Before and After Encore

June 26th, 2010 comments 3

i’m sending a heartfelt thanks for the generous comments and emails you’ve sent about our kitchen project. And today I’m feeling particularly honored to be mentioned here on the fabulous blog Belgian Pearls.
Thank you Greet!

I promised some of you more “before and after” shots so here are a couple of images… more to come… Have a great weekend!

Before - red window matched the blue and red ceiling!



After - Mezzanine reading nook

La Cuisine… Before And After

June 17th, 2010 comments 16

It’s a pretty scary image isn’t it! Yet somehow I saw possibility… I seriously wonder what I had been drinking….

I’ve mentioned before that we’ve been en travaux (under renovation) for what seems like an eternity, but now that most of the dust has cleared, I thought I’d share some pic’s of the finished project.

It all started with the kitchen and I’m happy to report that the room is no longer pink. There wasn’t anything we could salvage in the old space, in fact, what was the kitchen is now a bedroom and what was a bedroom has become the new kitchen. I wish my photos were better but I think they’ll give you an idea. In the new kitchen we kept the exterior walls and windows as they were and gutted the interior shell. Layout was a challenge because of the four doorways and traffic flow. The space wasn’t wide enough for a center island but we managed a bar area that’s great staging for serving on the terrace.

I found old planks that had been used to age big rounds of cheese and we had them re-purposed into the cabinet doors. The grain of the wood is rough and raised from years of washing and the color is a soft pale grey/white/tan melange. The cabinet boxes themselves -mostly all drawers – are Ikea. Sending Ikea love here…

In Provençal fashion we built plaster legs for the cabinets, but I wanted to try to create a more modern look with the old techniques so the legs are extra thick and have a radius that’s repeated throughout the room. The counters are a grey Portuguese limestone, totally impractical, and I know better, but I like the patina they’re developing… it seems to go with the house. The floor is pierre de Bourgogne – stone from Burgundy. Grey-ish palette of zellige tiles on the wall. Grey-ish paint on doors, windows, kicks, and shelving.

Dishes are stored in an 18th century armoire from Uzes, very simple, sober lines. It’s a brownish purpley color that I also have in some of the pottery scattered around from the Alsace region of France. (The purpley brown glaze was created using magnesium.) Antique Swedish chairs and French Directoire table that we can extend to feed a crowd.

I scraped the paint off of an 18th century door to use on the pantry, inch by tiny little inch.

Stone sink and other antique bits and bobs with some wood and antique wicker to add texture… I didn’t put the sink under the window in this kitchen. I don’t spend that much time at the sink but I do spend a lot of time chopping and baking and I wanted the view as I cooked.

I do love cooking in this kitchen… can you come for lunch?

But the very best thing about this room has to be the view.

View to the East

Double doors lead out to a terrace that looks toward Mt. Ventoux, Gordes, Roussillon, Lumieres and the valley below… a window looks to the east and the sunrise.. another window to our “found” outdoor eating area. Our home isn’t large, it’s a small-ish maison de village and no matter how we try to make it just so, mother nature always carries the trump card. Thanks for taking the tour, I hope you liked it!

Love In a French Parking Lot

June 13th, 2010 comments 0

it’s an image that so many of us have admired. And for me it inspired a genealogical search for a bed: a treasure hunt for an 18th century twin sister, just as in the photo… or perhaps her 18th century cousin… definitely not a 19th or 20th century distant relative.

She’s been elusive, and it seems to have taken ages… but she was there, a taxi strike and a long walk in the rain away. Standing upright and proud in a parking lot, waiting… (I think)… for me. Headboard, footboard and rails and the perfect gris patina of time.

I’ll re-upholster her soft spots in vintage chanvre or linen… then she’ll be itching to be set free, to find a permanent home with some lucky someone, somewhere. I hope, whoever it is, will have lovely linens and a ciel de lit waiting!

…the source of the 1st photo is unknown, I tore it out many moons ago and unfortunately can’t remember from where…

Where To Sit This Summer?

May 18th, 2010 comments 5


I’m loving the Manutti above and the Vincent Sheppard below…. how about you?

top 3 photos Manutti, bottom 3 photos Vincent Sheppard

Linen Lust

May 13th, 2010 comments 8

when I think of linen I think of Provence. We use linen for our curtains, our upholstery and slipcovers, draped over beds, tables, anywhere and everywhere we can. For those of you who experience linen lust as I do, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite European linen lines. Today it’s De Le Cuona.

De Le Cuona is a UK firm, known for it’s extensive range, luxurious softness and in their own words, floppy hand. The weight and drape of their fabrics is sublime. They also produce a collection of paisley’s inspired by antique Kashmir designs. The color ways and  weaves are absolutely incredible. I can’t say enough about these fabrics. You’ll find their distribution network on their website or you can visit Provence and I’ll introduce you to my friend Catherine who represents the collection in our area and you can experience their splendor firsthand.

above images courtesy the De Le Cuona website

My tapissier (upholsterer) just delivered this 18th century armchair which I had re-upholstered in De Le Cuona chevron linen.  It has a fantastic slubby texture and a mat finish, and I think it plays well with the sober rustic style of the chair. What do you think?

Making Lamps – DIY

April 14th, 2010 comments 4

the French interiors I’m most drawn to have a quality I call perfect imperfection.  The French design magazines capture it well in their photographs and my French friends homes serve as inspiration. They have just the right amount of real to balance the good taste.

Capturing the imperfect essence is a place where we sometimes fail in American interior design. Being too perfect our interiors can look like stage sets, props for a life, not homes. Admittedly Europe has an advantage. The structures, the backgrounds, the surfaces, have just the right amount of “crunch” to balance the crispness of a modern interior or provide the counterfoil to period antiques. There’s an adage in the graphic design biz that holds true for interiors as well. If everything’s bold then nothing is bold. I would also include the word perfect. If everything is perfect then nothing is perfect. Native Americans understood this principle when they purposely wove a spirit line – an imperfection – into their weavings.

One trick my French buddies use for adding an unexpected quirk is DIY lamps. I make a lot of my own lamps and all of my antique dealer friends here in France do too. We’re always on the hunt for a found element that can be turned into a lamp, to then be tucked into an unexpected spot in a room.

I bought the above group from a Belgian designer/antique dealer, Michel Lambrecht. I happened on his shop several years ago in Brussels and fell in love with his lamps crafted from architectural salvage. His shades set his pieces apart, the shapes, colors and proportions are fantastic. I order them for many of the lamps I create for antique fairs.

And I’m a big fan of (unruly) exposed cords, provided they’re not the plastic kind. I think they knock perfect just enough off balance. Here are some other creations that might inspire you to bring an imperfect lamp into your home. If you’d like to give DIY a try, the Grand Brass website has all of the supplies you’ll need.

One of many editions of our lamps created with antique claw foot tub feet

A mossy stone baluster for this one - Michel Lambrecht shade - oops the seam is showing...

Wood element found at the brocante - shade crafted from an old French linen nightshirt.

Another found wood element - this one's Italian and the base was wired back together at some point. We left that bit for character. I used an antique terra-cotta tile for the base. Antique chanvre (hemp) shade.

The exposed cord gives it just the right amount of "je ne sais quoi". Topped with a vintage upholstery twill tape shade.

Chandelier arm turned into a sconce. Chanvre (hemp) lampshade.

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