I didn’t really want to mention the Coronavirus but this lock- in period hasn’t really caused us any inconvenience apart from having to slightly rearrange projects to deal with a few material shortages. The French brico stores are open but we are limiting our visits and the small local ones are closed. Generally the French are sticking to the rules and leaving social gaps in-store and wearing gloves and often, masks. We bought heavy duty masks for whole face but due to lack of availability, making disposable masks for quick shop visits ourselves. Basically heavy duty paper towel with a sanitary pad insert. A wear once solution that’s better than nothing. Still waiting for spare filters for the other masks but the shortage has hit Amazon and better the filters go to the more needing.
So it’s projects while we can. Generally we have an accumulation of timber and paint ready, copious supplies of white spirit and sand paper. I even bought two pallets worth of paint back from the UK last year. Friends are getting a little bored stuck in surburbia but in deep rural France it’s very much as it was. Even the supermarkets are full of food. No mass frenzied bulk strip out of shelves here, as in UK. It’s all very civilized.
With the stay in evenings what better task than cleaning the second hand Brocante leather sofa in the snug room. Picked up for a snip at €175, the right sage green for our Scottish influenced interior. My grandfather’s family, Alexander’s, came from Dunoon and worked on the Clyde barges. Hard working and stubborn, it’s a family trait. Just before the war half the family emigrated to Canada. The rest came to London. So the nod to my ancestry suited the farmhouse heavy beamed interior and this cosy dark space beneath the gallery.
The sofa emitted an unidentifiable aroma and was full of grit and old dust. Greasy patches from hair oil and too many other sources had turned the sage green into a sludgy mud green. Some of the leather has cracked but happily most is simply dirty. The main timber structure with reed woven sides, colonial style are imaculate and no work needed on those. Armed with my trusty cleaner and leather restorer and many interruptions from Bella trying to grab the cloth, it came up ok.
Leather Honey is my favorite product for cleaning and nourishing the hide. It goes a long way. Mix a teaspoon worth with a litre of hot water and rub vigorously. Pat dry and after a couple of hours rub sparingly over with the protector. Buff the next day to a soft sheen.
The final restoration will be to remake the saggy seat cushions and probably recover one with some old leather we have and the arms too. We collected about 40 hide skins from a well known manufacture in Rochester, Kent, who supplied to Chanel. We were designing perfume bottles and wanted leather for the coverings. The business didn’t materialize and the leather was put in storage for hopefully new projects.
Before finding the Brocantes we bought a sofa from a furniture store in town. Ok it’s comfy with adjustable back cushions but it cost a whopping €1500! Its found a home in our barn where the decor has a modern twist and we love it, but with four properties, that sort of cost is no go.
In total we managed to source five more sofas for under €600 in total. All leather and three of them were three seaters. It’s a bit of luck on the day of visit as the stock changes weekly but you can leave a description of what you need with the owners and honestly I need to get my Brocante fix weekly as much as I need my tea!
What are you working on at home whilst the lock-in is in place? Stay safe, stay in and keep blogging!