The kitchen is coming on; I’ve spent the last week tiling and grouting what will be the dishwasher and sink area before laying a laminate floor and I’ve started putting together a housing cupboard for the former. Added to this is some further tongue and groove and some work on a leaky upvc door.
Whilst working on the cupboard like structure to house the dishwasher I primarily wanted to use this sideboard to do it…..
This was the cupboard that came with us from our rental when we moved to France (it’s the one on the bottom). In the above image it’s painted yellow, which was my original colour scheme. I’d bought it in a brocante for less than €30; the price was so low because it was huge and therefore unsuitable for a good many homes. Originally it was used to hold our tv, but wasn’t suitable for the location in our new home. So I thought I’d use it as a kitchen island, then I was going to put a sink in it; but the necessity to change the location of the range oven to the back wall meant that it wasn’t feasible to keep it in its entirety.
As I’d already bought an additional cupboard to use as an island, I gradually stripped it of useful parts, and now the remainder is being use for the dishwasher. The main parts I wanted to use are the side struts with the carved details on them. However it was still being bookmarked for the island when we had the electric work done, and so it was going to be set with plugs sockets. As a result both sides had an oval shape removed from the wood to insert electrical points and they needed to be disguised.
In addition to the holes on the side of the cupboard it didn’t have sufficient depth for the dishwasher. Having tried different things I eventually came up with using the central door panel and facade of the drawer to give extra detail to the cupboard side and cover the hole. Here’s what this looked like in its preparation stage, with the panels glued on. I’d had to weigh it down by….well, everything.
It was fine to use the alternative side to extend the piece as I only needed the front, detailed corner panel as I planned to fit that directly against the wall.
The ‘cupboard’ also needed additional height. I found these lovely blocks of wood leftover from replacing beams in one of the garages to stand the cupboard on. As they weren’t quite long enough for the left hand side, nor wide enough to cover the front, decorated part of the cupboard, I had to adapt them. Here’s what they looked like after a first coat of varnish….
With only one coat of varnish the addition is obvious. However I’ve now added more and you can barely notice it, particularly with the panel details distracting the eye. But you’ll see that when I post the end result.
The additional wood has been attached straight away to the cupboard post end, which is to be attached to the wall; but I was yet to attach the other side.
I painted the main part in chalk paint. I always use chalk paint for salvaged furniture as if there’s any type of irregularities, like the seam where the two pieces of wood are added together, I can add a thicker layer of paint, then sand it back to a smooth finish. You couldn’t do this with latex paint.
In the image below is the strut that I’ve placed on the wall which will have the left side panel attached to it. I added strong glue to the side that will be attached to the wall, put the cupboard side in place and then held the strut firmly against it so it was in the right place. Then I marked where the strut was prior to removing the cupboard side carefully. The mark enabled me to ensure that it had kept the position.
Here’s the housing cupboard attached to the struts…
Here’s the exterior of the cupboard…..
….and here it is with the worktop attached and dish rack above. I’m going to do a post about the worktop next as there’s been a knock in effect with the added cupboard depth which needs resolving. But here it is in it’s current form…
I think that seam from the additional piece of wood is hardly noticeable now. Obviously all the T&G isn’t painted; I work on an area and then move on. This is because if I can’t adapt a piece I may end up reviewing how to get what I want, and this can have an effect for additional work. So, as they say in France, petit par petit l’oiseau fait son nid!
As I approached the third part of the hearth I was a little apprehensive. I was still mulling over the floor tiles that I wanted to trim the fireplace with. They were a little large and, not only did that mean they took up a lot of space, but I thought they overpowered the area.
I came to the conclusion that the pattern of the tiles would cope with being cut in half and still look good. However that left me with the task of cutting them.
In spite of now regularly using a circular saw I was hesitant to use the electric tile cutter my father had lent me. I did find a manual one in the garage though and thought I’d try this first as there was less likelihood of cutting off a digit with this method.
I scored the tile and asked my husband to help me try the first one, but it snapped horizontally and not along the line I wanted it to. It was going to have to be the dreaded electric one.
Once they were cut I laid them in a pattern around the stones again to make sure that they looked good. I tried to make sure any jagged edge would face out into the wood surround that I planned to use.
