Design on a Centime – Our Kitchen

Feb 17, 2009 | Parisienne Farmhouse Design | 31 comments

I did have a blog “The Parisienne Farmhouse,” but it has sat neglected for a year.

I was going to chronicle all the before’s and after’s, room to room in our old home. Not happening. Instead, since there has been very kind curiosity expressed about seeing “the rest of the house” I will now, rather infrequently post “Design on a Centime.” It will be a great excuse for me to tidy up a particular room and take photos of it before I get a burr up my tush to re-arrange it once again. I thought I would start with my kitchen since that is where I spend most of my life…

A few years back when I was doing more Interior Design and painting alot more furniture for people, I dubbed “my style” — “Parisienne Farmhouse” (dugh) and I even came up with what I thought was a cute tag line; “Pied-a-terre to Maison de Pierre Chic” – in other words, Paris Apartment to Provence Stonehouse, which like my blog title and the rest of my interests just about sums it up!

For fun (more mine than yours) I will try to dig up the “before” photos and anything that may have inspired me when conjuring up what I wanted a particular room to look like. I will even, as gauche as it may be, tell you how much I paid for a particular item in the hopes that you will not look past even the funkiest of Salvation Armies or Garage Sales this summer. The postings are called “Design on a Centime” because I am notoriously frugal and have been known to ponder even a $35 purchase for months. I do believe this pays off in two ways; One, I really have created an environment that pleases me and I have been able to do it with no guilt, Two, I love French style and TRUE French style is that of a collected, gathered look. I have yet to be in a French home where it looks like they walked into some tacky furniture showroom, looked at a display room and said, “Je le prend” (“I’ll take it!”) and while, in many cases it takes years for me to get the look I am going for and can do it VERY inexpensively and always have something to look forward too.
Most of the readers in this blog circle have some pretty incredible style and taste, I visit your blogs, I click on your links so it is humbly that I invite you to enjoy…

Our kitchen “before.”

These first few photos (above) were my inspiration for my kitchen. For my tastes the best design magazines are the French ones, all the Cotes (nord, sud, ouest and l’est!) Maison et Decors and Maison et Travaux. These Provencal kitchens are amazing and advertised all over the magazines. The bathroom shown here from one of the magazines has a wonderful, water color like vine of lemons and they and the napkin from Monoprix in Paris were the inspiration for my painted olives along my ceiling…

In the foreground one of two TDF terra cotta Italian pots that were my Great Grammas. Oh, if they were in better condition! They look cool this way but are very prone to chipping. In the background, a milk container from my Grandpas barn with the name of their town on it. It was horribly rusted… nothing a little blue spray paint and a wire brush couldn’t fix!

Sausage tin advertising the old food market area of Paris:Les Halles. I found this at the Puces de Vanves in Paris.

Two German relief prints – box lot from an auction in my Gramma’s town. So sweet on my window.

Years ago this was a galley kitchen. This is where the fridge made it’s home. Now it’s my dishes pantry though I dream of glass containers full of all my spices, flour and sugar…the recycle pin, sewing machine and root veggies are hid by the curtain. The porch post is from my Grandparents farmhouse.


I dream of a real ironstone collection, but for now Target does the trick.



One of three “French” prints I have that I love so much. The other two are more formal and find their home on the front porch. But this one, well, those cabbages about put me over the edge. Never mind the adoration being bestowed to the cook!



Now this was a twelve dollar purchase that was not hard for me! I fell in love with this vintage double boiler and it’s funky little art deco knob!

The two pictures above:
Aidan’s blue “standing stool” – no sooner do I start to cook than he is dragging it over to the counter to “help.” I found this porch post at a barn sale and put it here because the fridge is 15 years old and NOT counter depth. When you walked in the back door you could see it peeking out from the wall, the porch post adds a good 5 inches to the wall and now my ugly fridge can not be seen when you walk in. That little orange shade, well has fond memories for me. I was walking out of the building portion at the Clingnancourt market in Paris when I look down and saw a huge pile of silk, wonderful, ratty lampshades on the floor. I could only buy two on account of the fact that I had only one empty suitcase to fill and take home… I love it so much. But can you tell yet that just about everything I have makes my heart beat fast?
I’m a love it or hate it kind of girl.

