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  • Chalking Up Lessons in Decoration

    This month I have been mainly painting.

    I can assure you that this phase of a renovation project is not to be underestimated.  Of course, I’ve painted many a room given my profession, so did not feel daunted by assuring my builder that we’d take care of the decoration.

    This was my first mistake.

  • French Chic for Less

    Restored french chairI’ve moved on from phase one of our renovation now and am taking a little ‘building’ sabbatical pending phase 2.

    Of course, that means engaging in the more enjoyable pastime of ‘dressing’, or finishing, our home.

    It’s only the very lucky who get a clean sweep at this, buying everything new for their second, third or, in our case, umpteenth home. Actually most people have to make do with existing furniture and we’re no exception.

    Our last two houses were new-builds so a far cry from the stone house we have now. Luckily my taste has always been a tad eclectic so I’m comfortable with mixing new and old to get the result I’m after.

    In fact, the French are traditionally expert at this sort of styling. They pass furniture down through generations, rarely throw things away and nonchalantly re-purpose, re-cycle and up-cycle.

    So, taking a leaf from their book (incentivized by a severe lack of funds) I set about a little of the same. I’m sharing a few of my projects in the hope of inspiring more of the same.

    Re-cycling - my best bargain

    Renovated BathroomI’ve been amazed at the prices in the brocantes these days, no longer the bargain hunters dream as canny owners have realised the demand for French antique finds. However, a bargain is still to be had and my pretty little shelf was forlornly shoved at the back of the shop, broken, dusty and ready for the dechetterie. Monsieur was a little incredulous to find some interest in it and gladly offloaded it for 10 euros when I bought a rather cute wall lamp. Some wood glue, a good clean and a lick of Annie Sloan and it was ready for the bathroom wall.

    Re-cycling a well-loved item

    An old favourite, a little decorative mirror, has been with me for many years. It started off gold, was transformed in white, had a spell in shocking pink, back to white and now black to go with that cute shelf. I’m rather proud of this given it was £20 in a sale nearly 20 years ago. I think I’ve had my money’s worth don’t you?

    Re-purposing – a bit of a luxury but what the hell

    Spotted on a friends website, a gorgeous chinoiserie umbrella stand was a must have. The colours and design were spot on for my ensuite but, as strange as I am, even I know there is no need for an umbrella stand in the bathroom – after all it would make a shower seem a little unnecessary. But it does make a stunning bin.

    Upcycling – two items in to one

    One pretty chair with the wrong coloured material and one rug which I love but can’t leave on the floor as the dogs think I’ve given them the very best bed. Bingo, a shaggy chair that gives a wonderful texture against the stone and adds a bit of rock-chic alongside a feather lampshade.

    French wine box turned bread binRe-purposing – am I repeating myself, it may be the wine!

    20 minutes down the road from Buzet, we bought 6 bottles when we first got here and were given them in this box. The wine didn’t last long but the box did. What do you think of my new bread-bin?


    New purchase (ok sometimes we have to succumb!)

    Rustic picture frameOf course, there are times when you simply can’t find what you are looking for but, don’t forget, there is a world of re-cycled products out there so hunt around for something original and unique. This frame from www.sujiivana.co.uk is made from recycled wood collected by the homeless of Capetown so scores well for providing income to those less fortunate, cleaning the streets of Capetown and re-cycling a waste product.

    The secret to this method of furnishing your home…do as the French do. Buy only items you love for their shape, texture or design and remember that colours, material and even its purpose can be changed. That way they’ll be with you for a very long time!

    Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to give Ikea a miss when attempting to furnish your home cheaply – there is so much more satisfaction in saving stuff destined for the dechetterie and getting yourself a unique item to boot.

    Happy re-cycling!

  • What did the Romans ever do for us?

    Exhausted by my recent endeavors with the ceilings (see my previous blog) my builder forced me to turn my attentions to the next looming problem - the kitchen floor.

    Not lucky enough to have acquired a house with a lovely original floor I began to consider my options. Of course the disgusting lino had long since been removed and revealed floorboards. Not your lovely aged and rutted wooden planks but thin, uneven, untreated and frankly quite forlorn looking boards.


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