Having finished tongue and grooving the two walls near the back door I added a panel to lengthen the under stair so they ran parallel to the other side….
The panel is the side of the armoire that the mirrored door in the kitchen came from. You’ll notice the wood block underneath; this was left in the garage by the previous owner. I’ve used others that were there in the will be kitchen.
As the side of the armoire had a detailed piece that I didn’t want to lose and it didn’t quite reach the top the block served to raise it up to fill the gap. Well, almost.
I just marked on the wood the lowest point where it needed to meet the stairs and the highest. I cut along the line I drew between the two with my jigsaw.
As there was a wood strut where the stair panel ended I glued the two together and clamped them tight.
I carried on gluing tongue and groove to the brick wall under the stairs. I have another armoire door (don’t ask 😖) and I thought I could make a cupboard under the stairs using this.
It’s incredibly heavy. As I heaved it down the stairs the weight made me think about how to support it. Although I have heavy duty hinges I thought it would be a good idea to add a few rollers to the bottom too, just to be sure.
I measured the door and it came to just below the back of one of the stair treads. There’s an additional piece of wood that runs along the stair as it descends that juts out slightly. I ran two lengths of wood horizontally beneath that in line with where the door will stand.
I finished tongue and grooving the back and side of the space.
As I finished that days work I took a length of wood and glued it so it ran parallel to the base of the door. The wheels that needed to be screwed in where too wide to attach without doing this.
The mirrored door was a little too narrow so I added a panel to the side of the cupboard.
I left this part of the project at this stage to continue with the doorway. However, having found a bargain Henry II buffet, I used a lovely detailed piece from that to finish off the door.
You can see in the above picture that I’d originally painted the surrounding area white, but not the door. I wasn’t sure at that stage if I wanted to have it all white and thought a contrast might look nice. But I decided that painting all the section would help to unify the whole area in the end. This hasn’t got its fin coat yet, but you get the idea.
There’s lots more work to do, I’ll add another update soon.
I thought I’d focus this post not so much on the how to, but the what to use in terms of recycled items. It’s not only good for the environment in terms of less landfill, but saves money, time in terms of shopping trips, packaging, and fuel going to get/having delivered the resources.
I’ve always loved this style of French cane chairs…
Gorgeous isn’t it? So when I saw this on le Bon Coin I knew I wanted it. For 35€ it was a good price too, particularly as the style above is sold in the region of $1,500…
The fabric is obviously 🤢, but the frame is solid with no woodworm and the springs are strong. I checked this when I went to buy it, but the other thing I noticed was that the seat cushion filling is a little strange. It’s sort of….crispy 🤨. Not dirty, but it has a crispy kind of sound when you press it. Weird.
So straight away I knew that this would need to be replaced. That’s ok though. As many of you who follow the blog know I like to salvage as much as I can, so I actually have some feather pads and foam from furniture that is no longer wanted for various reasons. When I first started doing up old furniture I was shocked at just how expensive these items can be, so now any furniture that may have been just taken to the tip gets a good going over to see what can be kept in the attic until I can use it.
You can see that my chair and the one I like are different in shape, which I’m ok with, but the back rest is very different. It doesn’t have wings, but I wandered if behind the padding was more cane. When I got it home I started to look under the fabric and found this…
A solid wood frame, and some strange wadding. It also reeks of cat, yuck.
So there’s no lovely rattan back to reveal, so that’s going to have to be reupholstered in a similar style, but I wanted a more modern wadding. Under the seat pad it looks like this….
The wood itself I really like and, although I had intended to give the chair the whitewashed effect of the target chair, I started to think I’d actually like to keep it as it is. The one thing that gave me pause was the idea that I already had this ottoman….
which I thought would go really well with the chair. However it’s legs were painted white, so I needed to check out if if they could be made like the chair, or if the chair would need to be made like the ottoman. Either away I wanted to bring the chair more in line with this structure on the left, so that I can put the two together like the one on the right…
I knew I’d need to have a second pad on the top of the ottoman that will match that on the chair. So let’s get to work.
After removing the fabric and wadding at the back of the chair I could see those strong springs and this interior section which is still in good shape.
Here’s the front – I’ve yet to hoover off the remainder of the wadding. As I focus on recycling it’s obvious that this is something that can be maintained.
I had to unscrew the side arms to remove the material tucked in. It was hard going as it’s a well made piece.