The latter was from a salvaged piece of wood from the staircase; it had a lovely patina on it and I didn’t want to waste such a good piece of wood. I spent an entire morning cutting into it with the circular saw. It’s hard work, so I was disappointed when I realised that the parts that had been cut away to accommodate the steps of the staircase couldn’t be disguised. I work with so many salvaged pieces of wood and I’ve been successful, but the fact is that it always takes more effort and sometimes that effort doesn’t pay off. C’est la vie! I had to start the tiling process then I could make the decision of how to finish the edge of the hearth place when I had a clearer idea of what it would look like,
I’d bought three more bags of the cement made for fireplaces. After laying out the tiles with the uncut sides facing outward, and using this metre spirit rule to straighten the edge, I started the process on the tile which was to be next to the stone that protruded the most. This tile would be the furthest out and all the others would have to align with it after all.
Above you can see the first two tiles that I fixed to the fireplace and below you can see how I applied the cement against the walls of the original stones.
Having removed the tile I wanted to place, I sprayed the area with water and then spread some of the concrete mixture to cover the area needed (having the other tiles remaining in place helped me to not go too far) and then I added more mixture creating a slope that covered the front line of the stone. Having sprayed the back of the tile with water I laid the tile in place.
After I placed the second tile I pushed some concrete between the two, sprayed with water and used my finger to smooth out the area between the two tiles. Then I took a rag and wiped away any excess concrete and liquid.
I finished all along the first row, then did the sides. As much as possible I smoothed out the cement between the exterior tile and the floor.
At the moment the cement is black, but it dries to a dark grey…
I’ve decided to leave the hearth as it is in terms of the doing for the moment though. When I lay the wood flooring I can add a wood detail like this between the laminate and tile….
The next thing to do is fix an iron fireback, a fire basket and the fire guard.
The first thing I did for our stone hearth is ensure I had the Right cement, that is one made specifically for the heat of the fire. In France this is called mortier réfractaire.
Mine was ready to use after adding water.
As we were re-using stone from the old, raised fireplace I laid these out in the hearth area. It’s important to note the biggest stone, in terms of depth, in a project like this. This will have the least amount of cement underneath it and others will need additional cement to level them off. Obviously if your hearth material is of equal depth then this isn’t something you need to consider.
After noting the biggest stone I then put a little piece of masking tape on it and then numbered it 1, then continued doing the same thing with other stones going along the back row to the front sequentially.
When I’d finished I had another good look and realised that where on of the stones would be placed was raised slightly making this the highest stone. I then changed the notes around prior to writing on the stones themselves with marker when I was satisfied it was right.
I took a picture prior to removing the stones so I had a reference point for how they were arranged – which direction they faced, areas I needed to be careful of etc.
Then I moved the stones to the side and swept the area.
Laying the first one was a case of putting some down with a trowel and then wetting the back of the first stone before placing it. I used a spray bottle to reduce mess, but really doused the stone in water.
The second stone was a bit harder and, despite using a lot of cement, I couldn’t seem to get the two stones even. I’m a little frustrated by that, but the bigger stones are to the exterior so shouldn’t cause too much of a problem. I finished the row at the back and had to stop – I’d bought two 5kg bags of cement and they only covered two large stones per bag. I ordered 4 more bags for the next two rows through Amazon prime as we’re in lockdown and the larger Brico stores are outside our zone. I have to say though, the original bags were significantly less expensive at Bricocash.
When the original hearth was removed it resulted in a difference in floor level, so I ended up having to level this out with the cement prior to laying the next stone in some places….
and in other places I used the cement unevenly when I had stones that weren’t flat underneath and seemed to narrow to half the depth in some places…
As I worked I took extra cement and worked it into the sides and corners of the tiles, smoothing it out as best as possible….
So this section of the hearth is finished. I’m planning on creating a border with patterned tiles and wood next. The four more bags of cement I ordered via Amazon finished this section, so I’m awaiting some more to complete that task. Role on Friday!
I had been hesitant to remove the wooden staircase in the room that will be the kitchen. I really liked the pantina of the worn wood. However it was rickety, therefore tricky to walk down and was taking up valuable space. So, the decision was made and down it came.
I really liked the wood though, so I’ve been thinking about using it elsewhere. One place that I could see it working was the windowsill; it would give it a perfect, rustic finish.
The first thing I did was select a piece that seemed to be termite free (you always have to be cautious about that when repurposing wood) and whose length was sufficient for the width of the windowsill. I couldn’t find one that had the width and the depth. So I managed to find two pieces I could put together.
As you can see in the image below the cut of the step doesn’t insert itself in the casement, so the first thing was to cut it so I could do that.
To do this I made a pattern by inserting some brown paper in the window sill and marking out the angles.
When I’d cut it out I marked the way it needed to face, placed it one the wood and marked where I needed to cut with the circular saw.
It was a little short, but I’m not concerned. I wanted to T&G inside the window casement and knew this would fill the gap.
However the there was some large gaps between this edge and the back, hence my needing a second piece. So I marked the edge of the cut wood, cut that out and drew that on the second piece of wood.
