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.
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.
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’ve spoken about our difficulties getting a real fire in the living room. As a result, depending on whether it’s possible to open the fireplace, we may turn the adjacent room into a music room with more formal sitting that we’ll use on high days and holidays.
If we do so I plan to keep the paint scheme as it is, meaning only a change of furniture will be needed.
Here it is currently as the dining room.
So with the blush in mind here are 15 images that are inspiring me.
This is a really simple post for New Year’s Day. I’ve been thinking about how to add mouldings to the walls in the part of our staircase that has the turning stair leading up to the higher floors. Unlike the front hallway at first glance this isn’t a simple one third, one third, one third prospect where I have a type of moulding below a dado, something above in the next third, then a picture rail and ceiling section of moulding. The need to follow a diagonal line which turns into a flat can make this simple formula complicated.
The below dado section is fine, but if you want to add a series of panelled mouldings in the next third, as I do, they have the challenge of having to follow the diagonal line too.
I managed to gain inspiration from great houses and how they handled this dilemma.
Here in this green painted stately home you can see how the mouldings have been used in lines to section off areas giving clear horizontals to create tableaux mouldings. So a narrow, moulded frieze runs from the base of a higher floor around the visible stairwell.
Here it is in a more simply painted white decor, although the mouldings are magnificent.
Here is what I will base my blue and white colour scheme on, with the possibility of less expensive stencilled panels surrounded by simple, wood appliqué moulding frames.
Obviously the ceiling moulding is never going to happen, but it’s interesting to see how the final area on a stairwell landing can be treated.
I said that I was going to share how to use insulating primer to save you time and money when chalk painting old furniture white. As part of my review of the living room, developing it so that it reflected a American French Country style theme, I painted this piece white.
A quick word before we start. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a small bookcase or cupboard with interesting features. I’ve found that buying buffet tops gives you a piece with decorative character for little money. Most are small as they sit on top of something else so, whereas an ornate buffet may be a squeeze in your home, these repurposed won’t.
This buffet had damaged stained glass doors. I managed to salvage one, but the other may not be saved. Still working on it. However taking the doors off still left me with a lovely bookcase/console style table for fifteen euros. The glass door I have salvaged will be used elsewhere so more on that later.
Here is the cupboard having been spray painted with insulating primer….
I obviously did the spraying elsewhere, then moved it to paint with chalk paint. Here’s a close up of the primer….
It’s bobbly, but it can be easily sanded down.
The reason it’s advisable to use on dark, vintage pieces is that it stops the old varnish bleeding into the new paint and causes ugly stains. When you clean a piece prior to painting then you may notice on your cloth lots of dark colour. It’s more than likely it hasn’t been that dirty and it’s the stain already bleeding. That’s when you reach for the insulating primer spray. It will seal the nasty and let you get on with the job.
Here’s the finished piece; chalk painted white on the exterior and the French grey of the rose table on the interior…..
The mirror was a dark brown, wood one that was only 13€. For some reason these are incredibly cheap whereas buying a gold mirror is expensive. However painting it gold uses hardly any gold paint and is a quick job. If it’s a square or rectangular shape it’s even easier as you can just mask off and spray paint it.
What furniture have you repurposed in your home? Have you ever had a varnish bleed disaster? What did you do about it?
I first told you about this rose table in a brocante buys post. It was a real bargain and I love the carved details. However having reviewed the way the living room decor is going I decided that I needed more continuity in the furniture. So I’ve opted to paint and slightly distress the table.
I’m lightening a lot of the furniture, but I didn’t want solid white either. So I mixed the inexpensive pots of “moss green” and “grey” chalk paint that I got from Action here in France and painted away.
As with the painted wardrobe, I’m not going to go into how to paint with chalk paint as there are lots of tutorials out there.
Here’s the finished table. I painted it whilst the kids were in bed and then they “helped” me sand and wax it. FYI if you have eager hands to help I found giving them a normal piece of brown paper instead of sandpaper keeps your project intact.
I like the way the distressed paint highlights the rose details on the table.
I’ll update you soon on further changes to the living room. À bientôt!
