The Thursday Three – velvet and verdigris

velvet damask vintage curtainsI will miss aspects of the cottage in the UK. Although the cheap white walls and dark brown carpet upstairs are not my choice, they are an OK backdrop for photos.

As you might know, I have been sourcing curtains, mostly old ( but a smattering of new linen ones) for the French house for a long time. It takes time to find the perfect pair and they are utterly critical when considering natural light and colour reflection and what could be more authentic or eco-friendly than keeping old, sound wooden windows & doors and insulating with thick drapes?

This pair of velvet and damask gems are superfluous to my window needs, but they are very heavy and very beautiful for the right spot, door or narrow window. Extremely well made and sitting on Etsy right now.

Having listened to many folk bemoaning the difficulty of finding drapes to suit the  height and drop of tall windows in French properties, I have started sourcing old pairs in good vintage condition here and in France as not everyone can sew their own.

Yes, you can have them made to measure and but that is very expensive due to the amount of material, labour and time required for proper hand finishing.  Vintage ones are an affordable option and tick lots of boxes for me; the response on Etsy to the curtains I have listed to date suggests a market out there. And I can post them safely anywhere in the world, unlike our restored & refinished furniture!

If you are making yourself, you really don’t have to pay top whack for fabrics. This length of Voyage embroidered linen was a 99p ebay find. As was this unusual and screamingly 30’s little embroidery destined for a cushion cover.

1930 embroideryvoyage linen








Find of the week, however, has to be these very old brackets , designed to hang a heavy tapestry on a pole. From a French château of course.But certainly simple enough for the hovel.img_20170303_091712

Yes you can stabilise patina and verdigris so it doesn’t come off on your 17th century Jacobean wool embroidered hangings.Details…Details….


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More paint ideas

Rustic French dining room Back on the subject of walls, here is  an atypical French house I have seen featured in several interiors magazines in France. It has parallels with our project in that although the house is twice the size of our place, many of the rooms are small and a lot of thought has gone into painting and furnishing these restricted spaces.

I like the fact the the home-owners are brave enough to use colours and although the red/brown painted beams are not to my taste, the historically authentic pale greens, yellows and blues certainly are.

Old French house Another aspect I like is the fearless introduction of  reclaimed pieces that work perfectly. At first glance one would think that massive stone fireplace is original. It isn’t!

I salute their chutzpah..& did you notice the use of marble/terrazzo skirting boards? see here

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The Romance of the Raw – mixing it up in the salon

wp-image-1033776276jpg.jpgIf you have been following this blog you will know that I have been doing my best to preserve the old lime plaster walls and ceilings we still have at the French house .We have to accept that some walls have areas of plaster missing ( the upper staircase) and a decision on how to run with this is yet to be made.

It may be thought  that the best way forward would be to uniformly plaster the walls, damaged and sound alike, to present a homogenous surface in each space;

Gill the Perverse is, of course, not going down that route!

As we start to add back or add in old architectural pieces and structural features, and carefully chosen new (but traditional) materials, we see the coherency these are bringing to the project.

Locating these pieces has taken me over a decade of sourcing materials-some blindly intuitive, some obviously authentic, most a mad leap of faith on my part- but now we see that our organic way of restoring is working with the house’s old bones in a good way.

PS the pound shop sequin spattered nets went up as a joke. They are so gratuitously ironic I may have to find them a spot somewhere.

The walls? well, I have studied each one individually to see where we can preserve the original and the truly old that we still have. In the two spaces where, between us and the neighbour, we have a breeze block wall overlaid with hideous paper & no lime plaster to carefully preserve, I consider that I have a free hand in deciding how to treat these areas.Paint and wax is the way forward.

Doing things this way means we will have more than one wall finish in each individual room  and that is absolutely fine by me , though Trevor and many of our friends have grave doubts about whether this is the sensible approach.

window corner after

window corner after

Trevor is coming around; he almost always does (he recently announced that he thinks he is developing L.O.C (Late Onset Creativity) The fact that he stands back and lets me indulge in my flights of decorative fancy just underlines the fact that he is basically a saint to put up with me.

I was told a while back that I am approaching this project like a decorator; I don’t think that’s quite right; a decorator would be more organised and more assertive.
I think I’m approaching our house as I would a large canvas, organically, with an artist’s palette . Part long, slow and contemplative. Part spontaneous.

