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?
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.
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.
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!
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?
We have two front entrances and I intend the second one to have a simple, country vibe as it’s the one our familly will use most of the time.
I’ve been getting inspiration from Pinterest, of course. You’ll notice themes of wood panelling in wainscoting style, light and airy spaces as well as light coupled with deep, Victorian tones. Wood and stone floors, benches and window seats as well as storage areas are elements I’m hoping to incorporate.
Towards the end I’ve included some ideas for the upper landing as I need this area to flow into the formal entrance and hallway. Enjoy!
I want to do something with our boring upvc front door. I’m an admirer of Artt Nouveau stained glass, as this post showed. I would really like to see if I can imitate that on our dull front door. In the meantime here’s some inspiration….
I have one more to show you, but I might basing my attempt at repeating Art Nouveau stained glass on it; so more of that later.
I’m really pleased with how this turned out; it was super simple to do and didn’t cost a lot at all. At the bottom of the post you can’t print out the chart for free, but this is how I did it.
Print out the image below on waterslide paper
Be sure to order either inkjet or laser paper, according to your printer, and that the type in question is clear. I used this one here. I’ve a more in-depth tutorial here, but suffice to say you print it out as normal (no need for a reverse image) so the ink goes on the glossy side of the paper. Leave it to dry for half an hour so you don’t smudge the ink.
Spray varnish the decal
I can’t stress this enough, but do it at least four times, making sure it’s fully dry in between. This will make it so much easier to dry. It really is the difference between using something that’s like cling film and something which feels like a laminate sheet pre the machine.
Clean the glass you want to put the image on
Remove the glass from the frame and clean it, making sure it’s dry. I used an old frame which had another image in. It was an old, old french photo which had just been glued on some backing and put in the frame; no mount and the corners where turning. I’d bought a new frame for the photo and put the original aside. So when I thought of this project I dug it out; it’s natural wear complements the image I was creating.
I kept the backing of the frame under the glass whilst I worked so I could see what I was doing more easily, but it wasn’t connected for ease of movement.
Put the decal in water
As the image is A4 in size I couldn’t use a bowl, so I just used this roasting tin to submerge the decal in water. As you can see it rolls up at first and then gradually unrolls. It takes seconds and when you see that it’s time to take it out.
Place the decal on the glass
Put it where you want it to go on the glass, with the decal backing still attached. It’s easier to position like this and leaving the decal in the water that long is going’s to make the backing’s removal easy.
Slide the paper
As you’ve given the paper enough time, separating it from underneath the decal should be relatively easy. Gently holding one end, slide the paper out, readjusting it slightly when necessary. However you can tear it if you readjust too much, so it’s better to get it in place as much as possible before hand.
Smooth it out
With your finger smooth out the decal from the inside to the outside to get rid of any excess water and bubbles. It helps if after you’ve done this once you hold the glass up to the light and do it again to get the best result.
Dry off the excess water
Start by using a dry cloth and lightly patting it, then prop it up somewhere safe so it dries completely.
Glue it to the frame
Using a clear, preferably water proof, glue around the rim but try not to use too much as you don’t want it smearing when you add the glass. Make sure the glass is facing the right way – yes, I did that 😳, 😆. Slot the glass in and put any clips in place to add an extra layer of security. Lay it face down to let the glue dry.
Here’s the finished image….
As you can see it just has numerous conversions that I need when I’m baking as well as some vintage looking illustrations.