I disconnected the two springs holding the material that he’d the seat pad above in place and removed it, splitting the worn material open to reveal this deteriorated sponge. I shook that out and washed the remaining material; this and the internal panel was kept. It might not be pretty, but is still strong fabric. So it needed to be washed and have foam placed on top to replace the interior foam. The frame and back were hoovered really well as it was mainly in good condition.
I then used some salvaged foam from a sofa bed that we aren’t going to be using in this home. I cut a foam seat pad in half before cutting it into the shape of the backrest. The second half was going to be used on the seat.
I used fabric glue spray to attach the foam to the seat back, and added fresh wadding from an unused throw cushion that I stapled into place with its interior lining.
The remainder of that sofa bed is going to be used on other projects, so I’ll keep you updated.
The rest of the chair was covered with this knew, lavender velvet material. I also added a new seat pad from the additional back cushions of the sofa bed….
Then for the ottoman.
I made another pad from the sofa bed cushion and sewed one side of a zip along its length. Then I sanded the legs and stained them with this stain and wax, left it two hours then buffed it into a shine.
I took material sufficient to cover the original ottoman and placed it on top of it. Then I put the new pad on top and pushed into both ends of the other side of the zip, then further pinned it along its length. Undoing the zip entirely, I then sewed the second half to the still loose material.
Reattaching the two sides of the zip to make sure the pad was placed correctly I stapled the material on the four sides of the ottoman with one staple each side. After removing the zip again I then stapled the fabric to the ottoman and covered the base in the contrasting fabric.
I’d already added grey piping to the pads, but now I finished the project with some gold, nail-head trim.
It has a very different feel to the target chair, but it goes very well with the room. My daughters love it. Its positioning in t window gives it a perfect place to read and dream 🥰.
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.
Work is still going on under the stairs and at the back of the hallway. As the back door is the only one in the house that’s not double glazed retaining heat is a big consideration. So I adapted this curtain to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
You’d be amazed at the cold chill you’re hit with when you draw the curtain back in the morning. Speaking of tiebacks, I got these from ebay.fr. They’re meant to go either side of the window, but with the door being right next to the wall one tie back wouldn’t work. So by doubling them up like this they work.
It had been too long, so I took the end off and sewed it as a trim on the top, adding this lovely lace.
That and the dog draught excluder make an enormous difference.
The painting is one I found at a brocante a long time ago. I think the slightly battered frame and her wistful expression suit the area.
The area needed light, as the one that had been there was tucked under the stairs behind the new cupboard.
I bought some beautiful, crystal chandelier wall lights from the same brocante, but there wasn’t a power outlet on the wall. This is my solution, so this is my solution. Now, I’m not an electrician, so please don’t take anything I’m about to say as professional advice.
I bought a lamp, electrical cord. It had an integrated light switch and a plug on one end. I attached this to the wall light and fixed the latter to the wall. Then I secured the cord to the wall and beams with cable clips. Finally I plugged it into an extension cable and clipped this to the beams length until it was plugged into a light socket.
I’m going to disguise the cord in another of my winter proofing techniques later.
My husband went to put some peelings in the compost bin recently and found four little eyes staring out at him 🥰…
Of course they came to live with us. They’re adorabubble. However, they bring to life the meaning of Phoebe’s lyrical genius…
Don’t tell me that she’s not up there with Tolstoy for communicating the mysteries of redemptive suffering; not after I’ve lived with these babies.
They’ve just had their first vaccinations and the desire to get them out and about to do their business has become imperative. However, our back door is predominantly glass. Where to place a cat flap?
I’d bought one for our small dog to go in the will be kitchen, but living on a hill means that it’s very windy where we are. I’ve got an idea for how to counteract the wind howling through the flap, but it’s going to be a next year thing.
Furthermore, the fact that we won’t be using the room next to the kitchen until it’s decorated and a form of heating is put in next year, means that we will need to keep the doors into that area closed throughout winter. That hindrance won’t be conducive to encouraging the little kitty cats to use outside as their litter tray.
I’d already been thinking of ways to deal with the cold emanating from the glass door in the main part of the house. It made maintaining the heat in the hallway a challenge last year I can tell you. A draft excluder had gone some way to helping the situation, but it’s still a challenge.
I’d been talking to my husband about how to solve it and suggested having another internal door, perhaps a front door, just after the one into the living room. At the moment that passage way cuts under the stairs into the current small kitchen. The reconfiguration would mean that we could treat this newly sectioned off area as a mini boot room / porch way.
As we intend to use the current kitchen as a playroom when we transfer over this would have additional benefits. It would be a little area where coats, bags, shoes can be neatly put away as the children go in and out.
You’re laughing at my naivety aren’t you?
