14 March 2011

Americans In France

 

[00001182[8].jpg]

Last month I wrote about some houses for rent in France.  This one house pictured above immediately struck me as being owned and decorated by an American, probably a southern one at that.  I don’t know why I felt that way – but I would have bet $100,000 on it (if I had the money that is!)   The house, of course, looked authentically Provencal, but it was the furnishings that looked so familiar:  the linen slipcovers, the silk pillows, a touch of leopard, the wonderful – just perfect antique French end tables,  the lamps – with their great lampshades, the painting that just happened to match the pillows, the beautiful Italian chandelier that is so trendy in the US right, the fur tossed over the arm of the antique bergere, gilt angel wings on the mantel, design books stacked, and maybe the biggest clue of all – an orchid in a urn.  Wow.  Who wouldn’t have guessed this was designed by an American?   Maybe that’s why I liked this house so much – it almost looked like home, but with a French backdrop.

 

[00001177[4].jpg]

The guest room in that rental is also perfectly furnished, with French toile quilts, wildly expensive wood cuttings above each bed, upholstered French headboards, a smattering of gilt around, the just-right French antique night stand, and a chair – with matching fabric.  

One reader took the bait and called around to find out if indeed an American owned this house.   The answer:  of course!  Like I said, it’s not rocket science when it’s this obvious.   Makes me wonder….is this a one time happening?   Is it THAT obvious when an American decorates overseas?

 

 

 

image 

The best example of Americans designing in France is Atlanta interior designer Ginny Magher who rebuilt and decorated her gorgeous summer house, Mas de Baraquet,  in Provence.  The job was done by Bruno Lafourcade, one the premier restorers in France.  Who can forget the gorgeous spread in Veranda  1998?

 

image

One of the guest room at Magher’s Provencal house. 

 

image

Over the years, Magher has designed other houses in France, including this one with its stone fireplace and skirted tabled dining room.    In the decades since designing Magher’s house, Bruno Lafourcade, his wife and son have reached stardom in France, designing major houses and gardens. 

So let’s see if we find another American designed house in France:

 

HOUSE #1:

image

This road leads to a gorgeous mas in Provence.  It got my attention because again, I’m convinced an American decorated it.

 

 

image
This beautiful Provencal house, 18th century, is for sale through Sotheby’s.   The grounds are fabulous with a lake, tennis court, swimming pool, and a private garden.  Nine bedrooms and baths plus a 3 bedroom keeper’s house.    I love that gravel terrace at the front of the house.  Most interesting is that this house and garden was completely redone by the Lafourcades, the same people who did Ginny Magher’s house.  No wonder this is so gorgeous. 

 

image

Another gravel sitting area amid the box and roses.


 

image
Beautiful manicured beds off to the side of the mas.

 

image

Symmetrical urns lead to a secret garden.

 

 

image

I wonder if this is the keeper’s house?   Notice the tiny windows in the basement.   And notice the poor tree to the left – what terrible topping!   Whoever is pruning this tree has ruined it.

 

image

The front yard, leading to the door. 

 

 


image

Entering the house, immediately you can tell – it’s really, really special.  The flag floors are gorgeous – as are the double front doors.  Notice the carved doors leading into the living areas on the left and right – they resemble French armoire doors.   Outside you can see the fountain on the front lawn. 

 

image

Up the stairs with the beautiful iron bannister and tiled treads.  Notice the entry hall below with the trendy lantern, large urn and framed prints.  Seeing this picture made me think an American owed this house.

 

 

 



image

The living room is beautifully furnished, with chintz covered sofas.   The mantel is so pretty.  But, it’s the rug that makes me think  Americans own this house.  The faded, antique rug is so similar to those seen in the more upscale houses here.   Most interesting is that I don’t think it’s a southerner that owns it, rather an American from up north.   And I’m guessing this was designed early in the 2000s – hence the lack of any Swedish or Belgian influence that is so popular this decade.

 

 

image

Across the main hall is the dining room, full of English styled furniture.   Which, to me, is another clue – a Frenchman would never decorate with English furniture – he would use French pieces. 

 

image

Eat-in kitchen with great table and, again, English chairs. 

 

 

image

The master bedroom, with the skirted table, another American clue.   I wonder where the stairs lead to? 

 

 

image

The family room – I love this room!  To me, it looks exactly how an American would decorate it, with a mix of old whicker, French chairs, sofas, lanterns, mirrors and wonderful murals on the walls – a very faint design, just barely visible.   This house is so beautiful – very well done, perfectly decorated and landscaped.    

 

image

An eating area that leads off the family room pictured before – notice the brick floor is the same here as in that room. 

 

image

The swimming pool. 

 




image

Another gravel eating terrace with fountain.  I can only imagine the view!

 

image

The property is large – and extensively landscaped by the Lafourcades.

 

image

There is even a lake!

 

image

With a boat launch.   Hard to imagine how wonderful it would be live on this property.