This wardrobe was a 30€ bargain at my local brocante. You can see from the before photos below that it was a well made piece of furniture. With its interior lined with fabric, intricate carved details, it’s draw lined side cupboard and brass fittings – I fell in love with it.
The wood was worn in places though, some of the trim had been knocked off and it was very dark in the little bedroom I planned to make its home. I decided to paint it with chalk paint and highlight the ornate carvings. I’m not going to bore you with the application of chalk paint – it’s not new and there are lots of how tos on Pinterest that are excellent quality. Instead I thought I’d focus on how to highlight the trim.
FYI – normally I’d remove all the hardware, but this was impossible with this scenario, so this has affected the way I’ve dealt with the piece.
Remove all the drawers
I spray painted the shelf like drawers entirely with gold paint. I then spray painted the interior of the other drawers. prior to painting them with chalk paint.
Paint with chalk paint
I know you will probably know all about chalk paint, but I love to use it as when it, inevitably, gets knocked and some comes off it doesn’t leave ugly, chip holes.
I put on about two to three thick coats. I needed the extra layer to cover the dark stain. Thank God the old stain didn’t bleed into the paint like when I up cycled this secrátaire.
Sand with very fine sand paper
I find doing small, circular motions the best to sand. It’s not a glass like finish, but it is smooth to the touch.
Start with the Flower
You can see my paint here, which is acrylic paint. You notice I have two shades of the pink and green along with white…
Start with the paler pink and paint the roses, not forgetting the underneath of the flowers…
I needed a couple of coats, but there’s minimal drying time. Take a flat artists brush and put some coral pink on there, then start to dab it in the gap between the bud and its exterior petals. Add some within the centre of the bud and underneath and at the edges of the petals.Keep blending to have darker and lighter pinks.You’ll notice I used darker in the crevices on the bud’s petals.
As that’s drying move onto the leaves.
You can see my different shades of green with the white below. Start with the darker shade in the crevices, then start to add a little of the lighter green to give it some dimension, then start to add more lighter shades on the tips and high points of the leaves, as if sunlight is catching it there.
Paint the ribbon with the coral colour, without adding any lighter paint.
Go over the coral and exterior trim with gold paint.
Start to highlight areas of the relief in gold as below. Just after this was dry I went round with my flat brush again and painted the chalk paint over the top to clean up the edges.
Wax the painted finish
Complete the entire wardrobe with chalk paint, highlighting the relief and adding gold to any other details you want to. When this is done wax the exterior of the wardrobe with transparent wax. Then you may want to take some dark wax and give it an aged feel.
Add gold to any interior areas you want to
As I had some interior areas that I felt could do with some extra highlight I painted these gold too.
Use acrylic varnish on the inside
The interior of the wardrobe is going to have a lot more wear on it, so you may want to varnish this with water based, transparent varnish. You can even use this on the exterior instead of wax if you wanted to.
This is what the wardrobe looks like when completed…
It reminds me of the one in Beauty and the Beast….,
(I don’t know whether that’s a good thing). It goes beautifully with the secrétaire in the corner. I’ve got a dressing table and some chairs to finish then I’ll post an update.
I’ve had a terrible chest infection, it’s something I’ve been susceptible to since forever, but this one has been very hard to shift. It still lingers, but I’m starting to be able to join the land of the living -even if I limp away after short periods of time.
However as it’s the feast of the Sacred Heart today I thought I’d give you an update on the hallway, with its dedication to the Sacred Heart, and in particular the doorways that I’ve painted. The hallway isn’t finished so you’ll see some snags in the paintwork amongst other things which I’ll touch up prior to those final details.
The doors originally looked like this…
I’d already added the vintage fingerplates and I knew I’d paint and gild the doors as I did in the dining room, but as you can see from these picture I’ve also added a feature on the top….
These were wood mouldings bought here that I didn’t painted gold. They tie in with the wood carving over thee main door. Those of you who read the blog at that time will remember that I’d bought this old top from an armour and put it above the door (the post is here).
As you can see I’ve highlighted this in gold too. I’m considering hand painting some roses in the panel that is bare as I did with my secrétaire. When I have more energy I’ll get to it.
On the doors you can see I’ve filled the gaps between the armoir carving with these wood mouldings bought here and spray painted gold.