These are both pieces of wood. They’re not going together well as there are some nails underneath so they don’t lie flat. Now it’s time to clean the wood and shelf, sort out the nails and fix it in place.
I marked out where the irregular shape of the back piece of wood, then smeared transparent, strong adhesive along the back of the wall and within the marked area. Then I did the same to the front area…
Here you can see the two pieces of wood cleaned and in situ. The shiny edge is the transparent glue. There was a slight difference in size, so after taking this photo I slipped a narrow piece of wood underneath of one end to raise it, then I weighted the ends to make it as close together with the back piece of wood as possible and allowed it to settle over night.
You can see in the picture above that there’s a gap between the window area and the double glazed window. My intention was to tongue and groove that area too, but this became imperative due to a mistake I’d made with the shelf. I cut out what I thought would end up being a curved end with would go beyond the edge of the frame. However, when I added the tongue and groove on the side the wood wasn’t wide enough. So when I set it within the casing there’s now a chunk missing. There’s also a chunk missing on the other side too, but that is as a result of the previous cut for the step. So now I knew that I not only needed to T&G the interior, but possibly add something like a quarter round to the base. Luckily the difference between the encasement and upvc window itself means that we’ll still be able to open the window easily even with all these extras. Phew!
In the meantime I concentrated on T&G in the interior of the window. I removed the old wallpaper first then I interlocked two pieces of the T&G, sufficient for the window depth, and put them to one side. As the area is cement and stone, not wood, I couldn’t nail straight into the wall and I didn’t want to use batons here due to not wanting to obstruct the light. So I decided to use builders glue straight onto the wall. I put horizontal strips of it at 10cm interval down the length of the wall and then it the interlocked T&G piece into the recess, pressing firmly against it. The lengths fell just short in length of the area I wanted to cover, so I made sure that they were held higher up by placing some lengths of wood below them.
I followed the same method on the other side of the widow and added a 1/4 round to fill the gap between the UPVC and the T&G.
Under the sill I added the same trim that I used to run along the top of the tongue and groove.
I’ll add a further post on the window shutters, but having prepared the sides for the hinges and adding a right angle shaped piece of wood to the corner of the window frame I added T&G to the top.
As the top of the frame gets progressively narrower, and knowing I needed two lengths of T&G like the sides, I took three measurements. * the length nearest the window (105cms) * the length of the top running from between the left hand joined T&G and right (111 cms) * the length on the outskirts of the top of the frame (118cms).
Then I measured and cut for the first length. I took a piece of tongue and groove and measured 111cms along and marked that on one edge of the board. Then at the top of the same piece of board I measured 105cms along, after a staggered start, and marked that. By a staggered start I mean I started 3 cms along from the edge (111 – 105 = 6, 6 divided by 2 = 3). I then drew a diagonal line from the longer edge to the shorter at each side and cut along.
After checking this would indeed fit the space I covered the back in glue, slid it in place and pressed it to the top of the window frame. I followed the same procedure with the next piece of wood with 118 and 111 respectively.
To fill any gaps I added another 1/4 round and glued it in position
To fill the gap between the sill and the sides I took another length of rustic wood and cut that to fit. You can see how I’ve slightly curved the end by sanding it, I’ve also sanded the entire piece to remove the rough edges. There’s a horizontal quarter round next to the window; I’d shaped the top and glued into place.
You can see my “shutter” in the image above.
After I’ve done the other side I did some work at the top of the window. Firstly I used a large 1/4 round to plug the gap between the PVC window and the window frame. With the tongue and groove and sides filled with smaller 1/4 rounds it emphasised the gap.
I had this pelmet top from a now defunct dresser and wanted to include it as part of the window. I added a large 1/4 round to rest it on and then glued the pelmet to the wall above the frame. After that it was a case of filling gaps with acrylic and where appropriate wood (behind the L shaped overhang).
I painted the T&G first, as this way I could go close to the edge and clear up any spills easily. Having painted it all I added a very narrow 1/2 round to fill the gap between the rustic wood side and the tongue and groove. Then I sanded the mane sill.
Next I used some tinted wood filler in the gap between the two pieces of wood and let it dry. When I varnished it with this medium pine varnish. I don’t think the gap is very noticeable at all.
I cleaned all the window itself with a upvc cleaner and then added this pale gold handle, and added these white handles to the shutters. I’ll do a post soon on dressing the window.
In the meantime I’m waiting for the cement to arrive for the hearth, covering the ceiling where the staircase was with white plaster of Paris, and filling the gap in the floor with cement. A lot to do – and every job seems to take an age! Then, after I’ve done these messy jobs, I’ll be repainting the T&G for a final coat.
