Transformation of the Guest Room

(Note: This story was first published on June 24, 2016.)

The guest room at Le Bijou really needed new beds, more than anything else. The beds that we inherited were fine for a kid’s overnight camp and, well…enough said. The room also lacked any sense of personality.IMG_1506.jpg

Before 7 copy.jpg


On a trip to one of our favorite antique shops, we spotted this gorgeous set of hand carved walnut, upholstered beds. The headboards, footboards and side rails were in perfect condition. They just needed to be reupholstered. We took measurements, since antique beds are never the size of contemporary mattresses, and we debated alternatives for mattress solutions for about two weeks. Finally, we couldn’t stand waiting anymore…we just went ahead and bought the beds!


Jack removed hundreds of these tacks – not easy prying them out of hardwood.


We had found this lovely striped toile at La Foire aux Tissues (Fabric Fair), a shop about 15 minutes from our house. I was able to reupholster the head and footboards right over the original horsehair padding, which was still in great shape. Even with an electric staple gun, it was a challenge working with such hard wood.



Gluing gimp over the staples. (I had brought two bottles of fabric glue from the US).


Our solution to the mattress problem? We ended up buying two double size mattresses, cutting them open, cutting down the foam inside, and resewing them closed. These beds are actually extra-large twins – almost double bed size. Apparently beds back in the day were not standard sizes, the way they are now.


Jack hanging the ciel-de-lit (one of two antiques we had found at the beginning of our trip), on a very off-kilter wall – while I stood back, trying to figure out what “looked centered”.


For the ciel-de-lit, we first upholstered the top inside. Then I hung the drapes, which I had sewn out of a wonderful two-sided & double-width quilted fabric that Jack had fallen in love with. The fabric was so heavy, Jack had to hold it up for me, while I worked.


One of the “odd, yet charming” features to this room is that the back wall, is not straight. It runs to the corner at an alarmingly distinct angle, making it hard to center anything on it – especially the placement of the ciel-de-lit drapery. Our original calculations ended up feeling wrong, so despite the fact that the whole thing was incredibly heavy, Jack nicely rehung the ensemble, to make it look like it was on center. It’s just darn lucky he knows how to do rigging and tie knots, from his youth spent on sailboats!


I used the original window drapes from the guest room as a lining for the new fabric.
When the sun shines through first thing in the morning, it bathes the room in a beautiful coral glow.


Hanging the window drapery.



We had brought with us lots of fabrics, including this rather worn French bedding we had
used in our old master bedroom. The quilt, having seen better days (and many times through the washing machine) was no longer usable as a bed cover, so it became a tablecloth.


We finished the guest room by adding some antique lamps we found in nearby Pézenas,
and topping them with beautiful French toile shades, that I had actually been saving for years, for just the right spot. It is traditional in French decorating, to mix fabric patterns, especially a variety of toiles in the same color family. We combined new fabrics with old ones we had brought with us.


I found this darling pillow at Jolie Marché, on Etsy.


Finished for now… The first thing I want to do when we go back to Montagnac in the Fall, is to find candlesticks for the mantles, pictures for the walls and knick-knacks to make the bedrooms look and feel homey. Next on the agenda after that – reupholster these two chairs.

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