COTE DE TEXAS: Aug 21, 2017

The Prettiest House Ever?


This month, there has been a rash of blog stories about a newly restored house in Provence.   Of course the house is right up my alley, it’s in France – and it was renovated by the team of Alexandre Lafourcade.  While he restores the Provencal buildings, Alexandre’s mother, Dominque, restores the gardens.  Dominque’s husband and Alexandre’s father, the company’s founder Bruno, sadly passed away last year.

The incredible restoration work of the Lafourcades.

Long time readers know the name Lafourcade.  The name first came to the attention of those in the states when Veranda did THAT story on interior designer Ginny Magher.  It was Magher’s Lafourcade-restored mas that defined the Provencal look: the long facade with French blue shutters, plane trees, gravel courts, and stucco walls with tile roofs.

Ginny Magher’s “Mas de Baraquet”

When Veranda showed the Magher’s Mas in 2000, it was a universally loved story.  Their Provence house became the “one” that everyone desired. 

This was the cover which showed Ginny’s Provencal master bedroom with the glorious Manuel Canovas fabric.  Mario Buatta famously used this same fabric in French blue in Pat Altschul’s bedroom at her Southerly estate.

The two story entry is a favorite room.  Love this!

And this photo of the Magher’s estate shows the genius that is Dominique.  Here is the BEFORE shot of a typical pergola.

AFTER:   Just a few years later, Ginny’s brand new pergola looks like its been there for 100 years.

The Magher Veranda cover story brought much attention to Ginny, of course, but it also introduced the Lafourcades to America.  Their web site showed other fabulous renovations by Bruno, Alexandre and Dominque and over the years their reputations have became legendary due to their exquisite taste and their ability to recreate a masterpiece.

And so, when photos of a newly renovated Mas started showing up on Instagram, people took notice.  Was it a new Lafourcade?

Even Ginny herself took notice with this comment on Instagram:

  Ginny:  “Your house looks very similar to our Mas de BARAQUET in Provence. Ours was a Bruno Lafourcade collaboration. Your Mas de Poiriers is gorgeous. Bravo.”

I guess all Lafourcades-clients feel related to each other.  I loved seeing that Ginny commented on the new Mas.

News of the new Mas is spreading fast.  It started this way:

  This summer while in Provence, popular fashionista Julia Engel of “Gal Meets Glam” paid a visit to the Mas and everyone on Instagram looked and then did a double take.

The house is gorgeous.

Beyond gorgeous.

Forget about millenniums and forget about contemporary design.  Put all that aside.  Just clear your mind of anything “nu.”

This is classic French design.  Country French at its best.

And this house will make you remember why you ever loved French design to begin with.  And, this house will make you wish you had never left it all behind. 

It’s always the same lesson we have to relearn over and over again:  classic is best and nothing much can top it.

Besides the photos that Julia took of the house HERE, there is a fascinating interview with the owner of the mas on “The Glam Pad.” HERE.


So with all those stories already written, what is left for me to blog about?

Usually when a few popular bloggers have already written about a house that I particularly like, I will walk away from the story in order to avoid repetition.

BUT - there is my “Mother” rule. 

“The Mother Rule” 

If a previously written story is something I think my own mother would love to read about and if I know my mother never read about it before and never would read about it unless I wrote about it….

then I’ll write about it.

The Mother Rule.

I proved this theory to myself. 

I posted a photo of a bedroom from this new Mas on my Instagram and I immediately got a phone call from my mother, Betty Rae.  (To read all about the infamous Betty Rae, go HERE.)

Shortly after I posted the photo from the Mas on my instagram, Betty Rae calls me:  “Have you shown this bedroom to your sister Cathy?”  And more:  “Be sure you send this photo to Cathy!”   Betty Rae is now 87.  She doesn’t quite realize that Cathy already sees all my Instagrams regardless – no need to mail her the photos.

But that’s besides the point.  Betty Rae’s excitement about the photo from the Mas showed me I had to write the story for her, despite the fact that several other popular blogs had already written about the house.

And then this happened:

I found a new treasure trove of photos on the Mas’ rental web site that hadn’t been seen on those other blogs yet…

So, Betty Rae, this one is for you!

The mas is called “Le Mas des Poiriers” and it is located right outside Avignon on the Isle de la Motte – an actual tiny island formed by the branches of the river.  The mas is located on 65 acres, filled with pear orchards, hence its name.  There are 7 bedrooms, plus 2 more in a guest house.  It’s all available to lease (details below.)   But don’t think you are going to check in on a Tuesday and leave on a Wednesday.  It doesn’t work that way. 

This is a house to cherish lovingly and slowly.

  The interiors were done by SBLong Interiors of Dallas & Connecticut.   Talk about a dream job! 