I’ve done one post on the breakfast nook, but I’ve been thinking about how we’ll use the space with the fire. It needs to be practical, to eat dinner, but I also want it to have comfy chairs. One of the main challenges in combining the two are my two daughters. How do I have comfy chairs that can be washed? Slipcovers? Removable covers? These are the solutions I’ve come up with that may work.
The first thing I did was to search for dining rooms with a fire on Pinterest to give me some idea of how others have arranged theirs. These dining rooms are cosy and welcoming, but comfortable? I’m not so sure. If you sat for some time in these chairs would you not be a bit stiff? I want our dining area to be one where you can slip into a comfy seat and spend some time, not just eating, but socialising.
The next thing I came up with was a banquet. You can certainly slip in and out easily, so good for the kids, and they can be comfy. You can also use removable, washable covers. All good for an area to dine in. However when I imagine sitting somewhere for any length of time I think of leaning against the arm of something. I want comfy cosy as well as practical.
Mine is a French country home, so I want it to be in sympathy with the kitchen and the home itself. These are comfy chairs, with arms, and removable covers on the cushions. I wouldn’t necessarily have them in white though.
I already have this cane sofa that would combine these styles.
I have some Berger chairs, so naturally I started to think how these could be adapted.
A solution would be to have some standard chairs that the girls can sit on to eat, with removable slip covers, along with more comfortable banquettes when it’s time to do homework in front of the fire.
I found these……I love them! Elegant kitchen ✅ Tongue and groove ✅ French chairs ✅
I love the combination of pink buffalo check and charcoal grey. As I said in my previous post my kitchen will be will have an emphasis on faded elegance, rather than just the elegance of this kitchen.
It will be ages until I’m at the stage of the breakfast nook…..there’s the flooring to do, a doorway to open before the flooring, the hearth to set, the sink to fit……oh my gosh. So much! But I can dream, can’t I?
Experienced DIYers, let alone professionals, would probably wince throughout this post. So, be warned! (Queue eerie music).
The main reason why I’m sharing this, in spite of my embarrassment at my substandard efforts, is that I’ve been dealing with ancient walls. The plaster was missing in some areas and, even when there was plaster there, it was completely uneven.
This is my very haphazard approach to solving these problems. I don’t know whether it will be any help at all; but if you’re dealing with these issues please read on (obviously I’m not an expert, take this advice at your own risk).
I’d started to put batons of wood across the area where I’d remove the staircase and plain stone had been exposed. My father had spoken to me about the need to ensure that there was no give between the slats as it is going to be a seating area. As, inevitably, chairs would quickly be moved back and banged against the walls and could result in unsupported areas creating a hollow for the boards to bend into and break. So I intended to add as many horizontal lengths of strips as I could to overcome this problem.
Deciding the height
I didn’t want to cut any of the lengths of T&G if I could, so I took into account the protruding step of the cupboard on the left hand of the chimney breast when I planned how to use the wood. I placed a tongue and groove length on the step and drew a horizontal line where the top baton would be glue against the wall based on this height. When I continued the work after the step I used a thick piece of wood, the width of the step, to rest the tongue and groove on. Then on the other side I knew to rest the T&G boards in the same way to know where the top horizontal baton needed to be.
The right hand side with brick exposed
Due to a good deal of the wall having exposed brick there was a big difference between the cemented half and the brick levels. I worked out that I could add some horizontal lengths so they rested on the already existed ones glued to the cement once the glue had dried. This staggered approach worked to an extent, but I needed to fill behind the length with plaster/acrylic when it was firmly glued in place.
I knew I’d have to think about a solution for the gaps further up the walls, as the staircase meant a diagonal line of more and more exposed brick. I thought I’d start on the other side of the fireplace whilst I thought this through.
The left hand ‘easy’ side
At first glance the left hand side of the chimney breast went like a dream. I glued on three batons; at the top, in the middle and at the bottom. After all there would be no banging furniture this side, so no extra strips were needed (you can guess what’s coming can’t you).
With the horizontal pieces glued in place and set I started to apply the tongue and groove in vertical lengths. The first one I glued on and then banged in some nails for good measure. But then I decided to avoid the messy glue and just nailed the next piece in place.
Each time I added a piece I slipped it in place and then rested the spirit level on its edge to make sure it was straight. Then I would nail in the middle section, the top and then the bottom. As I said earlier I had started in the corner next to the cupboard which has a step protruding from it as it’s going to house the fridge. As I reached the little knob I’d put on this step it was clear that the thickness of the baton and the T&G all but made the detail disappear. However I just cut a hole and used acrylic filler to disguise the difference.