With leftover wainscoting from a kitchen we had just finished for a client we lined the inside of one our our cabinets after removing the doors and the support piece in the middle. The tops are still screaming for crown molding – something we have just never gotten around to. I love the items in this cabinet – the copper is a combination of gifts and flea market finds, the blue books are from a series on French history and the little “Beurre” dish is from the marché aux puces : Clingnancourt.

I love the Chinoise theme of this little sugar bowl. It picks up the idea of my backsplash and sink curtains and a couple other Chinoise plates-n-stuff around the room.


Joie de Vivre: I’ve got it. I want more.



Dollar something curtains from the thrift store (recent gift from mom since I can’t swing three more Anthropologie towels like the ones over the sink. The corbels add character to this weird little nook, the Boulangerie sign thrills me and the horizontal porch post above? From Grandpa’s barn – still with pigeon poop on it!


This was one of those purchases that I hemmed and hawed over for about a year until finally the owner of my favorite junk store screamed at me, “Just buy it already!” I am so glad I did, I use it EVERY day.

I love copper and wish I had taller ceilings, if I did I would hang them from some wonderful rack over my counter. I did find a cool hanging copper “dish” with hooks that I do hang my copper from. That big pot on the left of this photo, I found it at Vanves too. I stalked the poor dealer until he sold it to me for 65 Euro (he had it priced 90). I carried it back to my apartment with pride! Those little ones are little cheapies from World Market – a store where you can in fact find some goodies if you have the patience to search thru all the Buddhas and Asian trinkets.

These little prints were a gift from my neighbor – she was spring cleaning and decided she was done with them. One man’s junk… I think they are wonderful and the blue and white vases in each photo are amazing. You can’t see it but the vase on the left is the coolest Grecian scene…the blue and white curtain hides a two shelf area where we keep our shoes. We call it the “boot box.”

Another favorite vintage piece – a roaster from Mom. The tile is all hand painted by yours truly. The little squiggle design is one that if you look closely you will see in many old french tiles and the Chinoise scene is a replica of the one on the dishtowels from Anthropologie. Everyone always asks so I’ll tell you: the tiles are painted with glass paint and then fired in the stove, the painting portion of the project took 8 hours. Painting tiles for peoples kitchens is something I would sincerely enjoy doing more of: I dream of provencal lavender fields and roads with tall and pointy cyrpus trees…fruit baskets, the possiblities are endless. The idea to blue and white tile my kitchen was inspired by Monet’s kitchen at Giverny.

The walls in our kitchen are a custom color of Venetian plaster. However, they are not highly burnished as I did not want them to look too shiny in my somewhat rustic kitchen.

I do think the harsh lines of this chalkboard are a little severe, I can never decide if putting a vintage frame around it would be to cliché or if I should frame it out with more tiles or what…and do I drop that “e” since “printemps” is masquline? The trumeau to the left is one my favorite things AND I made it out of a 100 year old mirror…

Last but not least, the lighting and a word about the cabinets…
I wanted matching chandeliers so bad for this kitchen…a bit of the “Parisienne” to balance out the “Farmhouse”…I was willing to wait years to find the perfect, affordable pair. Then one day my brother-in-law invited us over; he was cleaning out his basement before a big move. He gave me these beautiful matching lights, all I had to do was clean them (not fun) and have them re-wired (not cheap) but they are amazing, with strange, almost sea shell shaped crystals. He got them “on the job” being given away from an old building on Lake Shore Drive… how cool is that? They are each on dimmers and are magical full blast or barely lit.
The cabinets in this kitchen are hand-me-downs installed by a previous owner, she had painted them green. A color I really can’t stand. We painted them and glazed them which led to a newspaper article about that part of our business (we could use another one of those!). I love them, even five years later. The hood above the stove is faux, we don’t use a microwave so I am only to happy to yank out a perfectly good one and replace it with my charming hood. Someday I will actually have a custom made exhaust fan but for now, we are managing just fine. I will probably take it with me if we ever move!
I love our kitchen. It’s hodgepodge, screaming with potential
(can you imagine a farm sink?). It’s the heart of our home.


