Photograph from the Aidan Gray catalogue.
Recently, Randal Weeks and his wife picked the winners of the Aidan Gray catalogue contest. I have already notified all six winners by email. As I said, we got a large response from readers who live in all different kinds of houses – ranch houses, houses on vineyards, castles, country houses, lake houses, suburban houses, and houses in the city. I’ll be showing the winners along with all those who entered, house by house over the next few months because I think everyone is really curious to see how we all live!
I know I was thrilled by the photographs. Reading all the entries made me realize how many of us truly care about our houses – which is probably why you read the blog in the first place. But more important, so many of us are truly proud of our houses, which was evident by what you wrote in your entries. Our houses are so much more than just pretty, they are where we share our lives with the people we love.
I know I joke a lot about house envy and burning down my house whenever I tour a prettier one, but the truth is…Ben and I have lived here around 18 years now – far longer than any place either of us have ever lived in - and the thought of ever moving away makes us both sad. There are so many memories here – our daughter grew up in this house – and we raised a lot of cats and dogs along the way. Actually, Ben and I both grew up here too. We were in our late 30s, freshly married and new parents back then, and now, we are staring down 60 – almost a lifetime. Every corner of our house reminds us of good times and some sad ones too. And thinking about our future here causes some concern. Will the stairs become too much for us to handle one day? Could we add an elevator to the house if we did ever need one? Will there be room for a mother-in-law to move in? Would Elisabeth want to live here with her own family after we are gone? Questions, I have no doubt, that everyone thinks about.
Aidan Gray tablescape.
And so, reading everyone’s entries, I felt your pride and excitement when sending in your pictures. It made me wish everyone could be a winner – because, in truth, how do you judge the “best” house? The six winning homes aren’t any more special than the ones that didn’t win. I came to realize that Randal had specific goals in mind when he picked a winner – things I hadn’t even thought about. He looked for light and space and he looked at specific corners and hallways. It wasn’t a matter of which house was the prettiest, it was more a matter of – this house has an entry hall that would work for the catalogue. Or, this house has a bathroom that would make a good backdrop for a French chair. Or this fireplace would be great with Aidan Gray sconces flanking it. In other words, he was very specific when looking at the choices – which probably is why it took him so long to pick them!
Look at photographs from different catalogues to grasp what I mean:
Here is Randal’s living room as it usually is.
And here it is, styled completely different for an Aidan Gray catalogue. The only things that remained are the mirror, the window, and the coffee table. The fireplace becomes the most important element in the room.
And here is the same living room – styled as a dining room for a catalogue. It’s amazing how different the same room looks in each picture! Notice how important the fireplace is in the pictures. You can see what I mean when I said that Randal wasn’t looking at what people owned, but rather what angle would look best in a photograph. It didn’t matter if the furniture you owned was perfect, new, or even if you didn’t have any! He is using his own furniture for the pictures. His criteria for the spaces was which one would make HIS furniture look best.
Here, in another catalogue picture is the same living room – this time focusing on just a chair and the sconces.
And here, again, another chair, table, and lamp.
He styled his dining room for the catalogue, this way….
And that, just by changing chairs and the tablescape.
But most interesting are the studio shots – taken with a rough board floor and a wooden screen. One chair, a chandelier, a table, and a drape.
A burlap drape makes the space look different.
Here, add new furniture – for a new look.
And here, a settee, a white drape, table and a chandelier.
You can see how different all of the looks are that I’ve shown – with only 3 different backdrops in all: the living room, the dining room, and the studio corner. I can’t wait to see what he does with the new catalogue taken in the readers’ houses!
And now, here is the first place winner:
The house is located smack in the middle of the state of Louisiana. It was entered into the contest by the interior designer who worked with the homeowners on the floor plans and all the finishes. The house is brand new and the decorating process is just beginning. Stacey Serro is owner of the design firm “p-l-a-i-d inc.” (which cleverly stands for paint, lighting, accessories, interiors, design) who worked on the house. Besides the interior design, p-l-a-i-d was involved in space planning, schematic design, architectural detailing, finish selection, millwork design, and furnishings. Several important pieces came from Paris where Stacey and her clients shopped together.