Without the step in my way I used the thick piece of wood to rest the T&G plank whilst I slipped into its predecessor and made sure it was level with the top of the other planks. I again made sure it was vertical before nailing it in place. I cut a hole for the plug socket. I’ll go into more detail with that in a later post – primarily because I can’t finish the plug socket areas until I’ve added the skirting boards. I can’t add the skirting board until I’ve done the floor, so….it’s all a little way off.
As I got to the side of the stone chimney breast it’s unevenness made it difficult to fit the plank in tight. So I cut it vertically down so that it was sufficiently tight, then I used acrylic to make the difference between it and the wall. It doesn’t look great with the close up photo, but I really like the way it forms to the wall in real life.
On the other side where the tongue and groove didn’t quite fit the cupboard I added a quarter round, gluing it in place. I was really excited about how easy it was and painted it in chalk paint straight away. Two coats and I was happy, thinking I’d seal it with a coat of water proof varnish later. However the picture below is after a week or so later and you can see cracks appear in the paint as the boards have moved and settled in place. So I’ll be bearing that in mind as I continue the finish.
Noticing the 1st problem
As I returned to the other half of the chimney breast I noticed the back of one of the labels of the tongue and groove board packets. On it it showed the method of application; horizontal strips with 40 cms between. So what I was doing for the second half was on track, but the side I’d just completed didn’t have so many batons!!!
I banged it and there was a hollow sound and I could feel it give slightly. I don’t think it’s a complete disaster as this will only have a fridge near it, there’s no reason for anyone to lean against it or things like that. But I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
Back to the right hand side
Returning to the right side I plastered above the top, horizontal baton, trying to smooth the gap between the current plaster and bare stone.
As I said previously on the lower half of the wall, where the exposed stone was about half way, I had glued lengths of wood so there was a staggered overlap. This positioned them, but the half of the batons over the exposed stone didn’t touch anything. When the glue had dried on the other half of the batons I had applied thick acrylic behind each baton and let that dry thoroughly over the weekend.
How was I going to add batons further up? I tried everything. Drilling into cement seams to hold them in place, but this resulted in uneven and twisted batons against the stones. I added narrower batons to the ones I was using to make them sufficiently thick and then tried to glue them to the wall; but it’s uneven texture meant that this didn’t work either. In the end I marked on the wall where the baton needed to go, then kept adding plaster to the wall in strips so that it was level along the length with the cemented portion. Then when the plaster was dry I glued batons in place.
I didn’t touch it for the weekend as I wanted to make sure everything was set. Then I applied tongue and groove in exactly the same manner as before – and it worked!!!
The only problem was that the upper baton came off, probably due to the unevenness of that particular plaster strip, but I managed to apply another baton, albeit a little above where I wanted it to be. More on that later.
The adjacent wall
Now things are going to get even trickier! You can see below where I’ve finished the first set of T&G and the batons poking out from the T&G in the corner. They cover about 2/3s of the wall, so that should protect the planks from jolting and banging. I started to work on the adjacent wall, putting the top baton so that it was in line with its counterpart.
In all honesty I only use the spirit level on the top one as it’s not as necessary for the rest, they’re just there to add strength.
You’ll see I have one vertical baton against the edge of the inset window. This is glued onto the wooden side – more on this later. You can see though that I’ve put numerous lengths all the way down. However under the window sill you can see a big hole in the wall. I’m only intending to pad this out with insulation wadding – it’s one of the reasons I chose to T&G this corner. However there is a massive difference between the wall where the stair was and under the window sill.
I used a similar solution to the adjacent wall. Narrower batons were used under the windowsill where the wall was solid. Then, to create a bridge over the gap I added horizontal lengths to ones I’d already glued in place. You can see that it results in the second half standing proud of the wall.
Tongue and Groove on the Adjacent Wall
I then started to tongue and groove the corner area whilst the glue dried on the new batons. If you see below I cut a narrow length of T&G and put it in the corner, but it didn’t quite fit. I added to that later.
I stopped here to add a shelf, made from wood salvaged from the removed staircase, and encase the window area. But I’ll do another post on that.
When I continued I’d added one more length before the window and then I started T&G the most difficult area – under the window with the loose batons.
Under the Window
I cut the first length to go under the rustic window sill, cutting off the overhang that’s there to slot a top and bottom piece together to make it a snugger fit. The final length before the window had fractionally covered the loose area and I’d successfully installed that. This next piece was trickier.
