Written by Jaymi Naciri
Getting the fixer-upper look doesn’t mean you have to move to Waco and plunk down $100k on a dumpy pad so you can pour another $100k into it, ripping down walls, ripping up floors, and creating a masterpiece out of a piece of junk. But if you’re loving the French country look achieved on HGTV’s Fixer Upper every week, we have a few tips about how to DIY your own stuff or found items and turn your place into a Fixer Upper of the best kind.
Sometimes, creating the ultimate piece of furniture isn’t necessarily what you put on it, but rather what you take off. Sanding is important when painting or refinishing any piece, but when it comes to creating the perfect piece of French country furniture, it’s essential. If you are refinishing a piece and need to start from scratch with a clean surface, here are some sanding tips, courtesy of The Whimsical Wife.
“The first step is to remove any knobs, handles, hinges or hardware attached to the piece. Place these in a bottle with a lid for safe keeping so that the pieces do not get lost. Next sand the piece of furniture to remove any glossy surfaces. I would suggest doing this with an electric sander because if you tried to do it by hand you would be there ALL day long. If you have layers and layers of paint to remove you can try using paint stripper to get the majority of the paint off before going onto sanding back the remaining paint.”
French country is all about imperfect finishes and often those finishes are painted. Have an old table that’s just not doing it for you anymore? A few coats of black paint can transform it into a piece Chip and Joanna Gaines would be proud of.
If you’re looking to pick up a piece as a project, here are a few tips: “The furniture has curved legs and arms, raised panels and filigree work that add beauty to the piece without looking ornate,” said SFGATE. “If you have a piece of furniture that has features reminiscent of French Country style that you discovered in a thrift store or garage sale, painting it to fit in with the modern French Country decor theme involves the proper paint, finish and distressing technique.”
See more here and get some great ideas here.
Uncover some shiplap – or make your own
If you watch Fixer Upper like some of us do for hours and hours on end, you know how shiplap typically makes an appearance. Shiplap is a “rough-sawn pine paneling often used in barns and historic homes,” said HGTV. So it typically brings character into an interior.
But even if your home doesn’t have it (most newer homes don’t), you can still create the look. Home Depot sells shiplap boards for about $8 each. Or, you can do what Hooked on Houses did, and buy sheets of very thin plywood at Lowe’s for $13.97 a panel and had them cut it into 6″-wide strips for us at the store. it would have cost us over $400 to panel the room. With the plywood, we spent only $139.”
Put together an eclectic mix of accessories
Nervous about creating vignettes or figuring what goes where? Take solace in the fact that Joanna “had no interior design training when she opened the store,” said Hooked on Houses. “She says she learned on the job while helping her customers decorate their houses.”
If you watch the show, you’ll see that walls are typically covered with architectural and textural elements. On shelves, a mix of fun and functional décor items brings in warmth and creates interest. Overhead lighting is not just functional, it’s fantastic, and typically serves as a focal point in the room. And when in doubt, remember this: groupings, groupings, groupings.
Hire an awesome carpenter
The show’s impossibly talented carpenter makes impossibly beautiful stuff, often using materials uncovered during demolition. Since most of us don’t have a carpenter at our hip, we might have to do some searching. If you’re the type of DIYer who can build a 14-foot farm table from scratch, great! If not, reach out to friends and family. You never know where a referral can come from. Or, hit thrift stores and yard sales. You never know where a great piece can come from.
Drive to Waco
But not to buy a house—unless that’s what you’re into. Instead, mosey into Magnolia, the couple’s retail store, and come home with the real deal.