The house is located on a large piece of property – where the swimming pool’s infinity edge seems to fall into the expansive pond. There are also several verandas including one with an outdoor kitchen. There’s also a hot tub, and an orchard on the property. Architecturally, the circle is a design element found throughout the house. You can see here in the above picture, the circles in the windows, the front door, and the attic window. Another design element is the arch – again found in the windows and main doorways.
Of all the houses presented to Randal, I felt this one would be #1 for several reasons. I liked the lines, the arches and circles, and thought they would appeal to Randal. I also liked the large rooms and felt he would be able to take a lot of pictures and have many choices for smaller vignettes. The fact that it was new and was still being furnished was a plus because it would mean Randal could bring in a lot of furniture without much upheaval. Still, I was shocked we both picked the same house for #1. Of all the six winners, I only guessed two as winners! I’m hoping he will run this contest again next year so that my choices will get another chance at winning!!!
Here is the entry with a marble floor and handpainted wallpaper. I love the gray tones of the paper and thought that would work well with Aidan Gray furniture. Also, in each room there is a fabulous light fixture. Now, I don’t know this for sure, but I do think that many of the fixtures came from Louisiana’s Julie Neill. They look like the fixtures in her catalogue. One guest room actually has an Aidan Gray chandelier in it! As you can see, the dining room is off to the right of the entry hall.
And here is the expansive dining room. I love those painted chairs and the chandelier! As you will see throughout – paintings and mirrors were still needing to be hung. Rugs hadn’t arrived yet and some rooms were lacking curtains. The owners had just moved in and decorating was just beginning. I can’t wait to see it when it is completely finished!!! Notice that the shelves are arched here, a design element that is repeated throughout the house.
Here is the main living room, which looks out onto the veranda with the outside kitchen and the swimming pool. The room is furnished with French furniture. At the end is a beautiful marble fireplace. Notice all the arches here – the doorways and the transoms over the French doors. This picture was taken on the staircase through the beautiful iron railings – which inspired Randal, as you will see:
Here is what Randal envisions – taking a photograph from this same position for his catalogue. This picture is a mockup of his plans. He will add his own furniture, these chairs and two settees and tables and lamp. You can see how Randal drew out the furniture placement in the living room. I wonder if when he gets there, he will take other pictures from other angles in the room. Now, notice on the left side of the room – by the windows – there are sconces and a cane chair:
Here is that window wall – along the back of the living room with the gold sconces and cane chair. This photographed also inspired Randal:
And here is how Randal envisions this view – with his sconces and a settee and chair.
And in the living room – the two tufted velvet sofa which flank the carved marble fireplace.
The kitchen is off the dining room and living room – both through arched doorways. Here you can see the wonderful large island and range hood with marble backsplash.
Another view showing the range and chandelier.
The view of the sink – with the gorgeous veined marble countertops. I love the backsplash with the circular tile motif. Notice the circle element is repeated here – in the windows and in moldings.
Closeup of the Wolf range. The gray hood is so pretty.
The guest room with the Aidan Gray light fixture hanging. Here you can see the circle element repeated in the window.
The sitting room off the master bedroom – with it’s pretty chandelier and sconces. I really love the color of the walls, so soft! And the silk curtains match exactly. Through the arch is the bedroom with another beautiful French mantel. Notice how pretty the millwork is – especially in the carved door.
The master bathroom has a large circular window over the bathtub. The floor tiles repeat the circular motif with a darker marble border.
Looking at the other way – the door is painted a darker gray with a circular motif. Love the door – and love the cabinets. Randal was really impressed with the bathroom. This picture was taken before the hardware was finished being installed on the drawers.
And here are Randal’s plans for the bathroom! He will use this as a room, not a bathroom. You can see in his drawings that he will skirt the vanity’s legroom. The two caned chairs will flank his table. The focal point will be the beautiful dark gray door with the circular motif!
Here is a view of the back veranda. The pool has an infinity edge which looks like it is cascading into the pond!