I’m not unique, see below.. from and




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Bang Crash Wallop

demolition Fremch housePoshbirdy is  having bits of her French house ripped apart. For sound and sensible reasons and with a purpose; but it does not make it any easier for the sensitive restorer. I know- left

I remember the feelings I had when this happened Chez Nous and how  I fretted about what it would do to the old bones of our hovel when we had to wade through thick 14thc stone spine wall to make the necessary access point doorways so the two sides of the house would finally work together.

I talked to the house; I apologised; I hugged it better. It’s forgiven me now but was in a right strop at the time.

Big, Tough Trev, who never admits to unmanly weakness, confessed out of the blue yesterday that he has worried about damaging the house every single time he drills, saws, hammers, chisels, and knocks out anything in there. But then how can you do a sensitive restoration or renovation if you don’t feel it?

I truly don’t think that you can. My heart & my support goes out to you Posh.

Fellow Reno- Blog buddies- you may not suffer the extreme house empathy that I did but it will still stop you in your tracks sometimes when you see this stuff happening to your house.

Is it better to be there to supervise ? Yes , Yes and thrice Yes!  I know…

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Episode 151 Part 2 – “I name this bath…….”

wp-image-1340999003jpg.jpgI have actually named my long sought after bathtub.

It’s practically a member of the family now. Though maybe I wouldn’t leave a member of the family all alone in a dark garage surrounded by junk. Trevor suspects  (not without grounds) that if I could get it upstairs by myself I might even have hauled it up to our bedroom so I can gaze upon it with awe at least twice a day.

Back to more earthly musings; I have been looking at creating a wet room rather than just a washroom in the cave in France.  The little room built to replace the old toilet area and access from the hall is too small to fit in a large sized  raised shower tray along with toilet and basin, but creating a seamless wet room in there would work .

We need this option, as the existing granite walled shower area in the second floor bathroom is fairly petite in dimensions. Fine for most ladies but Trev and the son-in-law tend to spill out a bit…

“First fix” plumbing and pipework already in; running to the other side of the wall where the bath will sit.  I have been looking at tanking etc- and of course this MUST be new and fully fit for purpose; and this product from the Wickes chain in the UK is eco-friendly, made from recycled materials and carbon neutral.

eco friendly wet room membraneI have always been happy with anything I’ve bought from Wickes so I’m confident it will do the job.

Oh, and the bath? well she’s female (of course) and is now known as Bathsheba Everdene. What else?

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Episode 151- Ma baignoire îlot

baignoire ilot roll top bathIf someone had told me that this was a “Baignoire îlot” in French it would have saved much explanation when I was discussing the slipper bath I wanted for the cave with My French Plumber.

Anyhow, hard to find (and eyewateringly expensive if you do) in the Aude. So the plumber said “buy it in the UK & I’ll get the fittings here”

So I looked at new ones ; and a friend who fits out bathrooms in buy-to-let properties said ” don’t buy a cheap one, they won’t last”  which put “new” out of our budget range.

So I trawled and trawled mainly on ebay, for a high quality used one exactly the right size (1520 mm)  and wide enough for large gentlemen’s shoulders and without exception , they all went for silly money. Till this week, when I found this beauty, bid and bought it for £46.50 and the lovely seller even delivered it for £20….win,win!

When it arrived I was even more excited when I saw the quality and the aesthetically pleasing proportions and shape and it even has the waste  (more money saved) and the fact that it’s cast iron ball and claw feet are ever so slightly rusted in places but still solid . I am fully aware that the last observation would have most folk running away; but not me.

You either get that or you don’t. So it’s now in the overstuffed UK garage awaiting transport to it’s new  spot where it will languish on reclaimed tiles at an arty angle in the cave bedroom.

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Architectural ironmongery – and four more for Friday

img_20170217_095309Wise words for French house restorers, with a wider message I think.

I am not of any traditional religious persuasion myself but I found this piece of embroidery from a Welsh Chapel; presumably it hails from a period when the translation of biblical texts into the Welsh language was not deemed necessary. I like it anyway.

Back to Architectural Ironmongery. This is my latest ebay recreational obsession.

These rustic gems right- will no doubt find a home on one of our projectsimg_20170216_094723

And I found a source of traditional antique iron hinges and handles which we have utilised on a disintegrating blanket box which we have just rescued. I love these butterfly hinges and may use them on a cupboard at the French house.


architectural ironmongeryvintage painted blanket box


These toile de Jouy curtains are just for you, Bev; more photos on our etsy shop- top right

toile de jouy curtains

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