Neatly put away 😏.
The idea has been given a new lease of life with the cat situation. There may not be an opportunity for a cat flap in the current glass door, but surely I could have one in this more interior door and leave the glass one open during the day?
It’s a start to a solution anyway.
I’m still continuing with the will be kitchen where, surprise, surprise, I’m facing another, newly discovered challenge. Yet when that gets too much for me I’ve start work on this little area.
As you can see the wall had already be stripped. There had been brown, carpeted walls here. Mmmm…
There’s probably a logical reading for that to do with heat or something, but – as you can imagine – it created a very gloomy atmosphere. One day I got so fed up with it I started to wrench it from the walls. Even the bare walls was better, although I found a few nasty surprises underneath.
I loved the look of the tongue and groove I’d used in the kitchen and decided I’d do it again in this little section.
I bought just one pack of tongue and groove and cut in line with the door frame, gluing the pieces straight to the wall. When it got to the corner I didn’t cut a piece to fit, as I’d only bought the one pack and knew I’d only just cover the two walls I wanted to start with, so I finished it with some left over wood moulding and a 1/4 round.
There was a gap between the lengths I’d cut and the underneath of the doorway (I don’t know why I ended them there 😣) ans I used various off cuts of wood mouldings to fill this gap, but also to extend the section up so when I had a plinth running around the area it could smoothly continue around in the section above the door.
Here you can see I used a wood cornice topped off with a quarter round – extending under the door frame – a piece of beaded trim, the the plinth.
None of these are perfect fits, but I intend to paint it white to ensure that it’s bright, so I can just smooth acrylic into the gaps.
On the second wall I cut one length of tongue and groove to fit up to the door frame where I intended the plinth to take over.
Then I started to use the cut offs to continue right up until the final length when I used another full piece. I did this because I wanted to use this panel somewhere (it’s the odd door left from the buffet I broke down whilst working on the will be kitchen) and as I was short on tongue and groove doing it like this meant I just had enough.
I intended to have two horizontals of plinth as I wanted two rows of hooks to hang coats on. I intended making this plinth work for me though. The carved door is very well made and very heavy, so I une it in place. Then using lengths of wood I glued with the strongest glue I could find I built up the area so that in effect the panel could rest on it.
If you want to do something similar I think it’s important to note I didn’t let it rest on this wood yet, I allowed the glue to set for a couple of hours first. Then I continued to encase the cupboard door with the other parts of wood.
I topped this side with another plinth and a quarter round to both sides as there was a small gap on the door side. I let this adhere for an hour then I got to work caulking both sections.
This took a day, just fitting it around other things. it certainly isn’t a time intensive project so far. However, to be able to put a door in this section I needed to extended the side of the under stairs area. That proved a little more tricky.
Here it all is with the first coat of paint. I’ll update you on the second part soon.
I updated you on the changes to the layout of the kitchen last week, but as I was working on that I had started on this little side area.
On the adjacent wall area will be the range oven we would like. As a result this space is very narrow, only 40cms. Added to that the right hand, workable area underneath the counter is only 50cms. This is because the left hand side, just prior to the dividing panel, will buffer against the oven itself.
In the French countryside there aren’t gas lines, so we’ll have to rely on small, LPG gas bottles. When we were going to have the range oven underneath the chimney breast we had a pipe put under the floor that connected to the garage, which would store the bottle.
Visiting a friend we found they had theirs in a cupboard next to their oven. So this gap seems a great place to store ours and means we don’t have more, expensive work done.
The dividing section is hinged, and you can open it so you can easily slide out and replace the bottle.
The pole is from the stairs I took down in the corner of the kitchen, and it’s framed by the same wood appliqués that I used on the bookcase glow up.
As with the other areas I’ve created this wooden splash back. It’s going to be finished in maritime varnish just like the others to ensure its longevity.
I’ve checked the height and this is a workable space for out peddle bin and maybe the compost bin too.
We’re going to have additional plug sockets put on the back wall, so we can use it for the blender, slow cooker etc. The main point of the area is to give you elbow room when you’re cooking , but also have somewhere that you can place things should you need to.
The skirting board are done and I think it’s looking far more polished.
I’ve just finished varnishing the interior of the base cupboard that will be on the back wall, and I’m starting to paint it. When I have that in place I’ll have the height that I need for the butlers sink.
As the kitchen comes together ideas that I previously had thought would be wonderful I later found won’t quite work. I’m not a kitchen planner, which means that I don’t know the main issues such as needing to have the oven near a sink. Additionally I’m working with items that I gradually ‘find’ in brocantes, which inevitably means I must be adaptable.