Here is a shot of the back of the house. The orchard is on the right side of the house. You can see the master bathroom also at the right of the house – that’s its large circular window over the bathtub.
I can’t wait to see how the finished photographs from the catalogue look compared to Randal’s drawings. Hopefully we’ll get to see the pictures long before the catalogue comes out. Hint, hint! This is going to be quite a journey and I’m so excited to share it with all of you!
And a huge thank you and congratulations to the homeowners and Stacey Serro who submitted the house!!
To visit the web site of p-l-a-i-d, inc., go HERE.
One last word:
Be sure also to check out Paris Finds – a collection of décor items imported directly from Paris by Stacey Serro of p-l-a-i-d. Paris Finds recently just got in a new shipment of items bought on Stacey’s last visit to France. To see the Paris Finds’ inventory, please go HERE or HERE on Etsy.
I hope you enjoyed seeing House #1. Next, we’ll show House #2!
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving and a SAFE Black Friday!!
We celebrated the holiday at my sister’s house where I snapped these photographs with my I-phone! Totally forgot to take my camera. She decorated the table with 3 tall vases of orange tulips and wooden pilgrims.
And she used her set of Lovefeast velvet pumpkins!! They really looked great on her table. Ben wanted to know why there were pennies in the bottom of the flower vases. BTW, Lovefeast is having a Black Friday 20% off sale HERE.
Elisabeth came home for the holiday. My great-niece Laine has become her shadow at family events. It’s so cute to see Laine discovering that cousins can be wonderful!
I hope your day was as great as ours! We’re just laying around watching football and napping and starting to think about opening the leftovers!! I just hope I brought enough home with me. And now I am wishing I had packed up some dessert too!
First of all, please forgive the technical difficulties I’ve been having. It’s a combination of different things – mostly the just released Windows 8 doesn’t seem to want to work with my blogging platform, Windows Live Writer. You would think Windows 8 would “talk” with Windows Live Writer, but no, it’s never that simple!! On top of that, I am working on a new blog design that should go live in just a few weeks.
One other subject I would like to discuss with you is how you “read” the blog. This topic comes up in emails to me, over and over again, so I thought I would talk with everyone about this! Right now, there are around 17,000 subscribers who receive notifications of blog updates by email. If you are one of those – please do NOT read the blog on your email!!! You miss out on so much if you read the blog from your email. It doesn’t really scroll properly and it’s just not intended to be read this way. Plus, you can’t leave a comment or properly enroll in contests. The best way to read the blog if you get an email notification from Cote de Texas, is like this:
Below is a picture of what your email might look like. When you open the email, place your cursor over the words “Cote de Texas” OR the title of the story – and click. This will take you directly to the blog site.
Click on either the “Cote de Texas” or the title of the blog story where the red arrows are!
When you click on your email, it will take to the true blog address. If you read the blog at the proper address, it will scroll correctly and it will fit your computer screen. By doing this, the pictures will be bigger, brighter and more focused. The blog is designed to be read at www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com and not on your emails. I get so many questions about the blog not scrolling properly or not being able to leave comments, and this is so simple to correct. Just click on your email and you should have no more problems!!
Please trust me on this – you will enjoy reading the blog at its proper address so much more than reading it off your email.
On to the new story. A reader, inspired by the pictures shown here from France and England, wrote me about a beautiful hotel in Provence. She was right – it really IS beautiful! Today, we will visit the hotel, Le Castelet.
The stone bastide sits high above the swimming pool. Underneath the house are two large open rooms that are used for entertaining and parties.
Le Castelet is an original bastide in Provence on the Cote d’Azur. The bastide, surrounded by centuries old cypress trees, sits in the middle of an olive grove with views in all directions. Le Castelet has been totally renovated and is quite luxurious. There are two main buildings, two swimming pools and an outdoor spa.
