Project: Maison de charme

By Matt Balmer
May 7, 2018

David Price’s brief was more than a mere makeover – this French farmhouse needed a complete overhaul to create a contemporary home for a modern family.

by Rebecca Hoh-Hale

“The Parisian client loved the idea of living in an authentic old French farmhouse, but also wanted a more contemporary feel of a light, bright, open interior,” says David Price of David Price Design. He has just completed the renovation and extension of this sun-filled villa on the south-west coast of France for a French-Moroccan/Spanish couple and their two young sons. “We’ve worked with many châteaux over the years,” he says. “The work can be over when you have plastered the beams, whitewashed the walls, and restored the stone or terracotta floors of the small, dimly lit rooms – but this project was a complete overhaul, a full reconfiguration, and a fresh outlook for this modern family.”

Price’s practice began the project by re-imagining the house’s flow. Although, at 600 sq m, the villa was of a good size with plenty of potential already, it was decided to extend the property to create the full sense of space and light the client wanted. The new layout includes a series of open ground-floor spaces – a kitchen, dining room, living space, and terrace – which are interlinked. Via simple but pleasing archways throughout, this layout allows views all the way through to the sea-facing far end. There is also a brand new swimming pool beyond, which replaces the pool originally located on the other side of the house, in the garden behind the kitchen.

The property had been rearranged into a U-shape in a 1960s rambling renovation.Price demolished and rebuilt one whole side of the U, added new windows and shutters, reconfigured the front door to open up into a new stone staircase entrance, and added new roofs and Perigord stone floors. The whole property was “completely stripped and started from scratch”.

Now, the new side of the U houses the living space, kitchen, master suite and childrens’ bedrooms, while the adjoining wing, has guest bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a kitchen and dining space. As was important to the clients, this allows for family and friends to come and stay for extended amounts of time without everyone feeling on top of each other.

After the fresh, innovative and open reconfiguration was in place, David Price’s in-house interior design team – headed up by Nina Laty – stepped up to the challenge of bringing authentic but modern styling to the interior scheme. It needed to be authentic to the building’s period, location, and heritage, but also reflect the clients themselves. As a result, the space has a slight Moroccan edge, with splashes of pared-back jewel colours and little niches with pointed tops. They reference Moorish roots but avoid clichés, moving it away slightly from being an obvious motif of either French farmhouse or north African kasbah. It now sits somewhere in between old and new: the kitchen nods towards the rustic, with aged oak planks whose splits, grains, and imperfections are part of the charm. The Perigord stone used on the floor has been utilised for the worktops, too, introducing taupe tones that add warmth to the original beams and whitewashed walls. The chunks of oak appear again as the monastic-style dining table, commissioned by the client and made by Jérôme Durand, the joiner who was contracted for the whole project.

Above the table is one of many striking lighting pieces. They further add to the modernist, unexpected take on both a moorish and château feel – this one could even look at home in a cool city pad. Made from brushed metal and glass, it was sourced from American company Roll & Hill.

“The lighting throughout the scheme had to be stand-out and individual and yet work together,” explains Nina Laty. “It was a real pleasure to find such great pieces and for the white of the house to work almost as an art gallery setting for them.”

The living room is similarly spacious, without fusses or frills, featuring white-painted beams and two stone-coloured sofas with wooden legs from Porada which are upholstered in Casamance fabric: “the addition of minimal colour – just some floral cushions for a summerhouse feel, using fabric from Manuel Canovas,” Laty says, “plus a rug from Diurne adding flecks of sea blues to the room.” Other furniture includes two small, marble-topped Ziggy tables, also from Porada, and a simple, sculptural Japanese pendant light.

Directly above, on the first floor, the master suite is light-filled and calm with a built-in dressing space and free-standing bath tub facing out towards the pool and sea. The fabric for curtains and blinds is from Black Edition. Contemporary lighting again keeps the interior on its toes, with a many-armed, white-and-gold MM Lampadari chandelier directly above the bed. The brand also supplied the wall lights. A hanging rattan seat by Sika Design helps keep the floor clear, as does the ‘floating’ bed by Désirée. The first floor also houses a TV room, which features a two-piece daybed and an armchair – both from Meridiani and upholstered in Boussac fabric from Pierre Frey. The Sahco curtain fabric used in this room is a modern take on French lace.

“The brief for the children’s bedroom was to create a masculine environment – but not stereotypically so, so the boys could also be happy in the room as they grew older,” Laty explains the playful but grown up spaces. “A palette of blue, white, and grey was chosen. The client purchased two antique metal beds for the room. We repainted them in grey, adding blue cushions for colour, with some featuring a boat sail and others a more abstract, dot pattern – both fabrics are by Christopher Farr for Holland & Sherry.” Fun, whimsical lighting includes the Semeur d’Etoiles pendants reminiscent of night-time planets. A cloud-like white Charles Eames lounge chair completes the bedroom’s look.

The guest wing, it was decided, could carry even brighter colours and go further into both Moroccan and Hispanic styling and the more traditional ideas of Provence. Further ornate shapes appear in the bedframes, including a southern Spanish-style four-poster, alongside decorative wrought iron and more period style lighting.

This home has cleverly nestled itself in the French countryside, reviving its former glory with a revamped exterior that remains respectful of its heritage. But once inside, the property opens up like a matte and chalky jewellery box. This is a forward thinking, fresh scheme that suits its cosmopolitan Parisian owners, referencing the DNA of its farmhouse roots as well as its new inhabitants’ influences.