be myself! I’ll tell you about it and the curtain valance later.

But at the moment their are daffodils outside our house; a sure sign hat spring is on its way. So my mind is turning to the front of the house and the plans I have for it.

As I said in my introduction to our French home the house front was not a selling point for me. I’d dreamed of something like this…

02a8c01da8b88f0396170789b87a67e6

and got this…

ResizeImage.aspx 4

Now, I’m one of those people who love, love, love to decorate. Since I’ve had my own money I’ve bought Country Living Interiors magazines and pored over them ,as well as any other similar magazines (two things to note here: firstly, I mean my first Saturday job money, yes that obsessed. Secondly Pinterest has saved me a fortune). So it wasn’t the lack of shutters or any kerb side appeal, I can do that, but it was the door. UPVC. No scroll iron work. Can’t paint it my own colour (little sigh, reminds herself that there are people actually suffering and we’ve just got our dream home).

Anyway….

I think you need to be wise with both your money and the earth’s resources; it’s one of the reasons why I post about up-cycling and repurposing. There are so many things just thrown out; better to invest some time in them rather than let them go on the scrap heap, yes? So no new front door.

Prior to buying our home we rented an old farmhouse to find out if we liked living in the country and an old house. I’m so glad we did, although I think that was more God’s design than mine as I was impatient to buy. Our dream of rural living was isolating with two young children and a second language to contend with.

The house was lovely, but it was ancient and the windows were weathered, wooden ones. We spent about 700 euros a month on fuel and as soon as the fuel went the house would freeze. Not a great way to live with two small children.

When we were waiting to move and I was pinning away, making my plans, I had lots of images of wooden, French doors on my site. I’d even made a deal with my husband that we’d get a new one. But gradually over time I started to reconsider; surely the money would be better spent elsewhere? If not given where God wants it to go.

Then when we moved; heat! Such luxury. The double glazing in the house has made such a difference to us in a cold, wet winter. I actually went ahead and ordered more fuel the other day as we’d moved in over Christmas and had only ordered a half load and I fully expected there to be an empty tank. I didn’t need the full load at all, unbelievable.

So I may not like the UPVC as it stands, but comfort and bank book is coming first and I’m making plans about what to do to get a more ‘wow’ look (I’m using a lot of the images I found or stored onto Pinterest, follow my boards for more ideas on the links above).

Handle

My plans had, of course, involved painting our front door various shades. However although I’ve researched painting upvc it’s a daunting prospect, so I’m sticking with the white. Nevertheless if you look at these examples a white front door doesn’t have to be boring.

e6833db370916f527d4673f79cbd15331af235bb29b48dc86f1ee8589b4451c3

At the moment not only is our door white, but our handle is too. Although I can’t get a black handle for upvc (I don’t think) the gold makes a difference yes? I can’t get the detail on these either, but I think that just the contrast between the door and the handle in conjunction with my other planned changes should make a satisfactory difference.

Lights

448d8682f555cfb8627bc293161ef9a0

Again a white front door with contrasting hardware, but all of a sudden the lighting either side adds something, yes?

I’ve been hunting various styles on Amazon to give me further inspiration and they are relatively inexpensive. I’ve chosen brass, Victorian or Edwardian era styles as the house is so old.

Doorbell

To accompany these changes and the period I’m considering just a simple upgrade of the doorbell. Very inexpensive, but can add to the impact significantly.

Lace curtains or tranfers

I’d always wanted the metal grillwork of a French front door, but seeing this picture made me think I could have the same feel..

65db7754879325060868f50f8517ffb9

I’ve found this lace curtains or even this transfer from Laura Ashley that would reflect the period I’m going for.

House number

Uploading this transfer from Laura Ashley to my pins led to similar pins emerging of decals for transfer windows. How amazing are these?

I love the ones with the street name as well. Very Sherlock Homes. Classic, not Cumberbatch.

Mat

An additional image gave me the idea for an iron mat.

0fc4db74487b4ca3ba6df492b89a16a7

I found this one, which I think is perfect..

s-l1600

Topiary

Of course as well as framing the door with external lights I want to have some topiary, I especially like spiral clipped ones, but any good evergreen will frame the door well and add character.

I love that colour purple for our shutters by the way.

