Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Making Do

All of my Much-Appreciated-Menfolk are skilled tradesmen, and William has proved himself to be superb at skillfully and speedily hanging doors, (when he eventually gets around to it!) fixing skirting, laying floors and all other manner of joinery jobs that have been thrown at him. 

However he has never been able to truly understand my re-use and re-cycle ethos!

As a result I ended up surrendering to his professional judgement and thus (very) reluctantly, in the interests of peace and progress, discarding some of my ideas for using all reclaimed timber in the renovation of La Petite Maison.

On the other hand, The Elder of the Much-Appreciated-Men-Folk cannot see a piece of scrap wood without feeling the need to rescue it and put it to good use; transforming it into anything from a clock to a guitar. 

Godstone Road

During my teenage years this practice caused occasions of severe embarrassment for me and my cousin. Once the two of us scurried along, red-faced in embarrassment, with our heads bowed, horrified expressions upon our faces, disclaiming all association with him, as regardless of his own safety, he dodged between the cars on the busy Godstone Road, heedless of on-coming cars tooting their horns, in his quest to salvage an item of scrap fallen from a skip lorry onto the road.

It must be said though that he has had many successful finds - rescuing and restoring a very pretty table from the top of a bonfire, and this chair from a skip;

(the old enamel teapot without a lid was found buried in the garden at La Petite Maison, and immediately put to use.

These days however, I am the one diving into skips to rescue potential treasures,
such as this old picture frame

that once painted with some antique white egg-shell paint I transformed into a mirror.

Re-using and re-cycling also came in handy when at the eleventh hour, using an old pair of linen trousers I hastily put together this little bag with corsage to accompany an outfit.

And of course the shed at the allotment was another example of re-cycling.

Once unloved and unwanted, 

with a lick of paint

the little shed now nestles comfortably at the bottom corner of the allotment. 

The website Gumtree has been instrumental in finding  no longer wanted pieces with which to kit out La Petite Maison. 

This old, rather unstylish and extremely cumbersome and heavy fireplace was taken out 

(unfortunately resulting in a hernia for Mr Long-Suffering),

and replaced with a little Art-Nouveau cast iron fireplace that I found on my very first ever search on Gumtree. When purchased and installed the fireplace was black as it would have been originally, but it was soon clear that the intense black colour drained the light from the room and looked very out of place.

So, regardless of the new plaster, it was ruthlessly pulled out again, manoeuvered into the back of my Mini, and taken off to be sand-blasted. After which a few coats of primer and egg-shell paint later, the fireplace was re-installed.

Gumtree was also my source for locating a Belfast sink. Not an original, it must be said, but a brand new sink never used for less than half the retail price.

Some of the old reclaimed granite cobbles that make up the new wall in the front garden 

and line the edge of flower beds around the house came from Gumtree, others were rescued from landfill, (all chipped free of mortar by Yours Truly).

At this point, as she was most anxious to get her photo taken alongside the Gumtree acquired cobbles, I should perhaps introduce you to the new feline addition at La Petite Maison; Molly officially lives further down the road, (one of four cats in her household), but her frequent visits to us have intensified, so much so that she is becoming a permanent fixture. (Honestly, I don't encourage her - but who could help picking up and stroking such a sweet little thing like Molly?)

I digress as usual, now back to Gumtree;

 Of course there have been disappointments too. I could hardly breath in excitement when I found this beautiful old summer seat which exactly fitted the image I had of the seat I had been searching for  to place outside the front of La Petite Maison, surrounded by old roses and lavender....

I was too late! The seat was sold and so my search must continue.

The Elders skills of detailed craftsmanship have been called upon many times, including the restoration of the old French chair, which Francoise bought without viewing from an on-line auction. The battered and broken frame caused Mr Francoise to suck in his breath sharply and sigh in exasperation while we attempted to convince him that with a bit of glue, lick of paint and new upholstery the chair would soon look fabulous.

The chair made it's way to The Elder, who painstakingly made dowels, then glued and cramped the chair frame together, (the repair is virtually invisible)

after which it travelled to la Petite Maison for a spot of sanding and painting. Some cream linen and the chair was transformed and now resides Down Under with Francoise, which is why I unfortunately do not have a photo of the finished restoration project.

(Actually I must now make an amendment to the above statement - 

here is the restored chair, in it's new home Down Under, complete with very comfortable doggy occupant.)

It was only natural then, that when the old floorboards in the back room at La Petite Maison were scheduled to be lifted; eyeing their potential, I called in The Elder who I knew could be trusted to remove each board carefully and meticulously, unlike William who would swiftly tear up the boards in half the time and toss them onto the woodpile for burning.

From the old floorboards, I visualised all sorts of possibilities, 

including making a rustic cabinet for the bathroom.

The Elder did not fail to live up to my expectations and with the wooden frame constructed, I replicated what I had previously done with my armoire 

(otherwise known as my Soaping Cupboard, where I store the herbal ingredients for making my Soaps)

 and lined the inside of the cabinet doors with chicken wire, backed with fabric.

I used the same Vintage blue Roses fabric from Cabbages and Roses that I had used for the bathroom doorstop.

The cabinet was sanded, a lime wash applied to bring out the grain of the wood,

and now resides upon the wall of the bathroom at La Petite Maison.

Not bad for some battered old floorboards?

My next plan for the remaining boards is another cabinet - this time larger and for the kitchen! Time to get the chicken wire out again and to go and see The Elder.


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