living in france · Pretty Little Things · Uncategorized

Les Petites Vignettes

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I love these little, round, mirrored trays to collect beautiful things on. I don’t know, they just seem to present them so well; like a gift beautifully wrapped.

An ‘Action’ store from Denmark has opened in our little part of France and it has lots of lovely things at very reasonable prices. My husband is already despairing. The car park is continually packed as we’re are not used to these kind of stores here and I’m finding that it’s replacing ‘Dunelm Mill’ as my place to go for nicnacs (I say replace, nothing really can replace Dunelm Mill. Sigh).

La Marraine has just been for a visit (miss her already) and we payed several trips in her six day stay.

I love the little display above and I have this one on the mantlepiece in our bedroom. You won’t  guess what’s in the lovey glassware…..but if you’re interested scroll down and I’ll tell you…

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In the decanter there’s mouthwash (yes really – it’s why there’s a glass on the same tray), and in the large glass dish with the lid are my cod liver oil capsules. Who would ever have thought cod liver oil could be this glam?!

Brocante · Decorating · Uncategorized

More Of My French Kitchen

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Just thought I’d share more of my kitchen, or at least the sweet little Brocante buys I found. I know, it does seem like I live there!

Here is a close up of my open shelves….

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….and here’s one of the little French canisters that I love (I spotted them after my inspiration post). The little salt and pepper set was given to me by my Pops.

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That’s all I have time for this morning, I should be sewing some couch covers as we speak!

 

Brocante · Uncategorized

3 Simple Steps To Spotting A Brocante Oil Painting

IMG_9469I was in a local Brocante, amongst the dust and the mess, next to some shelves holding a higgildy piggildy mess of pictures chatting to my Pops when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye – an oil painting. I new straight away what it was, I could see the way the light caught the brushwork and like a fox on the scent I was straight over their to pick it up.

“How did you spot that from over there?” Pops said. I’d love to say it was some Brocante buyers instinct, but it wasn’t. Just luck I guess, but confirming it was an oil wasn’t, that took three simple steps.

Look At The Back

The foolproof way of telling if it’s an oil is to look at the back; if IMG_9443you can see the paint coming through the canvas then it’s an oil.

Look At The Back Too

Whilst you’re round there look at the frame itself. Some oils have a canvass wadding place over the painting, but the obvious age of the frame will be a tell if it’s a clever reproduction or not. This picture wasn’t a good example of that, but my oil in the header is.

Look At The Texture

A lot of reproductions now have a textured surface to make them appear as if they’re an oil, so to be sure you’ve managed to bag a bargain, have a look and see if there are clear brush marks that correspond with the paint marks themselves. A reprint will have a consistent pattern of marks, an oil won’t.

In this selection here I have three oils, and a definite watercolour. The most expensive was 43€, then 9€, then an unbelievable 1€. Which one do you think is which?

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Brocante · Decorating · Kitchen · Uncategorized

My Perfect Kitchen Corner

 

IMG_9390Note it’s the corner of the kitchen that’s perfect, not the whole kitchen. Behind this photo is me wrestling with the dog before he re-discovers the recycling, rushing into the adjacent dining room to take La Jolie Fille down from the table top again (I’ve moved chairs away from the dining table and she moves them back to get up their again, she’s determined) and hoovering up after my husband as he brings in the local beach on his shoes (“Oh, did I?” Innocent face). But this corner of my kitchen, bliss. Sometimes you need a perfect corner to keep you going don’t you?

As you can see below I’ve managed to find an equivilant to the herb poster that inspired me in my last post. I bought these inexpensive frames from my local La Foir’ Fouille and printed these herb pictures out. It shows how effective they are as my uncle thought I’d got them from the Brocante.

The café sign that you see in the image above is one that I did get from a Brocante; the colours are reflected in my plates that I’ve gathered together in the old plate rack. I didn’t need this as a drainer as the kitchen itself has a cunning cupboard that’s above the sink where you put washed items in to drain. Very clever.

Above the wooden plate rack is a vintage Mary with angel adoring her. The flowers that you can see draped over it are actually a string of fairy lights; if I’m feeling frustrated at all the cleaning a house requires I put them on – with some Edith Piaf playing on the vintage style CD player you can’t help but have your mood lifted.

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The wash stand you can see is actually my second, and preferred buy. I made a Brocante buying error with my first, which I’ll share with you later. I had originally bought a wash stand to make into a dressing table for La Belle Fille, but I gave her a chest of drawers I’d painted instead when I found it had brought some little friends (yep, you’re getting what my error was huh?).

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I was inspired to use a washstand in the kitchen by the final Pin on my last post and, as there was a huge gap next to our oven, it seemed like the ideal piece of furniture to fill it due to its marble top. You can put anything down on it from a hot oven without worrying. I bought it for €33 – the average you pay for a wash stand – and love the rich tones of the wood. There is a little drawer which I keep sharp knives etc in, and underneath is a shelf which I’ve put an unused wardrobe drawer on (from when Le Marie put a clothes rail in the armoire) to hold our spices. I’ve actually put vegetable baskets under the stand now too.

