This is a story about a dated, old piece of furniture, a stack of art, and a gathering of treasures – and how they turned a sow’s ear of a room into a chic French purse.



Years ago I painted this heavy oak buffet a cheery red and added a folk art design in the style of Peter Hunt.  Back then it was the latest shout.  But after four decades of red I was tired of the look.  It didn’t fit with the decor I had in my head.

I turned the big laundry room into a butler’s pantry.  Moved in the seldom used microwave, ice cream machine,and  special occasion dishes and platters.  I covered the walls with French photographs, maps and art.

Then the search for the perfect French gray paint began.



Paint samples came and went.

At last I found the perfect gray.

A gray reminiscent of the gray you see  on old furniture in France.

The silver-gray of the dust that covered my shoes when I walked the streets of Paris.

Benjamin Moore’s DEEP SILVER!

I repainted in my version of instant French paint finish.  Two coats of Fresh Start  – a high-hiding all-purpose latex primer .   Little touches of white around the trim .   When completely dry – two coats of Minwax clear wax.  What could be simpler.


In the pantry I resurrected  a Beaujolais wine barrel used in one of our restaurants.



Then I created  a mise en scène from bits and bobs  – found treasures gathered over the years.

Into the garden to plunder the lavender.

My Paris Pantry is complete.


    • You were so on my mind when I was doing this. So, after I finished my blog I wrote a little note to you. And.. now I find this one from you. We are connected. Your are in my heart Pat. Much love. Virginia

  1. You clever, clever girl! How very charming and what fun to walk into that pantry. We received your beautiful Ruby Slipper Note yesterday. How very kind and thoughtful of you. Augustine wants to frame your beautiful work of art and forevermore have it on our walls.

    Paris I adorent

    France, her mystery
    Her history
    Around each corner
    A story unfolds

    The quiteness of La Seine
    The elaborateness of Le Tour Eiffel
    Paris I adorent
    As it is you I explore
    We have developed rapport

    En Paris ces’t ma couer
    En Paris ces’t ma maison

    One day we will meet again
    One day we will meet again

    Peter LeBuhn

    • The poem. This wonderful poem of Paris. Thank you Tin Man for your elegant words. The words say it all about Paris. I have found that those who visit Paris – you either get it … or it is just another city on your itinerary. Our son Callum visited Paris for the first time when he was l8 years old. He was on his way to Pau to attend the university. When he and his wife returned to Paris a while ago he came home and his first comment to me was “Mom, we could buy an apartment in Paris, and rent it out when we’re not there”. He got Paris. XxOO V.

      • I receive much enjoyment making cards for those special people in my life. Augustine – I love that you consider my cards so special you would like to frame them. It inspires me to creative new heights. XXOo Virginia

  2. Man, I was impressed with the work you did to create the red cabinet! But the Paris transformation was a delight. I love the barrel! Think I’ll explore this deep silver paint. The name itself is alluring. You must enjoy this room so much now!

    • You called it right Gayle. From a utility laundry room to pure delight. And all it took was a quart of primer paint. I love how it goes so beautifully over everything. The colour is perfect. I tried a lot of grays before I found this one. V.

  3. Lovely, clever and creative, Virginia, and I like both looks of your buffet. My kitchen walls are a pomegranate red, always wanted a red kitchen. Although, the kitchen is small, the red didn’t close it in more, which is what I thought, but went with it anyway. It’s part country and Italy! lol Anyway, love your photos! xxx

    • A red kitchen would be smashing Lauren. I’ve always wanted a red dining room. For that I need a separate room and my dining rooms have always been part of the living room. However, I can still dream. In this life you never know. XX Virginia

  4. You did a fantastic job of repainting your cabinet, it looks oh-so chic and French. Très bien, my friend!
    The lavender, mini tower, candle holder and wine barrel finish it off so nicely.
    I love your creativity ~ beautifully flowing! 🙂

    • It is rather wonderful when a project turns out exactly the way you imagined it. Using tinted primer as the do everything paint finish takes much of the effort out of the job. I like the deep mat finish it gives furniture. My problem is – having to resist buy more furniture to repaint. I often see furniture with great potential at our Thrift Shop – but no where to put it. Virginia

    • I’ve been searching for this particular shade of gray Jo Nell. I am over the moon to find it. My front garden has a huge border of these fragrant flowers. It fills me with joy just to walk past and caress the flower heads and release their perfume. Keep well. V.

      • I especially liked that blue-and-white bowl. It caught my eye the second I opened your post. If you ever run out of furniture for décor facelifts, I can send you some photos of mine! Very DIY capable in textiles–I make a bad ass set of roman blinds–but definitely failed industrial arts!

      • You’ve a good eye, darling. Everything in the arrangement was sourced from bits and bobs around the house. But .. the day before I took this photograph I found that sweet blue and white bowl in our thrift shop and laid out a $1 forit. It looks Mexican .. however I thought it caught the blues in the Monet painting in the background. Virginia

      • I talked to my younger sister today about the make-over. She admits the gray looks great, but she loves the look of the red and so she is planning on painting an old buffet the same red. It is interesting how our tastes change. I so happy when I had the courage to paint the oak red for I was surrounded with brown furniture and I desperately wanted a change. Virginia

    • Interesting comment Tricia. Yes, lately I have low energy days and high energy days. Yesterday a low day was spent in the sewing room altering jeans. Today a high energy day and I put the first coat of gray paint on the (Paris Pantry) cabinets. The room is going to look so chic. I shouldn’t have any trouble getting a butler. XX Virginia

      • Stay tuned to this station to see the final outcome of my cheap and cheerful make – over. Adding to the pantry.. and now the butler’s pantry to the work plan for our kitchen gives me a ridiculously large functioning space – but it works – and the extra steps keep me fit. V.

  5. Firstly I adore the idea of a butlers pantry, and secondly how adorable it all looks now. You have marvellous taste, tres chic indeed.. now, back to the fencing for me!! c

    • The “service” part of our house has two rooms – with exterior doors. The room I made into a pantry was the dairy farm’s original “boot room” – complete with floor drain. Adjacent to this is the”laundry room” another large room (my butler’s pantry) with a second exterior door. I lined the hallway with white shelving units from Ikea , put in the painted buffet and the other day painted the cabinets the same gray as the kitchen cabinets. There was a lot of space simply going to waste – and not that attractive looking. Calling it my butler’s pantry was the inspiration I needed. XX V/

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