I nailed into the upper two batons, but when it came to the lower part there was no resistance in order to nail into it of course. The length of the T&G started to split towards the bottom as I tried to do it anyway! My solution was to add some builders glue to the back of the T&G, making sure I got none in the crease where the next piece needed to slide into, and use two clamps to hold it against the baton and to stop it splitting further. I had to practise patience and leave it there overnight to dry.
Finishing under the window
Having secured boards to the area that covered the hollowed, insulation packed area successfully I needed to continue the T&G along the row. As the lowest baton didn’t run in line against the wall, due to the uneven nature of the wall itself, I started by putting strong glue behind this bottom baton. Then I positioned a new piece of T&G and nailed it down its length on the secured batons. I continued all along until I nearly reached the radiator. Then I pushed something heavy against the lower section, to force the bottom half as close to the wall as possible, and allowed the glue to connect the remaining baton to the wall.
The next day I nailed the ends of these T&G pieces to the secured baton.
You can see in the image below that I’d taken a final length of T&G and cut a section out of it to end this section.
Preparing for L shaped wood
I intend to use a shutter window treatment and know that I need to have substantial L shaped wood corners, but they can’t be fitted straight away as I’m going to use them to mark out where my hinges will be screwed.
As there will be a heavy weight on these pieces of wood I need to make sure I have substantial support behind the area they’ll go around. So I glued and nailed extra pieces of wood into the gaps. It ended up looking like this…
…but if I hadn’t been going to use something this heavy I’d have just gone ahead with the L shaped corners.
I’ll be adding another post on the shutters and attaching the L shaped wood later.
I had bought a trim of 4 cms width as I wanted to give myself a bit of leeway with the uneven T&G of the right wall. I basically cut to size, glued the area, then put it in place holding it until it was fully secure with clamps.
You’ll see that I added another length of wood to the left side so that the trim had something to be secured too.
You’ll also see that I cut out a little section of the wood to fit around that uneven end. I’m intending to fill it with acrylic later.
Here’s the right hand chimney breast with the trim and also the 1/4 round I applied to smooth the transition between the two walls.
It’s clear I’ve just used strong glue to add that. Super simple!
Here’s the next side with its trim, also waiting for acrylic.
There’s still the ceiling to finish off, smoothing put gaps with acrylic and painting, but I just want to focus this post on applying the T&G to these uneven walls. Those further updates and one with the painted T&G will be posted soon.
The kitchen layout has evolved since we first talked about what we wanted. We were originally going to have a range cooker in the chimney breast and had a gas pipe, which was to be connected to a gas bottle in the garage (no mains line gas), installed along with an electrical outlet with enough power for a cooker.
Then I had a horrible realisation. The sink was on the other side of the room, so if we were to cook pasta, for example, we’d have to walk across a wide kitchen to drain it of boiling water. That was never going to be practical with two young girls in the house.
We considered adding a second prep sink next to the range with a worktop. However that would mean introducing a water outlet which would have a knock on effect of moving the electrical outlet, already situated in the base board, due to the danger of a potential leaky/burst pipe near the electrical point. Added to that the outlet for the wifi is situated in the same place. As our internet has been tricky due to the house’s thick walls we had previously queried moving this; it would be expensive and messy.
Then one evening we were at a friends house and they were cooking on their open fire as we sat in the kitchen. My husband looked at me forlornly; “we definitely can’t use our fire can we?” You see the fireplace in our sitting room was added by the previous owner, and it includes a much, too small flue. As a result we were warned it would be dangerous when we subsequently had it cleaned. All the other chimney breasts in the house are blocked up and this was the only open, functioning one. We had asked the previous owner if it worked and we had been told it did. So the only functioning fireplace we were going to use to house a stove…..
which would prove tricky as the stone mantle was very low and we would have to build at the back of it to bring it sufficiently forward to reach the back hobs successfully……
and now we’d have to do lots of additional work to make it work too.
I realised that if I moved the oven to the back wall we would lose some of the electrical work we’d had done, but wouldn’t have to pay out for additional work and we could put a breakfast nook in the corner of the room, next to the working open fire. My husband was reluctantly persuaded, tempted by the thought of a roaring fire to stop his anguish of wasted work and money.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not keen on the fireplace. More to the point I’m not keen on the ugly, lower half of the fireplace. So I intended to do something with it. I thought to keep the stone on top, but add a shelf for display on the ugly lower half. Then I’d paint it white to give it a cleaner look.
I’d been thinking over how to bring this about, the main stumbling block would be the solid stone which would prove difficult to get a drill though, when I realised that there was a seam of cement that could be drilled into which would make my work easier. I had been poring over designs for how to put together a mantle piece when I saw this at my local brocante..