  1. Laura Trevey

    Love your Photos!!
    Have a great day…

  2. Parisienne Farmgirl

    What a riot – I got a comment while I was editing out a few typos-n-stuff. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Farmgirl Cyn

    Insanely sweet. Just as I remember.
    The kitchen really IS the heart of the home, and how much better to spend all that time in a room you are in love with?

  4. Victoria

    Someday, someday maybe I’ll have a kitchen worth taking photos of. Sadly, this old icky one (though functional) is NOT pretty and not worth fixing up when you rent. Although if we had nicer landlords (and I had the money) I would have painted and re-done a lot of it for free! Needless to say I’m looking forward to the next place…

    I have always loved your kitchen and told my mom, before she visited, that she’d love it, too. And she did! You know, the yellow and blue are Swedish colors and what she wants her kitchen to be, ultimately, though she’s not sure how. Maybe she’ll let me help???

  5. Carolyne

    What a hoot reading about your collections……. And the bit about your yearning for a year to buy something?… are so much like me in that regard.
    I have had such a great time *finding* my treasures for my home……never expensive, NEVER from retail furniture stores and never what is expected. But, when you put years of life in it it becomes Yours and it holds your memories.
    I am so glad I had the example from my Mum of using “old things” to make do and evolve my rooms over time.
    Love to read your blog :o)
    ((hugs)) to you~ ❤ Carolyne

  6. Life in the 'Burbs

    I forgot about the GREEN cabinets!! How could I have forgotten??? Hilarious…..

  7. cityfarmer

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Joni

    I LOVED your kitchen photos. You are sublimely creative! And I love that you are frugal, too! There’s lots of us out here…just not the government! We need to teach them a thing or two! Anyway, just LOVELY. I think your place looks like an inn that I would love to pull a chair up to the table and visit! How long did this whole transformation take? And, is this in an already old house or did you make it look that way? Sorry so many questions, but we’re getting ready to do a kitchen…gotta know these things!

  9. Parisienne Farmgirl

    Ouch Mom! That was almost painful!
    Hello? Are you forgetting my crazy vintage ensembles I would try to wear to church and the fighting that would ensue?
    I always loved my antique furniture and never bugged you guys for anything new/modern except a hot pink telephone (my de-vine right as a 14 year old!) I mean come on, it’s not like I was asking for a black laquer bedroom set from Art Van Furniture!
    Have you forgotten my worship of Heather my babysitter that collected hordes of antique jewelry, how I would feel when she would bring down all those boxes to show us? Or how about those crazy Jacobsons rhinestone studded shoes (a hot pink AND a black pair) that I used to wear from a garage sale? Oh, the ridicule from my friends…I loved it!!! BTW, I saw Audrey Hepburn wearing them in photograph one time so I still say “poo poo” just like Madeleine did to anyone who made fun of me!
    In Jr. High and High school my energy might have been focused more towards fashion than decor but it was always, always, vintage thanks to you!

    Most of this house dates from 1840-1870 or so I have been told by the society in town, there is an addition that, according to some wallpaper we removed is from 1939. The kitchen is a little of both.
    As far as how long it took, once I picked up the trowel to do the Venetian Plaster I was unstoppable, the cabinets were painted shortly thereafter. Then a few years later I did the tile, besides a couple things the accessories have all been gathered in the last 6 years.
    And, what a compliment – about the “inn” – nothing thrills me more than to have someone sitting at my counter.

  10. Joannah

    I love it! I’m on my way over for a latte. 😉

  11. martha

    Thank you, thank you! I had asked for more kitchen pictures, then waited with anticipation. These FAR exceeded my expectations. I hope these pictures are shared far and wide – they definitely would be a marvelous advertisement of your work.

  12. Cathy

    Thank you for posting pics of your kitchen. You all have done a wonderful job remodeling. Great taste!

    I love the two floral prints that your neighbor gave you.


  13. Stephanie H.

    Your kitchen is beautiful and it does have that vintage look of items collected over time. it makes it looks so inviting and comfortable. I like the posts you’ve used and the copper pots. Nice job.