But hard. 

I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Susan B. Long to completely furnish a working house for a large family – and to do it all from across the globe.  The owners of the Mas have five children and their numbers are rapidly expanding with in-laws.  The family is as beautiful as the house – large, loving, close, philanthropic, and adventure-seeking.   The family has lived all over the world, literally, for different work assignments.  Moving so often, they have owed a number of homes and over the years, at least five of their houses have been decorated by SBLong Interiors.

This house in Connecticut designed by Susan Long is the family’s main base now, after a life time of living abroad.    Definitely not country French, the house is very sophisticated, very chic, very classic traditional decor.  HERE.

A previous second home designed by Susan Long was this mountain home in Deer Valley Utah.  HERE.

Instead of French antiques, Long used a lot of English antiques in their mountain home. 

What’s the connection to Provence?

  The family had rented vacation houses in Provence and one summer they stayed in the perfect house.  It was large enough for the family and its location was secluded yet close to antique shopping and great food.   As luck would have it, that mas was for sale.

Who you going to call?

The Lafourcades!

When the family decided to take on the challenge and restore the Mas, they knew just who was up for the job.

Alexandre and his team renovated the house while Dominque completely recreated the extensive gardens, swimming pool, and tennis courts.

The Mas has been an new adventure for the family - now dealing with children marrying and younger children leaving for college – this house will be a place they all come to be together again.

The renovation by Alexandre involved moving the front door to create a new grand foyer and stone staircase.  Rooms were reworked, ceilings were raised and stone floors were installed on the first floor, with antique terra cotta tiles going upstairs.  Much needed closets were added, many flanking the beds.   Bathrooms are all white marble.    There’s a new master suite along with a mud room in a barn that for centuries had just a dirt floor.  Additionally, there are newly installed fireplace mantels throughout.    The house is filled with antiques that were handpicked in France by SBLong and the owner.   Tough duty, I know!  And note:  not everything was bought – some pieces were inherited with the sale of the house.


The one design choice that proved genius was the fabric.  All fabrics were purchased from Pierre Frey.  Taken together as a whole, these French prints create a certain mood.  Any other fabric would have looked too trendy, too en-vogue, too English.   The Pierre Freys are the correct choice and make perfect sense.  Another SBLong fabulous yet important decision.

The last step has been the landscaping which was installed by Dominque Lafourcade. A wisteria covered walkway leads to the newly built pool and a rose covered arbor lays on an axis off the living room.  A tennis court now has its own charming house while the old barn was renovated for staff apartments. 

Here is how the Mas looked when it was first purchased.  Pretty, but in need up an update.  Originally the shutters were burgundy  - today, they are French blue.  The open air building to the left is now the orangery.

The garden plan drawn by Dominique Lafoucade.   On the plan you can see the cypress allees and the rose arbors.  The swimming pool is enclosed by foliage and walls.  The pool is new – before it was on the front lawn.  Behind the house is the large barn which now holds offices and apartments for the staff.

An original aerial photo of the property before renovation.  You can see the original pool here in the front yard.  Brilliant idea to move it!   This move frees up the large lawn to become all garden designed by Dominique.  The new pool is off the kitchen to the right of the house.

A before view.   The plane trees are so leafy you can barely see the house.  But here, you can see the original barn behind the house.

The approach to the Mas with the newly groomed plane trees. 

AFTER:    The shutters are now blue.  Notice the blue and white fabrics on the furniture – stripes and checks.  Gravel terrace.

This is the corner between the long facade and the kitchen facade.

The front view – the large arched window is now the living room.   At the very left – the other large window is the orangery.   Many of the photos are not completely staged yet.  You can see the step ladder was left out in view – but that’s ok.  It will be forever before a magazine properly photographs the house.   We can wait. 

This allee of tall cypress was added by Dominque to accentuate the center axis of the house.

This makes a natural place for outdoor parties – one long table between the cypress.  Seriously pretty.

  The party given here designed by A Matthew Robbins Design Company HERE.

And behind the table – you can see the rose covered archway which will take another year or two to grow out over the arch.

The kitchen facade with a Provencal fountain.

This area of the house overlooks the new swimming pool and the sunflower fields beyond it.

The corner view – love the furniture with the stripes and checks in blue.

Flowering plants were added to these pots.

A sitting area.   These stone posts act as gates throughout different areas of the estate.

The enclosed pool.  There are a pair of the stone posts at the front and rear gates.

The view towards the sunflower fields. 

A closer view of the row of chaises with the blue pillows and towels.

The original barn across from the house, where the new front door is located.  The shutters were kept the original color in homage.  A new fountain was added here.

The staircase with stone steps.  Love the red and white check in the window.