It’s really sturdy and I could never reproduce the lovely scalloped edges. I’d intended to get some form of wood carved appliqué, but any this size would be expensive. So in comparison to individually buying the wood, brackets and appliqué its purchase at 35€ was a no brainer.
To fix it to the wall I decided to use these z bars which are meant to be able to hold 20kg each – I got 4 just to be on the safe side. The benefits of these is that they interlock, so you screw in one side to the wall and then the other side into you shelf/cupboard/mirror top and then slide it into the bar on the wall. You can make sure the bar is horizontal with the supplied spirit level and there should be no mistakes. Mmmm, let’s see.
I realised my first problem was going to be the uneven nature of the wall. Although there was a horizontal seam of cement, the stone work jutted out haphazardly so that the lip that the second piece was meant to slip into was obscure. I had to find a way to make it stand proud of the wall.
My solution was a length of wood, narrow in depth, that would allow the bar to be sufficiently away from the wall.
I marked off the middle of the chimney breast with a marker pen. Then I cut the piece of wood to the length of the top of the shelf. I then marked the middle of the piece of wood too.
Laying the piece of wood on the worktop I placed the receiving bars along the length. Ensuring the bars were directly aligned with the wood edge I marked were the holes should be for the screws. Then I placed this length of wood so that it’s edge was aligned with the edge of the top of the shelf. You must remember that whatever side of the wood faces you is the side that has to go against the wall. I marked mine so I knew which side was which. Holding the wood in place I drilled into the wood were the marks were, so I drilled the additional wood and the shelf at the same time. This way I knew the holes would align, and therefore the z bars would. As the inserting z bar was going to be at the upper edge of the shelf I knew the shelf itself would sit fractionally above the cement seam.
Then it came the time to mark and drill holes in the cement.
As it was difficult to get the marker tip through the drilled holes I laid the wood against the seam, making sure it was level, then I marked where the holes would be with lines drawn away from the wood. Then I marked the wall along the length of the wood, focusing on the z bar areas, with the marker point as close as I could get to the wood edge. Then I got the z bars and put them along the drawn edge, aligning with where the screw were meant to be. I then scratched into the holes of the z bars with a screw, removing and marking the scratch with the marker pen each time so I didn’t lose sight of where each hole was meant to go. Now it was time to drill.
I obviously used a stone drill, but even so these are difficult to drill into hard cement. So, making sure the drill was set to hammer, I used the narrowest, stone drill bit I had to start out. It didn’t go in very deep, but I drilled all the holes along. Then I went up with the successive drill sizes until I’d made the holes sufficiently big enough to fit the raw plugs inside the holes.
Starting at the middle I attached the z bars to the wood with the screws then, following my earlier direction note, I screwed the screws in the wall just a little bit all the way along. Then I put extra strong builders glue all the way along the back of the wood. After that I screwed the nails in all the way.
I took the leftover piece of the length of wood and glued that in the middle of the mantle as between the z bars and the wood length there would be a slight tilt in the shelf otherwise.
I left the glue to set overnight.
The next day I checked that I could slide the shelf z bar into the one on the wall. When I was convinced all was well I slipped some raw plugs under the edge to make it stand proud of the breast, levelling it with the z bars. Then I took the builders glue and piped it under the edge of the shelf, smoothing the excess around the edge of the shelf like it was acrylic, sealing it all.
To disguise the difference between the mantle edge, the shelf and exposed stone I’m going to add some trim. I’m not painting it yet as I’ve more work to do; I’ll update you with that soon.
Last time I posted about the armoire door that I adapted to work as a sliding door on this bookcase. Just a quick reminder of what this looked like orginally…..
Both bookcases looked like this. Notice how the bottom has been finished with a laminate trim. So I’ve finished adding details and, although I’ve yet to finish painting them with chalk paint sanding and finishing them you can get an idea of what they look like with these images…
It’s all a bit dusty and messy in there and, as you can see, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Nevertheless it’s starting to take shape; here are some more images where you can see the kitchen island….
The changes have been made using predominantly recycled pieces of wood from furniture I’ve bought at brocantes and have been broken down for one reason or another. This is partly why it’s taken so long to get to this point. I’ve had to be adaptable and at times I’ve had to go away, leave the project and allow my mind to tick over as to how I can use what I’ve got. As a result there’s been some unusual items thrown into the mix.
I can’t give you a how to – what’s the point, it’s all based on my rag bag of things, but I can give you an idea of what and how I adapted things to turn from one to the other.