  14. LaurenFaythe

    What a cozy house you have! I love it that you have stories behind so many items. Thanks for posting your pictures.

  15. Rosie's Whimsy

    Thanks for the inspiration. I love what you have done … especially the nook where your old frig was kept. It is so cool to have those big deep shelves for not only storage but beautiful storage!

  16. Victoria

    By the way, my dear Frenchie, that middle dress is MINE… of course, there’s a wee $6000 standing between it and me, so if you get there first I can’t blame ya 🙂

    As for me, I’ll be looking for a knock-off via forever 21…

    ps. I hate leaving a comment that has nothing to do with the post! argh!

  17. Berlin Deluxxe

    This is just plain gorgeous! I love what you did to your kitchen!

  18. Nancy

    Oh I love you kitchen! It is very French! You ask me about that balloon chandi in one of the pictures of the post I just did..well, I don’t have any idea where you could get one! It is exquisite! Very unique! I wish you good luck in finding one and let me know if you do! Blessings, Nancy

  19. Cottage Remnant

    What a delight to tour your kitchen….I can see why you like to spend so much time in there….magazine girl, magazine…

  20. Cynthia's Cottage Design

    Oh your kitchen is simply FAB-U-LOUS!! the attention to detail and authenticity to French Country design is superb!! I could move right in 🙂 You did a stunning job on it!!

    I adore every detail and every nook and cranny! it is so filled with perfect vignettes and accessories, it would take an hour to comment on each one :)!! Lets just say: It’s a True work of Art, and one of my favorite kitchens on a blog!! Beautiful!

    Hugs, Cynthia

  21. Aunt Julee

    I’m with Victoria on leaving comments that have nothing to do with the post … but

    Sometimes I long for simple scrapbooking and Sidetracked Home Executive days, at other times I wouldn’t trade my computer for all the tea in the boston harbor.

    nstead of going anywhere the last 3 days, I made this

    If you want to cry first and then laugh watch them in order.

    We will come and sit in your kitchen soon.

  22. Manic Mom

    I love your pictures. This is a Dream kitchen & a Beautiful space to live in. I’m so happy to have found your blog today.

  23. Anne Marie

    SERIOUSLY? THAT is your kitchen??
    you have a gift farmgirl!

    where’s the videos?? searching…..searching…..

  24. Debbie in CA : )

    Loved the tour. I was salivating after a croissant and cafe au lait! You did a marvelous job of dreaming and making it come true. : D

  25. Corbels

    The kitchen looks great. I’m loving the color your chose for the walls, not too dark or light…just right.

    Great home.


  26. mimi charmante

    Love your kitchen reno (especially your fabulous blue finds on your stovetop!). What a marvelous site – I could spend far too much time just meandering through your posts…

  27. Berlin Deluxxe

    THAT IS IT! The color of cabinets is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Is that a tinted glaze finish? I love it! Do tell….

  28. *The Beautiful Life*

    Wait a minute…you don’t use your microwave??? What’s your secret?

    Mine is used hands-down three times more than my large oven, so now I’m kinda feelin’ like a slacker. 🙂

    GREAT kitchen post! I, too, love the color of the cabinets MUCH better now! Is it difficult to paint cabinets? I have been dying to paint mine for 8 years now, but I’m terrified of trying it.

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen!!


  29. Kim F

    When the pics of those cabinets loaded I let out an audible gasp. LOVE them! well done!

  30. Terri Grimm

    I feel I was transported back 15 years ago when I was working at Sherwin Williams Paint Store and Hobby Libby that I fell in love with a French Country decorating.
    Your kitchen reminded me of my faux yellow sponged walls and fabrics that I have
    Collected over the years. I also fell in love with copper and had to get as much
    as much as I could fit in my kitchen. I also did faux tiles similar to your blue and white but in yellow. I have since redone my kitchen and my style now is coastal French. I have an addiction to blue &white so someday I will have my kitchen done
    With new cabinets. I still have my French grey-blue cabinets from years ago.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Posts

Blog Categories

Archives by Date