Plantings

As well as specific topiary plantings I want to have additional plants along the front of the house. There are some areas that have had the paving stones removed from of the house, so I’ll be using a mixture of in the ground and planters to get this type of effect.

aaea5968813bc6ff07b31cd471ce22b4

640a01b9d9df7d9a9834922bd1152f226c27f5d74b1890760534f73bff6fec4f

Shutters

I can’t find an image of the type of purple I like, but you get the impression of purple shutters with this image

7a09fcf4ab85eac23b37f71a8ad03a5c

As well as the dark purple and colour scheme I like here (the greys I’m thinking of as the stone used for the house, the blue grass for planters, garage door etc).

 

Post box

We only have a letterbox at the moment, but I’m hoping to persuade my hubby to get one of these in the future.

2091deeea120f35b452085abcd1956f8555

 

Considering the door would have cost 1000s, and I would have wanted all of these to dress the house front anyway, I think I’m basically just upgrading the door with a handle, lace curtains, transfer and bell. So that will be about 100-150, not bad.

Any ideas? I’d love to hear them.

 

Vintage Wall Lights With No Electrical Outlet?

Vintage light no electric

Why not turn them into wall sconces?

IMG_0833

I’d bought these wall sconces for 2€ each at a brocante before we moved. There were lots of electrics for them in our rented home, but not here. The stones in our ancient home, as many are here, are incredibly thick so having the electrics fitted for them would be expensive and a lot of work (I dread to think what the walls would look like afterwards). So for some time I’d been wondering where they’d fit in the house, dismissing each place in turn.

Then I had a brainwave; I’d only be using them very occasionally, perhaps when we had meals with candlelight, so why not use them as such? This is what I did and, believe me, it takes less than two minutes to convert them, ten including drilling a whole in the wall.

Here are the steps in photos;

 

1. The light fitting with wire.

2. Take out the bulb if there is one.

3. Take of the light shade.

4. Unscrew the lightbulb fitting main.

5. Pull it until all the wire comes out.

6. Put everything back together (without the wire and bulb fitting).

Hang the sconces on the wall and put a tealights in the bottom – it should cover the hole and the glass protects the wall.

IMG_0839

Opening Up The Space

opening up the space

I have some really pretty tea sets that I’ve bought over the years and since we’ve moved to France I’ve managed to buy some soupières for a couple of euros each. I wanted to display them, yet even though  there are some glass display cases in the salon I wanted the soupière at least to go in the dining room. When we arrived there was this cupboard here….

IMG_0840

I hated it as it looked so functional and odd just there on the wall (I kept expecting to find an electric circuit behind it it as so utilitarian  to my eyes). As I wondered what to do – change the handles? Add some decorative mouldings on the doors? Or some above the casing? – I came across a bargain in my local Centrakor. There on the shelves was some paint for walls and wood that cost just 1,99€ in the perfect shade of blush pink. I knew immediately that it would reflect the colours in my Nativity medallion and, as paint is extremely expensive in France, I couldn’t resist.

That’s when I started to think that perhaps I didn’t need the doors at all. I tested the paint on the inside door and, convinced as to how fantastic it would look, the doors were off and painting seriously begun.

I made sure that I left four hours in between coats and the recommended 24 hours before I placed anything on the shelves – there have been so many times I’ve not let paint cure properly and when I’ve put something  on them they’ve proved tacky. It’s a worry when you’re trying to pull China away from a shelf, believe me.

A simple upgrade – what do you think?

IMG_0838

Finding Little Treasures….

Finding little treasures

….or even big ones!

In the dining room you when I did an introduction to our home you can see a brown, hardwearing carpet. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t resist one evening having a little sneak peak underneath and this is what I found……

IMG_0627IMG_0629

It looks like a marble material, there are glistening flecks in it. I’ve shown it to my dad and he thinks that someone has laid some of these stones and then glazed it over the top. It looks like the white marks are just fixing adhesive and I’ve rubbed it with my fingers to see if it can be moved and it comes away. I’m excited to find out if it’s just in one corner, or if it goes all the way underneath the floor and if it’s the latter is it all in one piece.

As my Pops says; there’s only one way to find out…..

Welcome To Our Home

Welcome to our home

GI know up until now I’ve written of my Catholic life, but I have an absolute passion for creating a warm, cosy, welcoming home by doing up old furniture and making soft furnishings and I really wanted to share this with you too. so I thought I’d start by sharing a walkthrough of our new home.

The house itself is in a little French village and used to belong to the doctor. Everywhere I go in the village when I give my address if they seem confused I say this and straight away they know; telling me about my own home’s features!

