Flour Sack Bed.

There was a time when sack cloth was a sign of penitence. But there’s nothing remotely punitive as far as I’m concerned about my latest makeover, quite the opposite in fact, and now I look forward to the end of the day when I can enjoy the comfort of it.

Sadly, a while ago, an American friend sold up and headed back to the USA and in consequence was trying to find homes for some of her larger pieces of furniture. I was only to happy to take her bed off her hands.

The old upholstery on her Louis XVI bed had a few large watermarks and we both agreed that it needed recovering, and I promised myself that I would do it when I could. It’s taken a while but finally during this years downtime from the tourist season I seized my chance.

Here it is in its original state, with its dark wood and faintly floral yellow cloth.And below with a the inner face of the foot of the bed half done and an ( unfinished) quick coat of Little Green Company “Slaked Lime Dark”.

I was really fortunate that the structure and basic padding underneath was in very good condition and only the top upholstery needed changing.

Choosing a hardwearing fabric was quite a problem because my black and linen toile curtains were difficult to coordinate with, but I love old grain sacks, so you can imagine how happy I was when I fell upon this old french black and natural flour-sack cloth, (even if “Husband Chez Nous” says it looks as if the bed has been run over by a tractor). Grain sack has too loose a weave, but flour sack is altogether softer and closer weft, which also means it isn’t scratchy when leaning against it. And that’s important considering how much I like to read in bed.

The greatest difficulty has been the thickness of the cloth, especially when it gathers up on the inward curves of the frame. But all things considered I’m pleased with the result.I was lucky to find a very good colour match for the edge detail to hide the tacks. I spent a while trying to find the french word for this kind of edging “ribbon”. “Double cord”, pronounced “doo- bluh cord”, who’d have thought!

Pleasant dreams everyone!

Chatou Brocante and Antiques

We’ve been doing a bit of work on the house again, and this time the shower-room is taking shape. There just the physical water connection, a shower screen and a mirror left to do, and when it comes to mirrors, there’s nothing better than trying to pick up an antique one, especially when the antiques faire at Chatou is on.

We’d never been to this particular fair before and so didn’t know what to expect. The brocante is laid out on a small island in the middle of the river Seine, just outside of Paris. It was mid-week so not too many people were there, but it was huge and fabulous, and there were plenty of makeshift restaurants to choose from in the middle of the day.img_1325-2

What I liked best was the artistry of some of the stands, and there was plenty that I would have loved to buy, though the mirror remained elusive!img_1310img_1311img_1326

There were so many amazing urns and cloches, but our bartering didn’t manage to get us any bargains!img_1327I so nearly went for the pineapple, but “husband chez nous” didn’t look away for long enough.. it was after all “mission mirror”!img_1316I loved this one, a grey and gilt trumeau mirror….the price was to die for too!

And after all, why have one when you can have three!img_1318-1img_1322img_1330

So many lovely things that it was hard to head home.img_1309img_1319

But since the great mirror hunt continues, there’s still the excuse to come back for more. The basin is very lonely all by itself.

Junk Shop “Finds” – And Restoring a Table.

Husband à l’Etranger has been home on gardening leave for over a month now, awaiting his next “mission”, and has quite definitely been leading me astray! Not more than two days can pass before he’s chomping at the bit to get to a local brocante and have a rummage through all that’s out on display. There are several antique fairs and junk shops within a few short minutes of our house, and this morning, after both of us had dragged ourselves out of bed at 5am to get our 14 year old to his “stage” or work experience placement, and then i’d been kindly allowed to get back to sleep again while he did the car trip to the boulangerie at the centre of the “stage”, it seemed only moments before bacon sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice appeared at my bedside. Clearly Husband à l’Etranger was keen to get “antiquing” before the best things were gone!

Every time we get in the car we say firmly to one another “You’re not allowed to buy anything” – knowing full well that December the fifteenth is nearly upon us and represents the awful day when the council take our “Taxe d’Habitation”(resident’s tax), and our “Taxe Foncière”(home owner’s tax) out of our bank accounts in one enormous, and impoverishing chunk, leaving us destitute moments before Christmas. We always look at each other, our faces a picture of hardfast committment to the “no spending” rule, and then spend the morning hoping the other will crack the first.

Last week, Husband à l’Etranger had come home with two brass “fire-dogs” under his arm, which drew some chuntering on my part about promises and too much junk in the garage until he declared that they cost the grand total of 4€, and would so improve the burning capacity of our fireplace and consumption of logs, that he was let off.

The week before he managed to unearth 12 wineglasses that I had completely overlooked that matched EXACTLY our other 6 wineglasses that I had bought in an antique shop two years earlier. We both decided that this was a special occasion because now we could invite more than 6 people to dinner, and they were only 20€. You can imagine the conversation that ensued – Clearly they were meant for us and no-one in their right minds could turn down a bargain like that…could they? Even after the stall owner took 10 minutes to locate, having gone for a coffee, and with such a “cooling off period”, the glasses left with us. A dinner party is in the cooking.

But the largest item that has come home, is one that I bought without his “say-so”. About a month ago I came home with a dining-room table. It was in quite a state, and no-one in their right minds could say that it was pretty. But I had got fed up with the kids arguing about who could put their feet on the bar running under the centre of our old table, and squeaks about squashed feet, and then I discovered this one in a junk shop with no central bar and I knew that with a bit of t.l.c it was a keeper.

