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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

White Paint & French Details in the Master Bath

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking around the house,
looking with a new perspective,
I am re-evaluating the overall look of the house.
 Comparing my existing artwork, decorative items,
linens, plants, planters, drawer pulls, and light fixtures
with French looking items gives me ideas of how
I want to change the details in my house so
the house has a decided French feel.

A French-Inspired Garden and Home
is the look I love and want to recreate in my own home.

As changes were made to the master bathroom this summer,
I looked for ways to give it an even more French feel. 

At the end of spring, way back in early May, 
I decided the master bathroom needed some changes. 
What began with making the vanity drawer space more usable 
kept expanding to more and more changes. 

You know how that goes... one thing leads to many others. 

Lavender Touches - Bath Decor
The two large drawers on each end of the master vanity no longer 
seemed like a good idea as I struggled to open them and then struggled 
to find what I was looking for inside the large top drawers. 
We re-used the original drawer fronts and cut them into 
the two smaller drawer fronts. 

Compare the photos.... 
The first photo is how the vanity looks now in September after changes, 
the second photo is during the transition this summer, and 
the third photo is how the vanity looked in May before any changes. 

A small-sized drawer and a medium-sized drawer now 
take the place of the former large top drawer on each end of the vanity. 
Best of all, all of the drawers have new glides that make them so much easier to open. 

The most noticeable change is the new white paint. 
The wooden ceiling with exposed beams makes the room darker 
than a room with a painted sheetrock ceiling. 

The white painted cabinets help make the room brighter 
and reflect the light from both the light fixtures and the sunlight 
streaming in through the shuttered window. 
The hardest part to paint was the toe space at the bottom  
because of the weird angle I had to hold my arm. 
It became much easier to paint after I put down painter's tape on the floor tile. 

New white painted wrought iron drawer pulls add a French look 
because they have a raised curved botanical pattern that has 
a fleur-de-lis look. 
Not only do all of the drawers have drawer pulls, 
but a pull was also added to the center fixed raised panel below the sink. 

The drawer pulls are from Hobby Lobby and were bought during one 
of the periodic half-price sales on drawer pulls. 
Rust-Oleum Heirloom White spray paint made painting the pulls so easy. 

I think the vanity looks more like French furniture now. 
What do you think? 

Once the structural changes were made to the vanity to give it 
a French design and better usability, I then focused on accessories. 

I love French lavender plants, but they need to grow outside. 
When it came time to replace the lavender plant that was on the vanity, 
I found a live double topiary at Walmart. 
One of the main distinctions between French and English gardens 
is the French create sculpted, manicured lawns, trees, and flower gardens, 
whereas the English create free-form, blowsy landscapes. 

After transplanting the topiary from the small plastic pot to 
a larger French-styled Guy Wolff clay pot, I kept the plant outside 
on the deck in the shade to help it become more established. 
From time to time, I clipped new shoots to maintain the original shape. 

So, what to do with the white oval planter that formerly held the lavender? 
Use it as hand towel and bath cloth holder! 

The perfect size and shape to keep towels and bath cloths handy near the sink. 

Two French fragrances sit beside the sink. 
Williams-Sonoma French Lavender hand soap, half price at their outlet stores, 
releases a light lavender fragrance each time I wash my hands. 
Close your eyes, and you are walking through a lavender field in Provence.

Lancôme's Ô de l'Orangerie spray eau de toilette has a light citrus-y scent. 
Close your eyes, and you are walking in a "serene French garden." 

The new smaller drawers are just the right size to hold more French Lancôme 
and other toiletries that previously sat on a tray atop the vanity. 

French chateaux in the Loire Valley are among my favorite places 
to visit whenever I am in France. 

Framed prints of Chambord and Chenonceau Chateaux 
hang beneath a small clay fleur-de-lis with a small ivory 
ribbon visually connecting the fleur-de-lis and the two prints. 

One of the most economical souvenirs of French chateaux is 
small colored prints sold at the gift shops on the grounds of each chateau. 

Plus, small cards are easy to pack in a suitcase and do not weigh much at all. 
Two real factors in souvenir shopping are bulk and weight and become 
more and more important the longer you are in France. 
Heavy suitcases do not make for a fun trip! 

Once home, you can frame the prints using pre-made inexpensive frames like 
these beautiful blue and gold carved frames from Michaels. 

A close-up photo of the Chenonceau print shows the beautiful details and 
colors in this inexpensive print of my favorite French chateau. 
For several years these two prints hung over a desk in a guest room, 
but are now perfect hanging at the end of the master vanity. 

Remember... one thing leads to another? 
A quick trip through HomeGoods this summer, and 
I found this white textured washable cotton rug 
that is the perfect size in front of the vanity. 
I wasn't looking for a rug, 
but could not pass up this great find. 
The white rug is another way to lighten the room. 

I love the massive wooden beams that are the structure of the house 
and do not plan to change their color, but I sure do like how the white painted 
vanity and new white rug help brighten the bathroom. 