The first thing I’ll draw your attention to is the base of the bigger unit. In my post on the sliding door I said how I needed a lip to keep the door in line so it didn’t slip and cause it to be pulled from its top, potentially wrecking the entire cabinet. I made this lip from the base of an armoire that had the majority of its parts used elsewhere, and the wheels of the coasters run on two armoire struts which made up the door frame.
I needed the latter as I wanted the pole for the curtain pole for the door to be as in line with the upper shelves on the unit as possible, so running along the struts gave it height. You can see the lip here…
This isn’t just the armoire base and struts though, it’s a real Frankenstein monster underneath the chalk paint. I wanted the armoire base because of the curved corner, but I needed more height as a result of the struts so I added the edge of a buffet that’s too big for the area. It still looked unfinished so I glued to 28mm 1/4 rounds together and added them on the top. I’m not going to lie to you I used a lot of acrylic to fill gaps – I think the entire project is about 10% acrylic.
You can see where I added finials to give the cupboard a finishing touch. Well, they don’t only serve that purpose. the mish mash of wood bits didn’t look good on the corners, so they were added to disguise the not so smooth transitions.
When this bookcases was done and before I’d painted it it literally looked like…
Here are a series of photos to show you my using various quarter rounds to give a more finished end; you can see how it changes from horror show to more presentable with acrylic…
When I’ve painted it and sanded it smooth it you’d never know it was such a freak show. Here’s the other end which is on its way to looking presentable – I’ve built this up with my favourite 1/4 rounds of various sizes, one of the beads from my daughters play set (yep, you read that right) and I’m smoothing it and adding form with acrylic. Here it is as I’m building up layers of acrylic – I’m going to add another after this has set to give it more definition. I’ll update you when I’ve finished the painting..
I said in my 1st post that the rail for the door to run on was a real trial and error process. Well in order to fit the rounded end curtain rail I needed an extra piece of wood…
As you can see I’ve added this detailed panel; it was the central panel of one of the now defunct armoires, as I couldn’t place it centrally I used these rose hooks to counteract it being off centre. I already had the hooks. The light switch is going to be replaced for a dolly light switch.
I’ve already written about how the tops of both cabinets are put together from salvaged furniture, however the corner brackets are found on ebay. In my last post I showed you this image…
Due to the curtain pole’s fit I needed this piece of wood to screw it to and these brackets to disguise the ugly. You’ll notice that the slight arch in the original bookcase mean that the brackets don’t fit all the way along so, as there was the metal curtain pole, I added these small, iron knobs.
Because the bookcases are large I’d had the choice of removing them or struggling to find a place to put our fridge as a result of wanting a dining corner and wanting to keep the fireplace. So in the end I decided to have the fridge inside the bookcase itself. So I needed a step for it to rest on. Along came my second armoire base to form this…
This is made up of the armoire base and the original top of the buffet come kitchen island. I’ve added the same finials….
Again it’s looking a bit scrappy, but you’re able to see how it will be when it’s finished.
The armoire which had the detailed side panel used on the large bookcase had an additional top bar along with the side casings which is used on the sliding door. I cut this and put it on the bottom of the smaller bookcase and added it to the other side of the bottom of the armoire on the step. As it was the right hand of the armoire base and I needed it for the left hand corner of the cupboard I put it upside down, then I added some left over edging from the buffet.
You can see that this is again a mish mash of various salvaged pieces. Added to that I’ve put together an end section for little spice jars and bottles. I’m not going to go through it step by step, unless you want me to, but here are some images of the various stages…
It’s looking all higgeldy piggeldy, then it gets smoothed over with acrylic and the first coat of paint goes on…
Again, it’s not finished and this is chalk paint so it looks uneven, but I’m rather pleased with how it looks. More out of the ordinary things are used; some smaller curtain finials, the 1/4 rounds, and some little wooden craft dollies of all things!
My husband is the main cook – he’s very excited about his spice rack!
So this is where we are so far. We have the wall and the floor to do next, as well as finishing the ceiling. If you want me to go through how to make the spice rack let me know. In the meantime stay well!
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.
As I was taking out the staircase in the will be kitchen I noticed some stone peeking through the broken plaster. It would make sense that there is a stone wall there – after all the house we live in was at least two, if not three or four in a row. There are thick stone walls throughout, so this would seem to be the case on this particular wall too.
Today I decided to look a little further. Chipping away at the plaster this is what I uncovered.
It set me thinking. My original plan was to have tongue and groove going around the room and acting as a backsplash. But, when times are tight due to Covid, a little hard work could uncover a wall which I wouldn’t need to tile, tongue and groove or any other form of backsplash. I may not do it throughout, but what would it look like on this wall?
To give me some ideas I did a pinterest search. Here’s what I came up with….let me know what you think.