The fabric on the table is "Erasmo"

The other direction.   A collection of creamware tureens.

The view from the second level down.  Notice there is a fireplace in the entry and a library on the landing.  When this photo was taken, all the curtains had not yet been hung.  Understand – this house was just finished.  Just!  The owners and designer have been posting photos of the installation for months now.  It was a huge undertaking.   Be sure to look at their instagrams (posted at the end) for all the before and during photos!!

Notice down the first floor hall, the bench in checks with a runner underneath.

The view  of the library in the landing.

And a view at dusk with the curtains now hung.

The main salon – with cream sofas and red and blue accents.

Notice all the antique portraits in oil flanking the fireplace.

Looking into the room.  Notice the Lafourcade treatment on the shelves.   Jib door past the shelves leads to the orangery.

A vignette.  Love that painting.  The curtains are beautiful, so full and lush.  Notice they are lined in check fabric!!  The details!!!

Another vignette.   The clock was inherited with the house.   And I love how Susan Long brought in color through the lamp shades!!  Love the miniature with the round, gilt frame on the side table.  All the tiny details!!!

Instead of a table, there is a square, tufted ottoman in navy.

The fireplace in the large salon.

The next room to the large salon is the dining room with its two crystal chandeliers.   The large table doubles as a library table.  This is just too pretty for words!

Notice the wood doors between these rooms are painted custom colored French blue.

Whoa!!!!!!!  Gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous!!!!!

Blue and white toile in the dining room.  Notice the chairs with the check arms and blue trim.  All tiny, but hugely important details.  Bravo to SBLong Interiors!

The view from the opposite side.  Along the back wall is a collection of creamware.

Throughout the house, Long uses collections of plates along with art work.  Notice the sconces.

The flowers in the pot differ from week to week.  Here, blossoming branches in spring.

The curtains throughout the house are just beautiful.  All are lined, mostly with a check fabric.

Instead of a pedestal – the bust is placed on a small table.

I love the check on the chairs – you can never have too many checks in one house!   With such a large family – you need large tables with lots of chairs. 

Off the dining room is the family room, kitchen, and breakfast room.   Notice the set of stairs behind the family room.

A vignette in the family room – showing the beautiful fabrics.

The large kitchen with two islands that double as extra tables.

The large kitchen.  Notice the two sinks.

Of course!  It’s France!   Those pots!

A view in the kitchen.   Behind the kitchen is the butler’s pantry which is in the former staff kitchen.

A view at dusk.   The table is all set.  Notice the sconces that flank the opening into the kitchen.

A large wood island divides the breakfast room from the kitchen.  Charming curtains!

A perfect TV viewing room for watching world soccer tournaments.  It’s France!

The mud room in what was once the barn.

Looking back into the hall behind the living room.

Prettiest mud room I’ve ever seen.  Love the blue and white checks.  Love the lantern-sconce.  Fabulous painting!!

The living room is at the right and at the left is the orangery.  I think this was once a open garage/barn. 

The tall orangery.  Two story with a balcony.  Usually these rooms in Provencal houses are typically the former barns.  

Love the fabric on the chairs.  More identical chairs are set up outside the orangery.  The owner said in an interview this was one of her favorite rooms.

And this room – with custom colored fabric and a wonderful painting with a sofa with a velvet cushion.   The custom colored fabric is the Le Manach pattern "Victor Hugo Bordures." Guess where this room is!  I don’t know!  No other photos!  I looked!  No fair!

And the charming laundry room.  With a family of nine, you need lots of towels!

The Bedrooms:

The master suite.  Look at that bed!!!   What a canopy.  And notice the Swedish bench at the foot of the bed.   Hidden between the bed and the sofa is a TV cabinet.   Closets on both sides of the bed – added after the fact.

Apparently, this was all the fabric the owner could get of this pattern.  So, the canopy was made of plain fabric.   But I think this is perfect – I love the plain cream fabric – it sets off all the patterned fabric.

Before the canopy was completed, this photograph was taken.  Such a pretty room with all the large windows.  Corner rooms make for lots of windows.

Apparently this was in the area that was once the barn and it is the room above what is now the living room.    This room connects to the upper floor of the orangery through its closet.

Two French chairs in check face the Swedish settee. 

The fireplace with two caned chairs flanking it.   Pretty trumeau.  The bathroom is seen through the open door on the right.

The master bathroom with an antique armoire and tub – right in the middle of the room.   Why didn’t they close that door?  Whoever took these photos for the rental agency needs to go back to close that door!  LOL!!

Notice the wainscot in the bathroom – and in a lot of rooms in the house.  It’s painted on!!   Details, details, details.  I’m telling you Susan Long did a fabulous job!