There’s a little shelf on the top of the wash stand so I keep my oils, wines, salt and pepper there. The rose jar was a gift from my Belle Mere and I’ve filled it with rock salt. I’d love to know what you think of my little corner, so if you want to drop me a line below the bar or on Twitter, instagram or Google+ any comments will be welcome.

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Decorating · Inspiration · Uncategorized

10 Pins To Inspire Your French (Rented) Kitchen

You’re limited when you have a rented kitchen, but the basic white kitchen we have has a lot of potential, even if there will be things that I can’t do. I’ve already done quite a bit of work which I’ll share later, but today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite Pins that have inspired me.

Here is my ideal kitchen….

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So perfect. Obviously the Aga isn’t going to be something in my kitchen, nor the window seat, or beautiful wood counter tops, or the Smeg fridge (sigh); but the shelves are something I’ve already started on.

IMG_9379Here’s another shelf, a great idea above the vintage stove. I love the stove too, it goes to show that you don’t always need loads of money to have that cosy kitchen feel. I really like the blue plates on the wall and accessories as well as the blind.

Here are more shelves, the blue goes with the green IMG_9378beautifully in this one don’t you think?

I love open shelves in a kitchen. They add interest and keep the area feeling light and open. I never worry about dirt either as whenever we have a dishwasher load just short of full I grab something from our open shelves and put them in too. As long as you remember what you’ve already done you can clean whole shelves relatively painless in a few washes, so everything stays bright and usable.

One thing I really want on my shelves are some of these vintage storage jars. I love them, particularly this pretty one on the right above.

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This one above isn’t here for the shelves, but this gorgeous sink curtain. I adore the lace, but to be honest I’m a sucker for these anyway. Here’s an alternative to a plain skirt below, the material behind chicken wire. I have a couple of glass cabinet doors in the kitchen and I have to hold myself back from smashing the glass (horrible grey, smoky stuff) and giving this a go. The drop handles really add something too, so delicate. Unfortunately I’ve got green, bar ones. If we were staying here long term I’d just change them, but at the moment we’re in wait and see mode.

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Something I’d love to do, but maybe it’s one for later on, is this folksy painted bin….

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And my penultimate Pin is to show this lovely herb print, which I really wanted to emulate in ours.IMG_9389

That makes this my final Pin. As I can’t have my Aga I’m taking inspiration from this piece of furniture that’s obviously been co-opted by the kitchen. I love the tones in the wood and the marble top. It looks so rich and somehow adds a bit of decadence to the kitchen. Beautiful. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.IMG_9387

 

 

Brocante · Decorating · Uncategorized

Easy Watermark Removal From Furniture

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No matter how many coasters you put around your living room you’re bound to have watermark circles on your furniture, or perhaps some other water damage. Read on to learn how to correct this easily.

IMG_9321When I saw this table in my local Brocante I loved it. You can’t see it in the main picture but the legs have these beautiful carvings. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the price ticket of 35€ and knew exactly where I’d put it.

When I took a closer look at it I could see the reason for its low price; the top had been damaged by water and there were little white splash marks all over it. I new I could correct this though without too much fuss so quickly snapped it up.

Marks like these can be made by liquid or steam – they are more commonly found as a result of hot cups on a table and are usually white or light-colored. If they’re light coloured it signifies that they haven’t penetrated deeply, so it’s safe to buy that Brocante piece. If the stain is dark, however, it indicates that the liquid has damaged the finish on the wood and possibly through to the wood itself, so you may want to give it a miss as you’ll have more of a fix on your hands.

With my table top this is the method I used successfully, but there are additional methods below.

How I Fixed My Table Top

I used spray oil from my kitchen cupboard for my first step – yes, that’s right, just IMG_9305normal, cooking oil. However other materials to use that you can find laying around the house are mayonnaise or petroleum jelly. Basically you’re going to remove the watermark with oil.

Here you can see the wood before and the result after I’ve rubbed in the oil (I’m afraid the before photos don’t really show how vivid the marks were). To finish with I had some Annie Sloan dark wax and as this was a dark wood I decided to use that. However any solid, polishing wax for wood can be rubbed used. It’s that simple!IMG_9311

Other Methods To Use

  1. Put a little toothpaste, not the gel type, on a wet cloth and rub the stain gently until the spot disappears. The mild abrasive in the old fashioned, white toothpastes will remove the stain. Wash it and then wax as I did. If you have only  gel toothpaste you can mix a little baking soda with water to form a paste and rub this in. Just to be sure I’d try this method on a piece of wood you can’t see first, but it really isn’t so harsh as to cause problems. Again clean off and wax.
  2. This next one you will definitely need to try on a hidden piece of wood; if the product dissolves the finish, obviously, don’t use it. Use a mild solvent such as a paint thinner and apply it with a moist, soft cloth in a circular motion until the stain is gone. Squeeze excess moisture from the cloth, and then rub gently until the stain is gone. Again clean it and wax it.
Brocante · Chalk paint · Decorating · Uncategorized · Upcycled Objects