This change isn’t as a result of that though. This change is because I didn’t plan the space needed for the dining area properly. Although I’d measured the space, when I moved furniture into the kitchen it was obvious I couldn’t fit in a larger table and, seemingly, had to settle for a small, round one.
So we would have a small breakfast nook?
We had wanted a convivial atmosphere and the current layout would mean guests and family split up in various groupings, if we kept the current configuration and wanted to eat in the kitchen.
Alternatively if guests came we’d have to move to the formal dining room. That’s fine for me, but my husband – who is the main cook – would be left on his own a good deal of the time when we had people over. This is particularly important for us as we are expats, so this doesn’t just mean for the occasional dinner, but throughout the time guests stay.
At first I was resigned to this, and I continued to make plans for the breakfast nook. I had wanted to put a small buffet to keep crockery in at the side. Unfortunately the irregular shape of the room meant this wasn’t possible either with the table.
Then I realised that the central island could be used as what it is – a buffet – with a dresser on top for extra storage. There could be a central, large table, which could still have electrical outlets in it. It would additionally mean that I could use the wall space for other purposes. A win all round.
Here is the table I managed to get from Le bon coin….
For the buffet/island/buffet I’ve removed the worktop from the kitchen island and I’ll use that on the opposite side where the sink area is. I’ve added a buffet worktop that I had from the cupboard that was too big to use initially in this room when the staircase remained in this corner. It needed to be cut down to size, but I think it looks good.
On the wall I hung this dresser worktop instead of resting it on the base. I want to be able to use this area for the microwave; as there is a plug socket along the back it’s ideal. The space between the buffet and base of the dresser top was too narrow for this with the original rests. So I sawed them off and I’d ordered wood brackets like those used for the bookcase turned wall cupboard, intending to give it a more country feel.
In the meantime though I found this shelving unit in the brocante for 9€. This has been put up and the hooks moved from above the kitchen sink to here, as this will be the coffee/tea area. As a res I didn’t use the brackets.
I’ve put a wood back to disguise the gap between the wall and the buffet base. I just cut it to size and curved, then sanded the edges before staining and sanding it.
Lots more to do if we want to be in by Christmas. I’m working on the corner that will run alongside the oven. It’s nearly finished so I’ll post on that soon.
The front of the house needs some tidying up after the summer- but I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of our Virginia creeper. We planted it about 2 – 3 years ago and it’s starting to really take off now.
I was worried that, with the work still needing doing in the kitchen before the plumbers come again, I wouldn’t have time to fix it before the leaves disappeared.
We’re so happy the floor is finally laid, but I thought that as there are so many tutorials on YouTube I would do a post on the difficulties and pitfalls you might experience. Why? Because throughout the laying process I kept grumbling “they didn’t tell you about this in those videos”.
One of the main reasons for my griping was that they all miss out it hurts. Some mention that your knees will hurt, that’s true, but I don’t just mean your knees. I mean everywhere. Your back, your legs, your bum. The lot. I started laying the floor on the Friday and winced any time I sat down all of the weekend. To put this further into perspective, I’d only finished 1/4 of the floor by then.
In all the videos they had a bare room, but we just weren’t able to do that. The kitchen island couldn’t be moved safely into another room and the damp autumnal weather meant I couldn’t store them outside whilst I worked.
As a result the fact that our heavy kitchen island was in the room dominated the whole project.
Added to that was the uneven walls of the room. There’s not a single straight line, because our house is built following the curve of a route. So the interior walls are all angled, or they have doors or built in cupboards. This all impacted on how we could proceed.
I had thought originally that I would lay the floor across the middle of the room from door to door. However the walls meant a safer course of action was to start running the lengths across the room in the other direction, however this meant the monstrosity of the kitchen island.
One more difficulty to overcome was that I’d moved all the laminate into the kitchen area to become acclimatised. It had been in the room adjacent, but needed to go in there and have all the boxes opened to let the air circulate. So, one more obstacle. Or, more precisely, lots more obstacles.
Because we didn’t have a straight run my dad, who was helping me, and I decided to go against all the recommendations and started to lay them in a staggered pattern. You can see how I left them on the first day…
We’d managed to fit one length under the island to the edge of the tiles I’d laid but the legs of the island meant we couldn’t fit any adjacent to that and moving the island at that point wasn’t an option due to the opened packets of laminate.
So we continued into the corner as much as possible, then as we laid more I had some space to move the laminates onto, creating more space.