Ah!  Thank you!  The  door is now closed.   The shower is incredible with its matched marble.

White marble.   Terra cotta tiles. 

Now think about all the bathrooms that people are doing today using every kind of tile there is, just to be “different” – why?   Isn’t the white marble the perfect choice?

Can’t afford marble slabs like this – go for marble subway tiles.  It’s as effective as this, almost as fabulous, and it’s just as classy and chic.

Guest Room – well, this might be the prettiest of the lot.  Hard to judge.  The designer said she loved the peach fabric that was used to line the canopy.  I love the canopy –
SBLong designs for the canopies are incredible.  I love the curves on her canopies.  And notice the lantern – all the details, all the minute details, and Susan Long still took the time to put the trim on the lantern chain.  Amazing work.

Can I stay in this room?  Even if I’m not a daughter?  

I promise to be neat!

From the front – antique tufted settee.  And I love all the seagrass rugs in all the rooms. 

Notice how beautifully placed the Tree of Life fabric is – and remember, Susan Long lives in DALLAS!!!!!

Notice how perfectly the headboard’s tree melds into the canopy’s tree of life.  Perfection.

Dallas!!!!  She lives in Dallas!!!!

But this is my favorite – the oval portrait of a lady and her cat? or dog? between the luscious curtains.

There’s more!!!  Look how pretty this side of the room is – the old doors, the antique mantel, the trumeau, the antique chairs.    This room must be in an older section of the house with its beamed ceiling.

I’m sorry – there can’t be too many photos of this gorgeous bedroom!

Bathroom with marble and more marble. 

Well, this guest room is another favorite.  The check is in dark and light French blue.  The blue velvet pillows are so pretty.  The alcove with tis Pierre Frey fabric is flanked by two closets.

Love this room.

Wait I was wrong!!  Can I stay in here instead?   I’ll just move my own bags.  Don’t mean to be a bother.  Gracias!!!                    


The vanity chair – notice the check trim.  No detail is too small for Susan B. Long.

I love all her velvet pillows and the silk shades!

The reflection of the bed in the antique mirror.   Another beautiful collection of plates!

Bedroom #4.  This one is much larger than many of the other bedrooms.  The closets are painted French blue.

Though it’s larger – the ceiling is lower and beamed.  This must be in what was once an older part of the house? 

Stylized for the photos.  Perfect pillows.  I love all the collections of plates that Susan Long used on the walls.  Love how she hangs them, too!

The bathroom in the large bedroom.  Notice the pretty marble treatment.

The water closets are often hidden behind doors with glass panes.  The details!

Another view of the bathroom off the large bedroom with the beamed ceiling. 

Bedroom #5 – this is a smaller one with two flanking closets.  Just darling!!!  Again, love the pillows and the Pierre Frey fabrics.

Notice the painted base molding – with the blue stripe.  Love the way the walls were painted in this way.

And the focal point – this luscious velvet chair with blue check.  Notice how the check lines the curtains too.

Another darling bathroom with white marble, towel heaters, and other quiet luxury.

Bedroom #6 - A small bedroom on the corner which makes it extra bright and light with its many windows.  Such a pretty ribbon fabric matched with a tiny check.

I love two things especially – all the beds are made with white cotton duvets and sheets AND I love all the seagrass on the floor.  Some seagrass is layered with an antique rug, but most times, it’s left in all its glory.

The corner room with the extra windows.  Pretty trumeau.

A  closer view of the darling chair and beautiful Pierre Frey fabric.

A Jack and Jill bathroom between the two smaller bedrooms.  That marble!  This bathroom is one of the owner’s favorites, she says in Instagram.

Bedroom #7.   Pretty antique sofa.   Beautiful fabric wall behind bed.

The armoire and chair across from the bed.

Off the front of the house is the guest cottage.  You can see it here.

The utterly charming Guest Cottage – it apparently is the original house on the property.  It was renovated to accommodate two guest rooms. 

And here is the guest cottage, in what was once the kitchen.

There are two bedrooms in the guest house.  This one is gorgeous, of course!  Love this one so much!!!!!

The chintz and the blue and white check and gray chest and pink pillow – what more could you want?

And the second bedroom in the guest cottage.

Ready to go?  Or do you just want to visit virtually?  Either way, I know you had a good time.

For Rental Information go HERE

Direct Information about rental:   Le Mas des Poiriers

Intagrams  @provencepoiriers

Susan B. Long HERE.

The owner of the Mas gave the commencement speech at BYU Marriot School last year.  I found it so inspiring and I loved learning about the man behind the Mas.  Interested?  Read it HERE.

If you do read it, and also find it soul inspiring, leave me a comment.


Take me to Provence!!!!