My Brocante Lamp Refinished

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Remember my post about when I went Brocante shopping when we signed the  contract for our French rental? It was one of my most expensive buys, but I was so excited by it. I new it was brass, just by the sheer weight of it; so despite the too small, tobacco stained lampshade (kind of wishing I’d saved that for an upcycle, but we got rid of it when we moved from our temporary gîte) and the bizarre, carpet base it had was o be mine (cue evil laugh – bwah, hah, hah).petitnid blog wordpress brass lamp before

The first thing I did was buy a lampshade to replace the one it had. This cost 12€ from Centrakor and was a great size and shape for it, if a little plain. However I’d bought it without the lamp and when I got it home the fitting was way to big for the lamp’s bulb fitting. This often happens with older lamps, but I managed to find these lampshade reducers from Amazon to fix the problem.

As soon as I’d got it home I took a peek beneath the carpet and could see some plywood  being used for the base. It seems someone has broken the original base and knocked this together to salvage the lamp itself. As most of these lamps rest on a marble base I wondered if imitating something like this would be a good alternative. As I can’t afford a real marble base this means a paint job. I finally got round to doing something with it in today’s nap time.

I started off with the base and ripped off the carpet. Because I wanted an uneven surface to give it a stone like quality I didn’t bother removing all the carpet remnants and didn’t sand it either. I didn’t want to spray paint this one as although it’s my favourite nap time method due to the speed of it, it would be easy to get it on the brass which would be hard to remove. With chalk paint if that happens I don’t even need to use sandpaper. I’ve done something similar before and, because Iwanted to make sure the surface wasn’t damaged, I just lightly scraped it with my thumb nail on a slight patch. It didn’t damage anything, except for me nail that is.

The main reason I went for chalk paint though is because of its ability to thicken, allowing you to give depth and texture to the paint. Perfect for this project. I added two to three coats and left enough time between each to allow the surface to almost dry before adding another coat. I want to build up lots of dense, uneven layers.

In fact if you look at the first picture you’ll see that the person who added the wood didn’t sand or finish it, so there are lots of gaps. When I was painting I just took advantage of the thickness of the paint and filled these in.

To get the same effect you need to dab at the surface, leaving brush marks. The longer you leave the chalk paint the denser it becomes, so leave the lid off between each coat. You can see the pictures of these stages here…

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See how the texture has got progressively more dense? Of course the carpet remnants help too.

After this I wanted to give it an aged look to blend it with the Brinze itself and so I used a round headed brush to roughly dab on some Annie Sloan dark wax to seal and emphasise all this rough work. In some areas I used a little, others a lot…

You see how it gives that lovely aged, marble like effect?

I decided to use leftover trim I had from the curtain project. The silk flowers are some that had been attached to a dress I wore to a wedding. If I’ve decided not to wear a piece of clothing again I like to see what I can use it for or what I can salvage from it.

Whenever I’m thinking about adding trim to something I photograph different design ideas and then create a pic collage to get a good comparison to see what I like. Here’s the variety of trim I tried.

I felt the top and/or bottom designs reminded me of Easter Bonnets crossed wth St Patricks Day hats, so they were out. When I’d decided on my design, because I was laying the ribbon in the centre and therefore couldn’t use the edges as a guide, I had to mark a line. I just used chalk and a measuring tape. The ribbon is 5cm in width and the width of the shade was 29cm, so I measured 12cm and marked a line and placed the ribbon edge on that.

When I tried out the ribbon it seemed easier to make it fit one way that the other, it laid flatter. Maybe this is because velvet ribbon is weaved on the bias.

I know a lot of people use hot glue guns for this type of project, but I used one once and it seemed to come though and spoil the material and I’ve been put off from them ever since. What I used to stick the ribbon to the shade was heavy duty spray glue. I started by cutting the length of ribbon I wanted then, starting with the middle, sprayed about a 10cm length with glue spray before lining it up with the chalk marks. I repeated that process around the lamp.

With the kind of tapering shape at some stage you find that you can’t continue to line the ribbon with the chalk marks without it puckering up. As I reached the side of th example, Where I felt it would be less noticeable, I snipped half way down the ribbon so I could lay one half on top of the other. At first this looked a bit messy, but when the second, thinner ribbon was added I don’t you don’t notice it. However, with hindsight I probably should have measured and placed that as it’s  a bit wonky, ha!

When I attached the silk flowers, as they’d originally been a broach, I did so with the safety pin. If I thought of this when I was adding the broader ribbon I would have just placed that bit of excess material at the front and attached them there as it was kind of tricky to do on material that’s fit tightly against the drum.

Heres the finished lamp with the light on and off. What do you think?

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