Get the French Look

Tara Dennis and Rita Hill worked together to add some finishing touches to our French makeover. Tara went treasure hunting at The Bower, while Rita started work on the garden sheds.

Shopping at The Bower

Don and Tara looked through an inspirational book called ‘Les Couleurs de la France’, and used it to put together a ‘wish’ list of items for the makeover. Tara went shopping at The Bower Re-Use and Repair Co-operative in Marrickville, Sydney. In no time at all she found hand-forged hinges for Don’s barn door ($75 each), iron lace work for the shed wall ($20), an old lamp ($10), an old hand mower ($35) and a box of very worn pots for $5. She also found some old fruit boxes to use as nesting boxes for the chooks.

Below is a list of just some of the many stores and co-operatives around Australia where you can go to find pre-loved treasures. (Tip: remember, bargaining is part of the fun when shopping for secondhand bric-a-brac.)

Shed windows

Rita attached strips of timber moulding to the shed windows to match the French doors in the house. The strips were glued on using Liquid Nails. (Tip: make sure the moulding is thin enough so that you can still open the window.) She then painted the shed walls with two coats of Limeproof Undercoat Sealer, followed by one coat of sandstone coloured limewash over the top. (Tip: wash the walls down with sugar soap before painting.)

Garage wall

Besser Blocks don’t really fit in with our French country design, so Tara rendered the garage wall using a 4:1 mix of yellow brickies sand and off-white cement. (Tip: on hot days, add more water to make application easier.)

Tara’s render mix is a soft, ochre colour, but you can change the colour of your render mix by adding oxide pigment from the hardware store. You can also vary the finish by applying the render with a towel, hessian bag, sponge or broom.

Cafe setting

With a few simple paint techniques and a little elbow grease, Tara transformed a cheap table and two chairs into an authentic-looking, French cafe setting. She followed these easy steps:

1. Make sure the furniture is clean and dry.
2. Apply one coat of exterior white acrylic paint. Allow to dry.
3. Apply one coat of Bristol ‘Fern Tip’ exterior paint.
4. While the ‘Fern Tip’ is still tacky, paint the entire setting with Pascol ‘Norfolk Green’ exterior paint.
5. Paint with Porter’s Liquid Iron Base. Allow to dry.
6. Apply a coat of Porter’s Instant Rust. (Tip: wear gloves and make sure there is adequate ventilation when using these products.)
7. When satisfied with the effect, coat with clear lacquer to stop the rusting process.


Shed windows

Timber mouldings come in 2.4 metre lengths. Prices range from $6 to $12 per linear metre.
Liquid Nails, $5 for a 350gm tube.
Porter’s Limeproof Undercoat Sealer, $55 for 4 litres. Available from hardware stores and Porter’s outlets. For more information visit the website:
Murowash sandstone finish, $79 for 4 litres. Ring Murobond for your closest outlet – Toll free 1800 199 299.

Garage wall

Yellow bricklaying sand, $7-$8 for a 30kg bag
Off-white cement, $11-$12 for a 40kg bag
Cement oxide pigments, $12-$15 for 1kg bag, $35-$45 for 2kg bag