Provence, Part II: Arriving and Accessorizing After “Virtual Design”

August 6, 2012

In my first blog post about designing a client’s vacation home in the South of France, I shared some overall thoughts about virtual design and how meticulous, organized and team-oriented you have to be in order for it to be successful. In this second installment, I’m excited to talk about the accessorizing we did in the home once we arrived. It reminded me of the famous quote by American writer, producer and film director Robert Harling, who wrote Steel Magnolias: “The only difference between us and the animals is our ability to accessorize!”

Having done this project virtually, it was such a treat for my husband, Bruce, and I to see the results in person. At first, what struck me most was how seriously old the village was in which this home was located. The charm and quaintness of the town was intoxicating. Once inside the home, I was so pleased to see how all the furnishings fit the space perfectly. I then realized it was time to accessorize and tweak things.

First, I addressed the mantel on the lovely French fireplace (seen in my July 23rd blog post) and found a local antique dealer where I could purchase some leather books that would support an original oil in a creative way. I then added a candle holder and vase of flowers and — voila — suddenly the room began to feel inviting.  Nothing like books and flowers to warm up a space!

In the kitchen, we selected the broken joint tile for the backsplash from a local shop near my studio in La Grange, IL, and had the cabinets built locally as well. I added some old copper pieces that had great patina to bring a dash of warmth and character. I also visited some linen shops for tea towels and napkins. My clients had already selected some lovely dishes.

On to the bedrooms: Appropriately placing a vase here and there, as well as straw hats (all used by the owners), and detailing an empty bookcase became my next goal. For the bedroom bookcase, I collected all the pamphlets about the region, some picture frames, miniature oils and small accessories to add charm to the space. The bookcase was from a resale shop near my design studio that we had refinished and shipped over. We also had all the bedding made in the USA and shipped over as well. At the end of each day, we would have a glass of local Rose wine, some great cheese and bread and just kick back. Stay tuned for a taste of the local color in my next blog post.

The cabinets and broken joint tile for the kitchen backsplash were from the United States. The old copper pieces were purchased upon my arrival in France, and my design-savvy clients found the perfect dishes. Looking at this photo makes me want to make homemade ratatouille followed by crème brulee for dessert!

All of the bedding was made in the United States and shipped to France. In this bedroom, the existing exposed beams lent themselves as a great architectural backdrop to complement distressed-looking furniture. The nightstand you see in this photo and the smaller nightstand in the second bedroom pictured below are actually new pieces made to appear antiqued.

We accessorized by purchasing French vases and French home accents. The casual placement of the homeowners’ straw hats made for great styling in this picture, don’t you think?

For the empty bedroom bookcase, I collected all the pamphlets about the region, picture frames, miniature oils and small accessories to add charm to the space. The bookcase was from a resale shop near my design studio in La Grange, IL, that we had refinished and shipped over.

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