 

 

image
Rows and rows of olive trees.



image

A tennis court comes with its own vine covered pergola that doubles as a spectator stand!   So, American or French designed?  I vote American.

 

  HOUSE #2:

image

This 17th century house in Provence has 11 bedrooms and 12 acres of land.  

 

image

To the side of the main house is the old chapel, which can also be used for parties or weddings.

 

 

  image  Behind the chapel are the remains of the original house on the property.  Here, next to the ruins  are the swimming pool and the tennis courts.  Gorgeous!

 

 image

The entrance hall.  Very dressy and refined with antique French furniture, crystal chandeliers, and sconces.   

 

image

The study is filled with antique French furniture and French fabrics.

 

image

The living room, with more antiques and chintz covered furniture.   For reasons that are hard to explain, to me – it seems as if a French family lives here, not an American.   The furniture appears to be a mix of pieces collected over a lifetime, as opposed to gathered quickly to furnish a summer getaway – as an American would do.   Do you agree?  Does this look French or American owned to you?

 

 

 

image

The old chapel – what a beautiful space with all the stone arches and paintings of the saints.   Something tells an American would have tried to decorate this space – perhaps with light fixtures, new furniture, and a runner.    Somehow, the authentic  French version looks preferable.

So, American designed or French.  I vote French!

 

HOUSE #3:

image

Le Mas de Cezanne, outside of Aix de Provence.  Beautiful, authentic stone mas with French blue shutters.  

 

 

image

The grounds are gorgeous – here a box enclosed garden.

 

image

Some pictures are too small – I’m sorry!   Here is the entry hall.  To me, this picture gives it away immediately – French or American?

 

 

image 

The living room with a skirted table, modern art, French antiques, great lamps – love love love this!

 

 image

The living room, with its seagrass rug and skirted table leads out to a covered porch.  Look at the beautiful French blue shutters and doors!

 

 

image

The living room above leads out to this covered pergola.  So beautiful with its flower pots, wicker chairs, and iron furniture.  Soooo romantic~!!

 

image

The kitchen looks like it was in a magazine.  Whoa.  Its fabulous – love the corner cabinet, the checked curtains, the farm sink, the huge cloche.

 

image

A red door leads into the yellow study with its antique furniture and brick floors.  Wonderful windows. 

 

image

The yellow study with the antique French bench and traditional checked fabrics.    Sooo cute!!!!

 

image

The family room with more checked fabrics and an assortment of antique furniture. 

 

 

image

The master bedroom with a quilt and canopy, antique furniture, wonderful lamp and shade, and more modern art. 

 

 

image

The guest room has more wonderful lamps and antique furniture.  

 

 image

The grandkids room.   Notice the different teddy bear picture above each bed!  What a cute idea!!!!   Love the rug. 

 

 image

The swimming pool with its flower covered island.   How do you water those plants?

 

 image

Traditional French pots and an allee of cypress trees.   OK – French or American designed?    My guess is American all the way!!!   It’s so perfect looking, so decorated, everything looks like it was purchased especially for this house alone and is just waiting for a photoshoot.  

 

HOUSE #4:

image

I think this is my favorite kind of house – a stone French mas with shutters and a collection of large and small windows with no landscape at the house, just gravel.   One day….one day.   I don’t care if I have to build it in Galena Park to afford it, I’ll do it one day!!!  hahahah!!!!   Galena Park.  Google it.    Notice another butchered topped tree.   Why????

 

image

The same view – showing the wing on the left.    This house is very pretty inside, but the outside is just so wonderful!

 

image

Located in the Luberon Valley, this is the view from the upstairs. 

 

image

Iron and stone staircase, my favorite.  Terra cotta tiles.   The décor is a mix of antiques.

 

image

The living room is located in what was probably once the barn.   The mantel is wonderful, the floor and doors are great.  But people – slipcovers don’t last forever!   It’s time for new ones – these have shrunk and don’t fit well, plus they should be ironed.   There are good slipcovers and bad slipcovers.  Look at the back of this sofa – see how it doesn’t fit properly?

 

 

image

The master bedroom with a wicker sectional and canopy bed. 

 

image

The guest room.   Hmm.

 

image

The pergola at the front of the mas, probably right off the kitchen. 

 

image

And the swimming pool.  OK, French or American?    I vote French.   A house like this would cost millions for an American – I just think an American who could afford this would spend more on the furnishings.   It would be more of a staged looking house if American’s owned it.  To a Frenchman, this is their reality – they don’t need to make it a cute stage, they live it. 

 

 

 

HOUSE #5:

image

God.   Is there anything more gorgeous than this???????  Whoa.   I love how the house curves around on the left, creating a natural terrace.   All the blue shutters are so cute – and notice the arched gate.    Cute dog.  Cute BBQ pit.   So American???

 

 

image

A view of the left side with its arched French doors and gravel terrace.  

 

image

French lantern, stone fountain, birdcage – this reminds me of Velvet and Linen’s remodeled canal house garden HERE.