In case you are wondering, the cracks in the beams are not a structural problem. 
Our house was built from new northern pine, and the sawmill architects 
assured us that it is normal for the wood to crack as it shrinks, 
for up to seven years! 
For those first seven years it was not unusual to be awakened 
in the middle of night from a loud CRACKing sound. 
For the past twenty years, no more loud cracking, 
just contracting and expanding a little all during the year 
depending upon temperature and humidity. 

Now I'm looking at the medium blue painted bead board and thinking, 
"A light blue like the walls would be nice." 

One thing always leads to another. 


Blog Elevated Conference 
Round Top Antiques Fair

Fun times just around the corner... 
If you are going to either one, 
let me know, so we can say, "Hi," and 
maybe have a Coke and piece of pie together. 

Please join me at these inspiring sites...




  1. C'est parfait, ta maison! OH JUDITH, OUI, OUI!

    There is that Je ne sais quoi about the French look that takes a while to examine and reproduce in one's home. You have captured it here. You are fortunate that you have exposed beams because that is a HUGE plus. The white paint on the cabinets has completed the look.

    Does your entire house have exposed beams? We just had some put into our great room and my husband's office. I knew what color I wanted them, but we were unable to find the right color of STAIN before the installation, so we opted for the lightest stain available, and though I love them (especially in my husband's office), I now know how to get the white-washed look, and that's with Annie Sloan antique white paint. My husband is all for me trying it! The beams looks wonderful, and it DOES take some tweaking to get that real French look.

    I figure that in my observations, the French themselves use a lot of elements from NATURE. Plants, pottery, metal and wood - with these elements, we can't go wrong to create the look that makes us feel comfortable, amidst a touch of elegance. Also, linens and vintage pieces really add.


  2. What a beautiful bathroom. I admire you in decorating your house the way you like it vs keeping what is popular on the market. My hubbie would never agree to exposed beams and french decor; But I dearly love my home no matter what style I choose.
    Again your bathroom is gorgeous!!

  3. Your bathroom is just dreamy! I love the blue and's so serene! Those beams on the ceiling are just stunning. What a gorgeous accent!

  4. Judith!
    What a beautiful bathroom makeover!
    You are giving me confidence to paint our super ugly bathroom cabinets!
    I love the texture on the drawer pulls almost as much as I love the beams and cracks in your home!
    Brilliantly done, my friend!

  5. What a great transformation. Love the Frenchy details.

  6. I love it, what a fabulous bathroom and the drawers are a perfect solution. Great makeover. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me.

  7. Judith, I love your bathroom ~ the pretty chair, the topiary and that white rug are such wonderful accent pieces! Hoping your fall has been a good one so far, I'm finally back blogging again.

    xo Mary Jo

  8. Hi Judith. I really like the white vanity, the pulls and the towel rack. It does look very French indeed. I think you are very good with details, and that is why one thing leads to another. You always see the fine print, so to speak; the one more tiny thing that will complete the look. Yes! The room looks open and spacious and I'm sure you enjoy morning and evening routines spent in such a great space. I like beadboard anywhere. The blue is terrific! I enjoyed your post, as always.

  9. Love, love your bathroom. So beautiful and elegant!

  10. Very lovely, Judith! White painted cabinets are a favorite of mine! Our Alabama home had them, but our new home here had wood throughout. Someday, they may be white! Thank you for sharing your beautiful French inspired home with us!

  11. Your bath is beautiful!!! I could be so jealous, but I'm just going to be glad that you have it instead!!
    When you go to RoundTop, you may see a crazy redhead in Zapp Hall, named RedNeck Chic! If you do, be sure to tell her hello for me......she's my dear daughter :^) (she also has some cute "stuph" in her booth :^)
    Blessings to you,

  12. One change always leads to more, Judith! I love those prints and your new topiary. I even love the pot you put the topiary in. I'm always on the look out for nice clay pots like this. Did you happen to find this at Walmart, too?

  13. Judith, I am wowed!!
    As for the white change and more drawers was a beautiful change, loving the natural feel to the older cabinets , I think the white is a cleaner feel to your French living, and me being a fan of whites would of course give you a thumbs up! I love the beams and your washed door, love that the beams and ceiling is in keeping with the French feel, and not wanting to paint them is a good move. You wouldn't want to turn it into a cottage bath, yet just a thought, I would if they were mine, I would white wash them with a white that still is white, but that hint of ironstone grey in it. I would take a wet cloth and wipe it down with primer first, then a wet cloth filled with white paint rubbing the beams and ceiling down with even strokes, if it got to heavy in areas, nothing a 220 sand paper couldn't fix in a matter of seconds rubbing over the heavier areas and adding a bit more age to the beams. Yes a beautifully rustic wash would open the height to the ceilings and bringing the whole room into balance with all that is French rustic.
    Kind of like lime waxing the old wood floors. The rest of the house would still be fine with that natural beams, because your bathroom is a room of its own and doesn't disrupt the flow of the house.

    I love this bathroom, thank you for sharing.



  14. Of I forgot to tell you, I am a designer and artist who have done faux finishes on such type beams giving them that rustic Restoration Weathered washed look to what there washed line of weathered furnishing have taken on. So excuse my ideas, just letting you know if you get a wild thought to wash them, I think you would fall in love with this bathroom of French beauty.




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