You can also see that I’ve added additional flourish mouldings bought here and, again, spray painted gold. I’ve also highlighted details on the door in gold too. I did this as these doors are original Art Deco, which would be great in a more modern scheme but doesn’t really go with this. I took a chance that the details would bring it in line with the rest of the room and I think they’ve worked.
Previously I’ve given how tos on the panelling (here and here) but these were literally paint, glue them on and then repaint any details that need it. I haven’t done that last part yet due to my illness and you can see that when I remove the masking tape a little extra gold and blue came with it. It will be done.
You can see the little, porcelain door handle that used to be in the dining room that I’ve now moved here as I thought they went so well with the decor theme and colours.
I gave you a sneak peak of the marble relief picture, but here it is in more detail…
You’ll notice I’ve used the picture rail. The picture is so heavy I’d taken it down for fear of it dropping and smashing. I’d ordered the wire and picture rail hooks from here and here and it had taken some time to get to France (I hadn’t seen an equivalent here). They’re the brace to the belt of the picture hook and eye system that I’d already used. I’m a little more confident now that it will remain there.
The Queen Anne chair has been pictured on both sides of the room as shortly after I took the photos my husband came in and complained about its position. He thought that as it was just in front of the door it was an inconvenience. So I moved it to the other side.
Here’s a close up of the ceramic umbrella stand which is an original Art Deco piece and suits the colouring of the room superbly. I think it mimics the central chandelier with its pink candle cap light shades and the ceiling rose that reflects the stained glass design I made (see here).
In these shots you can see the cornice I’ve added and, unfortunately, the unfinished side panels. The one drawback of ordering the wood carvings from China is that they take soooooo long getting here and I’m waiting for two more pieces.
I was going to add some more wood carvings on the ceiling and above the picture rail, but it looks ‘enough’ now, and I don’t want to spoil it by adding more. Some of them have already arrived and I think I’ll use them in the dining room where I’d intended to do something similar.
What I am also waiting for is some crystal droplets to arrive for the chandelier – I’ll post with the other details as well as one more little thing I want to add.
So I moved the chair on the other side. I covered this about three years ago and had considered recovering it in gold damask as I have some material upstairs just waiting to be used. However seeing it here I’m not so sure I’ll rush into that.
Here’s a reverse shot of the chair. I’ve always loved the rose pattern on the reverse of the chair. I think the umbrella stand looks good here too.
Above the radiator, which I’ve spray painted pale blue along with the gold shelf, are some old dress design prints. One is from a collection in 1914….
or season one Downton, and the other is from 1922….
Now is that season three or four? Doesn’t the old telephone suit them?
Anyway I think they’re beautiful and the black and gold seems to tone down the cutesy girliness of the room as does, I hope, the muted pink and taupe.
I’ve replaced the photos of my great grandmothers, again. Whenever I decorate a new room they are ceremonially moved into it it seems.
Here’s a close up of that beautiful clock. I haven’t even tried to get it going yet. I don’t think it has a key. I know I won’t be winding it up every day so why fuss?
Finally here’s a close up of my Sacred Heart statue. I’ve added some tea light holders and flowers so it doesn’t look so bare as before. I’m dedicating all my family to Him anew today. Are you?
I haven’t been posting or even reading other blogs as I’ve been hard at it trying to complete the front hallway.
Do you remember when I said I was only going to do a little bit at a time? Ha! I’ve put up a cornice, a picture rail, painted it, added details to the doors….I’m aching 😩, but now it’s taking shape and I’m so happy and excited 🤩.
With lots more to do I thought I’d take the time to share these little glimpses of how it’s taking shape.
Here are my beautiful, vintage Sacred Heart if Jesus and Mary statues on a gold shelf…
Without intending to it seems that the décore of the hallway compliments them beautifully.
This relief is marble and incredibly heavy. I bought the little lights when we first started coming to France. As I dreamed of living here I tucked them away. Now they’re on our wall!
This Art Nouveau holy water fountain is perfect here isn’t it? It’s in pewter and compliments the doors superbly. As you can see I’ve yet to finish the first set of panels as I’m waiting for some more pieces.
I’ll post on the details I’ve added to the doors soon.