I'm a great fan of Kirstie Allsopp (is there anyone who isn't?) and have been watching her new programme Kirstie's Homemade Home with interest, as I kitted out my French house in a similarly thrifty way.
My sofa was donated by a banker neighbour who was relocating from London to New York, while most of my furniture was once on display in the Kensington branch of Laura Ashley - before being sold off at a massively discounted rate. Pictures, lampshades and ornaments (yes, I have ornaments!) were picked up at vide greniers [French car boot sales] or a depot-vente [second hand shop] on the outskirts of Poitiers; while my prized vintage Laura Ashley tea towels were bought at a vintage fabric and clothing fair in London - not exactly a snip at £50 for a pair, but I couldn't resist the graphic pink and orange design.
Once, while in Paris for work, I happened to be walking past Nobilis - the French equivalent of Colefax & Fowler - as they were holding a sample sale. Inside, the normally reserved shop was packed with posh Parisians, rifling through piles of exquisitely patterned remnants at €20 a piece.
Unlike Kirstie, I can't sew but I left with a bag stuffed with colourful fabrics, determined to use them for something. I had one of the pieces, a red and white check cotton, made into a curtain to hide the clutter under the sink but only last week - in an attempt to smarten up the house - did I get around to hanging it (with the help of a friend.)
Unfortunately, it's wildly impractical, as it is ideally positioned to receive a drenching of water and food leftovers whenever I do the washing up. But hey it looks good, and like terracotta tiles, geraniums and distressed blue-grey shutters, the ruched under-sink curtain is textbook style francais. I feel sure that Kirstie would approve.