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 went to the brocante over the weekend and bought this Henry II buffet. These normally go for anywhere between 30-100€. I bought this for 2€; I spotted it a while ago, but it was only 25€ then. It’s obviously something they just wanted rid of now.
Although I had to pay 30€ for delivery it worked out the same amount that I was about to spend on wood to finish off the ‘vestibule’ under the stairs. I could use wood from this to do that and I’d have something to use as a project that I wanted to finish before Christmas.
So, before I tell you what it’s going to be used for let me know…..how would you use it?
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 🥰.
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 haven’t just recycled the chairs, I’ve used elements from a sofa bed in this and other projects; so this is one of a series. The sofa bed just didn’t fit the style of our house, but it has foam, wadding, webbing for seats, wood etc. There’s a lot to reuse.
In this case I ripped off the material that covered the padding on the frame of the sofa bed and found foam and wadding that was clean and ready to use.
Here are the chairs pre upcycle…
…..you can see the seat pad is quite thin and it’s quite low down. This is because the part that covers the chair dips down and the seat pad nestles in there. I wanted to smooth out that area so I could just cover the seat with material rather than reproduce something like this…
I removed all the nail heads first. As you prise them off they become too irregular to nail in again and I want to replace them with gimp braid trim anyway. Nevertheless I think they may be able to be salvaged for another project. Perhaps seperating out the reusable ones, and then removing the twisted nails from those that can’t be used. The latter can have their heads used by gluing them on, with the salvaged nails used spread throughout the project.
The material I’ve used to cover the interior of the chair was one I’d bought online at minimum expense from a discount supplier on eBay. The material was originally distributed by Next and is this lovely lavender velvet. It’s also very thick, so good for an upholstery project. As there are two chairs I knew there wouldn’t be sufficient to cover both entirely, but I’d already considered using a second complimentary fabric on the exterior. I was really pleased with the result when completed.
Throughout the project I reused the padding that was already there, as the chair had evidently been reupholstered in its life and these were in good condition.
I took the original apart and sewed the new interior sides and back together in a similar style. However I couldn’t get it as snug.
Oh, and I also built up the seat here.
I hand sewed the gimp braid, adding a stitch every cm or so. I think it gives a cleaner look than the alternatives.
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.
I’m about to move onto the kitchen floor, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on the areas that I’ve managed to finish. Nearly all ‘above ground’ is now done, apart from the two lengths of ceiling that I have to leave incomplete because of the electrics that need finishing. So ignore the floor, and let me tell you how I’ve been getting along…
I posted about this bookcase that I turned into an open, shelving unit. Here it is now with the decorative brackets attached and stained and varnished brown. As I said in my previous post, I’d realised that I was going to struggle finding a buffet unit narrow enough to fit on this wall without it meeting the oven shelf. I’d dreaded moving it as I knew I’d need to strip it again….😫. But I think it looks good here.
The bookcase now cupboard was replaced with this buffet top. It is the partner to a base which I’m going to reduce its width and lace beside the oven. The space directly next to the oven will hold a gas bottle, so only the right side will be a working cupboard. Nevertheless it should give me extra workspace too.
You can see the side cupboards which I can now show you without cropping images to emit the mess behind the open doorway. The area just beyond is a mini vestibule entryway which leads to what was the doctors waiting room. This will be my next project – knocking through to create a long, formal dining room. The doorway is a hollow, 1970s plain door. Not appealing. I’ll be posting about how I developed into this tongue and groove door.
My girls have been sitting at the island already 😊.
I’ve started to add some more decor. I’ll be changing the wreath on the mirror door as the pinks are too bright with the more subdued tones of the other decor. I think these other pieces add a more grown up feel to the pink. The painted milk churn is going to be used to store twigs to start the fire eventually.
Speaking of the fire I’ve spray painted this fireback and basket with high temperature spray paint. I have an appointment next Thursday to clean the chimney.
As well as gingerbread elements in the cupboards I told you in this post how I wanted to develop an aea with this detail. This is where the staircase was, and I finally managed to create a false ceiling here. Above it is a staircase, so no one will need to stand there. I couldn’t add beams, so I just tongue and grooved the area and then glued squares of light, pattern polystyrene tiles. They have a flower pattern, which suits the kitchen stile, and I disguised the tile edges with this trim.
The gingerbread elements are actually all sorts of finials, brackets, decorative furniture legs, a side strut of a bed….just everything really. I hope it works, but I’m trying to disguise the huge cement beams which were there to hold the ceiling up in spite of the staircase opening. As you can see the pendant light will fit where the arch is, and this will rest just above the dining table. I still need to repaint and add more acrylic to fill in the gaps.
The final one I want to show you is the cooker shelf and the tiles. The latter are from Bricocash, which is well worth a visit if you live in France and have one near you. Their considerably less expensive than Bricomarche- I got these tiles for 8€ a 30×30 square. I tried to grout them without letting the grout nestle in their crevices; however, even with a sealant applied prior to the grout it didn’t work. I still like the effect though.
You can see that I’ve tongue and grooved the doorway, but I’m waiting for the last bit of electrics to be done before finishing the final, wall section. I’m going to do more work here, I’m thinking of painting the door. But just changing the door handle gives it less of a upvc look, don’t you think?
Please God the COVID restrictions for travel end soon. My husband’s business is in the tourism industry, so there will be no electrics without his salary. And that’s the least of our worries.
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.
This is the picture of the staircase – we needed to have a sink against that wall as we had planned to have the oven in the chimney breast. It was hard work, it took hefting a mallet over four days, but it’s gone.
The advice I received from pops when it came to the staircase removal was to take off the boarding underneath and have a look how the stairs are secured to the wall – making sure I had mask, gloves and protective eyewear as it was going to be dirty. It was, as I hammered into the underneath a scene from Raider of the Lost Arch faced me. Cobwebs and dirt showered down.
With the boarding removed I was left with this…
You can see the iron clips that pin the staircase to the wall. I’m hoping I can retrieve them and use them for an iron fireback that I want to position behind the stove. We’ll see how eroded they are. But even if they’re not suitable at least I have something to take to the diy store as an example of what I need.
Taking pops advice I started from the bottom. With a large, flat headed screwdriver, a hammer, a mallet and a heavy duty chisel I worked away at the back boards first. It was really heavy going. I did about two hours of work and this is where I stopped.
Although I worked for about five hours I only got this much further. The stairs had felt rickety, but they were actually very secure. I’ve been putting the wood aside for use as rustic shelving in the pantry we plan on having.
Final day and it’s all gone. There’s my husband in the corner of the picture. I was on the last step and had dislodged the side of the staircase unexpectedly. I was frightened it would fall and break the wall lights which are behind the bin bags which I placed there to protect them from paint.
As I was hanging onto it to stop it falling I had been crying out for hubby’s help – we’d talked about him coming down for this bit – but he couldn’t hear me through the thick, stone walls. I kept twisting it back and forward and eventually got it loose and away from the light fittings. The final step gave way and it was onto the back, side panel.
The opened up area looks a lot bigger than I imagined. Now I just need to fill the gap with beams. Not today though – I’m having a glass of wine with dinner and relaxing on the sofa.