The countryside of Le Castelet
Le Castelet’s name comes from its origins as a castle. There are stone walls of the bastide that were erected during the Roman period. Most other parts of the bastide were built during the medieval period. Over the years, various owners have added onto the buildings – erecting a terrace and enlarging the stables. A round tower was built in 1841. None of the windows match and some have the year 1863 carved into them. The lead and copper pipes installed long ago have also been replaced. One owner built the garage in 1946. Many authors and movie stars have lived in the area and the very popular actress of the 50s, Bridgett Bardot, visited Le Castelet. She almost bought it, but her mother found a less expensive property for her to purchase. After this, a Swedish family bought the bastide and though they maintained the vineyards and the olive grove, the property was not really cared for properly. In 1997, the Swedes sold Le Castelet to the current owners who completely renovated the property, keeping the past visible, but providing all the mod cons for its visitors.
The map of Le Castelet showing its two main houses, the bastide and the guest annex.
Le Castelet is 30 minutes from Cannes and la Napoul/Mandelieu beaches. There are nearby golf courses and a ski resort is just 40 minutes away. The bastide is near two small villages Cabris and Peymeinade (walking distance). The famous perfume town Grasse with its old picturesque town is only 10 min away. The nearby mountains are perfect for hikes, climbing and canoeing. And you can walk along the real Route Napoleon starting close by behind the house.
The cypress lined drive up to the bastide.
The gate to the main bastide, with the circular tower on the right.
The bastide and its terrace overlook the lower level with the open air rooms and swimming pool and spa (hot tub.)
The two open air rooms below the bastide overlook the swimming pool which overlooks the vineyard.
The open air rooms can be set up for large parties or weddings, making Le Castelet a perfect wedding destination.
The terrace off the bastide is laid with slate tiles. The tower can be seen on the far right.
On the terrace of the bastide, the original swimming pool is now a Zen like reflecting pool.
The original bastide with stone walls, light green shutters and lanterns. Lemon trees are grown in pots.
The original bastide with its tiled roof and copper gutters.
Stone walls and tiled roofs – so French!
Off the tower, wisteria grows. Above is an open air balcony. Since this picture was taken, the area under the balcony was enclosed with a French door.
Atop the tower is an original metal sign signifying 1841, when the tower was erected.
On the left side of the bastide, under the balcony is a covered dining terrace. This section of the bastide is newer than the rest of it.
The dining terrace under the balcony is perfect on cool nights because of hidden heaters!
Inside the bastide is the main salon, with the stairs inside the tower that lead to the second floor.
Looking down from the stairs at the main salon. The floors are tiles, the walls are paneled and stone. The ceilings have original beams.
Beautiful Louis XVI fireplace and paneling.
Behind the salon and past the stairs is the stone hall that leads to the kitchen.
The kitchen in the bastide with its built in armoire. So charming!
At the other side, the incredible La Cornue range and antique tiles that came from a French chateau.
French Provençal table and chairs.
At the top of the stairs in the round tower.
The red salon and bedroom on the second floor.
The suite’s bedroom with taffeta curtains, along with taffeta lined closets.
Another bedroom in the bastide.
An English bathtub from the early 1900s.
This bathroom has incredible marble walls and tiled shower, along with terracotta floors.
Close up of the gorgeous faucets and tiles.
Iris mixed with herbs and stone walls.
The vineyard, bordered by a row of lavender and a walkway along the stone wall.
Roses line the stone walk between the bastide and the smaller guest annex.
Up the stone stairs to the guest annex.
The guest annex is set up to be completely independent of the main bastide. Both houses can be rented at the same time.
Another swimming pool overlooking the countryside and the vineyard.
Stucco walls and cream shutters. Limestone tiles.
The main guest room in the annex. So cute!!
Another view of the guest suite looks out on the terrace and swimming pool.
At the lower level of the property near the vineyard is the newly built Cabanon. The Cabanon can be used in the winter – because it has a fireplace and heated floors. There is also an outdoor kitchen at the Cabanon for dinners.
The Cabanon at night, perfect for dinner parties overlooking the vineyard.
A covered porch sits under the guest annex’s swimming pool. The boule court is to the right.
I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be to stay here with your extended family!! To book Le Castelet, go HERE.
Attention: The six winners in the Aidan Gray contest have all now been notified by /email!! More information about the winners will be coming soon!