At the end of the first day, apart from aching, I was worried we’d created a mess that we couldn’t rectify. If we kept laying boards the necessity to stagger them would mean a need to somehow slip boards in between what amounted to fork like prongs. Tricky.
Then I went in the next day and realised that I’d created sufficient space to start to swing one foot of the island onto the already laid floor and this created space to start lay boards in the space. It was a game changer.
After the weekend I started again; focusing on the corner that will house the dishwasher and sink. I’d tiled this area, thinking there might be future water leakages, and it therefore created an awkward area to work.
With the island moved I could fit in there to do the work and just concentrated on cutting to size here and then along the irregular wall and into the doorway.
Here we are at the end of the second day….
For the next two days I worked hard in there and eventually managed to finish most of the room. I was then left with those built in cupboards and needed to use a jigsaw to cut out the curved shapes. I didn’t have one. All ours were broken, but I couldn’t continue using the multitool I had been as I needed something easier to handle.
In the end my husband ordered me a Bosch cordless jigsaw. I cannot emphasis what a difference this made. I managed to fir the laminates pretty close to the cupboards (although they couldn’t be too close as there needs to be some give).
The room now looks like this….
I have to do the skirting boards and trim yet, but that’s a job for next week. So too are the two last boards at each doorway. I have temporary boards in there at the moment, but I need to remove the upvc door to do the one leading outside and the other will be replaced.
I’m intending to continue the laminate into the room next door which will eventually be the dining room, but there’s a wall to be removed first and that’s just too much before Christmas. So I’ll relay that final board, which needed to be cut in half to meet the existing floor, and continue straight from there.
I’ve been trying different furniture in there; the larger table I’d intended to have will never work, so I moved this round one in there. The chairs are going to be changed and I’ll update you on that soon.
This is a very proud mummy moment. My eldest daughter (9) has just finished her first upcycled piece 🎉🎈🧁🍰🥤🥂🍾 (the champagne is for me, obviously).
During this last week we’ve been preparing for la rentrée and I’ve also been spending some time focusing on the living room. My second Covid jab wiped me out, and I I just couldn’t face cementing the second half of the kitchen prior to laying it. As we have people coming over I decided to do a little more work in the sitting room; it wasn’t quite so taxing.
My daughter is always curious about my DIY and I’d said to her that, if she cleaned her room really well to prepare for going back to school, she could paint a buffet top I’ve been meaning to do. I had it because of the beautifully panelled doors which I want for another project, and I thought that as we need some bookcases I’d use it for this purpose.
Then in the afternoon I set her up for the buffet. It’s not a very solid piece, but does have some nice details. My thinking was even if it’s not eventually sturdy enough it will be a good for a first project for her and will make do for minimal money in the meantime.
She was so excited about it and got straight on with doing her room.
Her first task, if course, was to clean it all down. As it’s not the most refined piece of furniture I wasn’t going to go to town on it; it wouldn’t have been worth my while sanding all the wood back, for example. So I got her to just clean it thoroughly and talked to her about the stain marks to look out for when doing this on a piece of old furniture. It’s always good to be aware that we might be facing trouble ahead.
There seemed to be no stain transfer on to the kitchen towel during wiping down, so I got her to start straight away with a primer. Even though I use chalk paint most of the time I always use primer if I haven’t stripped the wood. I use one specifically for covering stained wood, as I’ve been caught out before.
You’ll notice on the finished piece that the interior is a darker grey; I bought Royal Grey from Action and used that on the interior with a coat of transparent, water based varnish. Then I mixed a small amount with Old White. It’s about a 2:1 ratio.
She painted it with just 1 coat of primer. Half way through she complained she was tired. I encouraged her to continue, saying she wouldn’t have the satisfaction of being able to say she did it by herself.
After some wailing and gnashing of teeth she finished and was happy with her efforts.
She finished her second coat in the chalk paint and I did the third for her whilst she was in school.
You’ll notice the top is new wood. As it was the top half of a buffet the top wasn’t made for putting anything heavy on, so I bought a new wood worktop and cut it to size. The stain is a bit orangey, I’m disappointed with that. I may apply another coat of stain on top.
I helped her sand it all back, then we added a coat of clear wax and copper to highlight the details before buffing them all. Both of these wax’s were by Libéron.
The buffet hasn’t been artfully arranged underneath – it’s definitely not Pinterest ready. It’s purpose is for after school each day. We don’t allow the kids to watch tv during the week and encourage them to read. I believe that if there are always books nearby they become a part of our lives. Some of my happiest moments when I was young was curling up and getting lost in a book!