The house is on a hill and is in the place where a chateau used to be, in fact the stone from the house comes from the old chateau. I thought I’d take you on a tour of just a few of the rooms downstairs as they are now – the good, the bad, and the ugly – I won’t do them all as I wouldn’t want to bore you!

House Front

The back of the house is lovely and was used to advertise the property…..

 

 

ResizeImage.aspx

IMG_0459

ResizeImage.aspx 2

1821600074656T02

ResizeImage.aspx 3

However the front is not so appealing and looks like this….

ResizeImage.aspx 4

I’d always dreamed of having a traditional French front door so I’m not going to lie to you, the front was a disappointment. However I think it would be impractical in cold, rainy Northern France (that description may not appeal to some people, but my Irish roots means my skin and I love it) and also possibly expensive. So I’m going to focus on giving the front door some wow factor in the coming months.

I’d also dreamed of a house with shutters and this can be far more easily replicated.

Hallway

 

IMG_0609IMG_0607Original Hallway 1

Going into the hallway I love the dado rail, although there isn’t a ceiling medallion to go with it. These glass doors are wonderful as they keep the light and the heat in. I really wish they had bevelled glass, but I can live with it. The colour is a little strong for me too, but easily changed. I love that the doors have panelling and brass door handles. I wouldn’t have chosen this stone floor, but actually the more I see it the more I like it.

IMG_0679IMG_0678IMG_0677Hallway carpet 1

As you go in through the glass doors its a little more…..bleugh. Carpeted walls (?), plain doors into the kitchen and laundry room and a polystyrene ceiling. However the wonderful wooden stairs with its brass features makes up for all of that. Over Christmas my family watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” and my husband made a comment about how our finial lifts out of the socket like there one does. I kind of think that he was watching the film and happily imagining a replication of the on and off screen scenarios; with the main character coming home and finding his wife busily doing up their old house and children happily playing.

As you walk up to the upstairs landing you find this wonderful, large window that actually goes up to the top, attic floor which give a beautiful view that meets you whenever you start to go downstairs. The landing has this beautiful stripped, wood floor which I love.

Even further up the turning staircase there are some original dolly light switches, a glass tulip light fitting and some paisley, victorian style wallpaper. The attic is big and spacious and a wonderful armoire was left behind – apparently it was here when the previous owners moved in 35 years ago.

 

Dining Room

IMG_0408IMG_0407IMG_0406

On your left as you go in is the, for now, dining room. The wood panelling is gorgeous IMG_0405and is probably original from the chateau as I know lots of the original features are used in the houses around here. I also love these radiators and double windows. the big box shapes above the windows are part of electronic shutters and I plan covering them.

Living room

The living room has this amazing extension and is the most modern part of the house as a result. These black light fittings where here when we moved (in fact most of the light fittings remained, which is very unusual in France). I found them to be a little too stark for my taste and as I already had the purple lamp shades this seems like a good way to bring them in IMG_0671line with how the rest of the room is coming together.

When I was planning the decor of the house before we bought (you can follow me on Pinterest through the icons) I’d wanted something more French Country, but actually the very light grey shade on the paper in the summer room and slight shimmer in the main room seems to reflect pieces of furniture and decor I already had, so I’m changing my mind.

One thing I won’t be dissuaded from is making the fireplace more traditional as I hate the corner one (It’s not pictured here, I obviously hate it so much I forgot to photograph it). Although I love that the cupboards have internal lights, and they reflect the fabric artwork I have, I don’t like their plain structure, although other people love them. I think a little additional moulding might be in order!

IMG_0659IMG_0672IMG_0641IMG_0650IMG_0665IMG_0647

Again, very unusually, many of the curtains have been left in the house and this set were one of such. I think the material is great but as I wanted curtains to go all the way round the bay and these don’t I won’t be keeping them. However they’re going to a good home so I don’t feel guilty – my mum loves them!

The room is slowly coming together. I’d done most of the re-upholstery on the lilac couch prior to moving and I’ve got material for the Queen Anne chair and the other large sofa to cover them too (They’ll be in gold and a striped lavender shade) – I’m so pleased as these go with the grey and off-white really well don’t they?

I’d actually gone of the paintings that have already gone up, but they’ve found a new lease of life here!

I’m hoping to have the higgledy piggledy nature of it sorted by the end of the year. Can’t wait to start some projects!

What do you think?