 

image

OK, there is only one interior photograph from this house, but I just had to show the house anyway.  So this is tough to decide from one picture:  American or French?

 

image

The swimming pool.    Did you decide yet?    I vote French.   The furnishings in the living room seem too disparate and unorganized for an American who would spend the millions on this house.   Also, I don’t recognize anything – the light fixture, the fabrics, the basket, etc.   Nothing looks like it came from America.

 

HOUSE #6:

image

Beautiful mas, but the grounds look somewhat unkempt. 

 

image

Gorgeous windows and fireplace.   Antique wood framed French furniture.  Beautiful mirror.  I’m voting French again.   I’m thinking that maybe Americans decorate too perfectly – everything matches, it’s all “done” just in case a magazine comes around to take photographs.   Also, Americans tend to use elements we all recognize – furniture, accessories, chandeliers.  All the trendy things that we see in all the stores and in the catalogues.   Again, I don’t recognize anything in this picture – not the fabrics, the accessories, the rug, the lights.    The French houses seem more individualized.

 

image

I don’t think an American would decorate a summer house in such dark colors as burgundy and forest green.

 

 

image

And the bedroom, with its odd shaped duvet – strikes me as non American owned.  What do you think?  French or American?

 

 

HOUSE #7:

After the first post, when I showed the American owned Provence house, a nearby neighbor, aka reader, emailed to show me her French property which she rents out.   We KNOW this house is American owned and designed.

 

image

The reader’s vacation house,  L’Etiole, lies between two charming villages – here is Gordes, just a 7 minutes drive away.

 

 

image

And, the village of Roussillon is just 4 minutes away from L’Etoile, the vacation rental.

 

image

The house has 4 bedrooms – and they all look over this incredible valley!  Notice the hot air balloon in the sky!!!!  Reminds me of the movie Bobby Deerfield.  Or closer – the races in the summer at Del Mar, California.

 

image

L’Etoile:   The charming stone house, and I do mean charming, is 3 stories.  Does it get any cuter than this?   Notice the French blue shutters and the little Juliet balconies.    The property, located in the Luberon Valley, is over 2 acres of land.  I can’t believe that someone who lives so close to me owns this house in France!!!!    They are sooo lucky!!!  Must be wonderful.

 

 

 

image

The main living room has a linen upholstered French sofa and two slipcovered chairs.  But it is the stairs that are the focal point here – how beautiful are they?   So simple, yet so elegant!  Before moving in the owners did extensive remodeling:  the house was painted, a laundry room was added,  and they replaced all the light fixtures – some of which were custom made.   Also, the ceiling beams were lightened to their natural color. 

 

image

Another view of the living room, with it’s fireplace which the owner had built using old stone.  In the mirror, you can see the dining area.  The owner completely furnished the house while on a tight budget.   Many pieces are antique, including the sofa, which was bought on Ebay from someone living in France.    Antique hemp fabric covers it.   The curtain fabrics are from France’s Les Olivades.  Originally the fabric was brought to Houston for their house here, but it was decided the fabric would work better in France, so, back it came,  tailored to fit L’Etoile’s windows.

 

 

image

I love all the windows!!!   Most meals are eaten outside by the swimming pool and the summer kitchen.  This room is good for when its too chilly to eat outside.

 

       image  The fully furnished, newly rebuilt kitchen with its original vaulted ceiling.  Again – such cute little windows!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

image

The master bedroom with antique and Les Olivades linens.  This is the bedroom I would want to stay in  – I love the canopy and the duvet, the lamps and nightstands.  According to the owner, all mattresses are new and are high quality.    It’s funny that I know for sure this was decorated by an American, but if I saw it without knowing, I might have thought it was French owned!  I think it’s all the curtain fabrics that might make me think that. 

 

image

Off the master bedroom is this sitting room.

 

image

Another bedroom on the top floor. 

 

image

All the bathrooms are totally new.  I love the skirts made of feed bags!  But, the feed bags give away it’s American owned.   I’m not sure that French people use feedbag fabrics like we do here.

 

image

This bedroom has twin beds and is located on the 2nd floor, next to the master bedroom.   The house can sleep 8 comfortably.

 

image

And, the children’s bedroom on the top floor.

 

 

image

                   And another bathroom – with an antique mirror.  Cute light fixture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              image Most activities center around the swimming pool.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            image                                 The owner outfitted this antique bed for use around the pool – too cute!!  Another hint it’s American owned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

 

image

The summer kitchen is located off the swimming pool in an outbuilding.   New doors and windows were added to make the the room more open to the outside.  

 

 

image

The summer kitchen is fully stocked and furnished so that all meals can be prepared poolside without having to go back inside the house.

 

 

image

And finally, dinner outside at L’Etoile.  This picture alone makes me want to book a month here!  Soooo pretty.    If you are looking for a house to rent in Provence, consider this one.   To read all about L’Etoile, go HERE  and book your vacation.

 

Thank you for playing along today – French or American????

Most properties today came from  either Emile Garcin  or Sotheby’s.