It sat in the garage while I blew hot and cold about it, and then finally a fortnight ago I got to work.

So here it is , all orangey red varnish, looking very forlorn:


and a day later, sanded clean:WP_20151103_002

I’m not a big fan of varnish, so when I discovered our local DIY shop sold “invisible” varnish I decided to give it a try. Afterwards I painted the legs with a white primer, followed by a pale grey/taupe matt paint and rubbed them lightly to distress them, and here is the end product:




It has a neat table extension system (rallonges) where the end pieces slide under the main table to shorten it.WP_20151108_002But for now we’re just getting used to where we put our feet…

Perhaps in front of the fire next to the “dogs” suggests Husband à l’Etranger.


In Which You Can’t Chose Your Relatives!

WP_20140119_011About five o’clock yesterday afternoon, mid-tennis lesson, my ex-neighbours and antiques friends sent me a message, inviting me to view their new house, and promising to keep me there until I’d eaten dinner.  Not wanting to turn down a French dinner invitation, by seven I was hammering on their door, my car cleverly already pointing downhill on their narrow road in a homeward direction, thus avoiding any awkward manoevres a wine glass or two later on.

Their house, which i’d seen in a very shabby state of distress a week or so before the removal date was inevitably now a picture of perfection. Antiques husband had just arrived back from the coast with Turbot fresh from the fisherman’s market on the quay and Antiques wife was busy stirring crème fraiche into finely sliced leeks. Cooling on the counter was a freshly baked Tarte Tatin.

Somewhere between the first glass of Champagne and the Tarte Tatin, Antiques husband asked me if I wanted to see his latest purchase and we all trooped into the Salon to view an unframed portrait of very beautiful woman from the early 19th century sitting in her fine blue gown against a deep almost black background. Alongside, cheek to jowel, a multitude of other protraits, all gazing loftily at us from out of their frames.

Having, with a certain level of irony, remarked on the striking family resemblance, the colour of eyes, the angle of the nose and so on, I asked him where he’d found her, and only when he replied ‘The Zenith’ of course, did I realise how close I’d come to missing the most beautiful fair of the Antiques calendar – The Rouen Puces. We laughed about his new addition to the family whilst Antiques husband scrabbled in his wallet and handed me an unused ticked for the final day at the brocante.

So it was that today found me wandering the five halls of antiques and bric à brac and wishing I had a tidy sum of money burning a hole in my pocket.

WP_20140119_019The problem with the ‘Puces’ is that invariably, within about five minutes, it clearly becomes necessary to move house to one with twice as many rooms and several ‘dependances’ or renovate-able outbuildings. Only moments later one is sighing about the misfortune and hardship suffered since the ancestors hadn’t left an enormous country ‘pile’ to inherit. The bearded gentleman above certainly looks a kindly and benevolent fellow, and I considered adopting him and taking him home with me – but first I made a tour of the halls.


WP_20140119_006I rather liked the detail trim on these Louis XVI chairs,

WP_20140119_007and the paint effects on these pieces of furniture.


WP_20140119_005There seemed to be more painted furniture this year than last, and in my mind’s eye I had already placed several pieces in my new baronial home!

WP_20140119_020This rather wonderful dresser was clearly essential for my new vast servants kitchen, though since I liked the display of old labelled pharmacy jars on the shelves within, I decided I would need a second closed dresser in which to store the more every-day items.

WP_20140119_002Clearly things were getting ahead of themselves, so I decided to find a more parsimonious ancestor to encourage a bit of frugality and restraint. I felt that he would have been a little more eclectic and inclined to live off the land.

WP_20140119_014But it was hard not to dream, and not long afterwards, my illusions to grandure had once more returned, and I found myself thinking of beds and armoirs, of which there were several to choose from.



This bed complete with it’s very own ancestor!


A Louis XV style bureau..


and this lovely banquette.WP_20140119_021But firmly setting aside all visions of a Louis XV boudoir, and under by the firm eye of this imposing gentleman, I settled to the task in hand ..

WP_20140119_003..to find a small French chair for my rather more modest bedroom. And after several minutes of hard bargaining the stall holder was carrying a lovely battered Louis XV chair to my car, whilst I took one final glance around at the remaining portraits.WP_20140119_001

But this glamorous woman was no match for the outstanding beauty of Antiques Husband’s ‘arriere grande maman’, so I turned my back on her musing to myself that..

While you can’t choose your relatives, you can at least these days select your ancesters!


Shoaled Out!

WP_20131116_006Inspired by the Normandy coastline, its abundance of little creeks and inlets, and its majestic chalk cliffs which dominate the coastline, this shoal of fishes in fabrics inspired by the Impressionist painters who graced the region around the 1860’s are filled with beautiful scented Provencale lavender.

Last year the entire shoal sold out in a matter of hours, and I find them once again in great demand and have been busy “creating” when I find a rare moment of peace. The scented “poissons” are perfect for laying between layers of clothes in a chest of drawers, or hanging from a lone door handle to gently fragrance a room. I should know, because with 50 poisson already wallowing in the shallows of my grandmother’s old wooden trough, my home smells wonderful!

If you would like a few to buy as gifts this Christmas for an elderly aunt or an ageing grandmother, contact me in the comments section and I will be in touch.

This shoal have been netted by my children’s school Christmas Fête,

..but there are plenty more making their way upstream!