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Just back from six days in the French countryside and feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

Six whole days with no TV, no newspapers, no wi-fi, no crowds, no traffic and absolutely no noise.  Now that doesn’t happen often!

Nothing to do each day but sleep late, wander ancient villages, breathe fresh air and admire the tumbling wisteria that was everywhere.  Meals were wholesome, the cheese was soft and runny and the wine was plentiful.  The only thing we could have wished for was better weather, but it didn’t really matter.

And of course I’m now dreaming of a permanent bolthole.  I’m not imagining anything grand, in fact quite humble.  And the more I think about it the more my wish list grows.

Rough plastered walls, with plain wooden floors and simple country furniture.  A dresser with piles of mis-matched china but mostly in white.  A muted colour scheme, predominately whites and grays and warm, warm wood.

A huge fireplace of course and plenty of candles to make the evenings extra cosy and to make the chandeliers sparkle.  I didn’t say there would be no luxury did I?  And for adornment, an oil painting or two picked up for pennies at a local brocante.

Sofas and cushions will be covered in linen that has been washed until faded and soft to the touch and smelling of the sweet outdoors. 

Bedrooms will be particularly simple.  A headboard made out of an old door.  A chair for a bedside table.  Fresh flowers tumbling out of earthenware jugs.

And outside there will be a shady place to sit and enjoy endless meals during the summer months.  And of course a potting shed to grow vegetables and herbs.

Do you dream of a house in the country?

Image sources:

Collage 1 and 2 my own

Collage 3, 4 and 5 from Pinterest board.

 

The Vintage Archive Company was founded by two friends, Harry Villiers, founder member of Villiers Brothers, designers and makers of finely crafted original furniture since 1989, and David Riches, Creative Director of Visual Edge, the designer of publications for Liberty.

Metal cabinet partly repurposed from roller doors and featuring hand-painted advertisements and imagery from Victorian India.

Between them they have over 50 years combined experience in design and this venture is the result of a chance conversation at a Christmas party.

Alphabet chest of drawers. Upcycled from solid teak with 26 pull out drawers and a beautifully aged paint finish.

They have explored markets and secret sources in far off places, in search of vintage, upcycled furniture, toys, objets d’art, vintage posters and graphics to sell. They only choose items which are genuine, with a story to tell and the look of age is very important to them.

24” Coca-Cola enamel button sign from the 1950′s. Found in New Orleans prior to hurricane Katrina.

It could be a horse from an Indian fairground, a garden bench made from the oars of a 1930s boat, or a collection of 1930s glove moulds, which transform into a piece of installation art.

Tri-folding screen. Repurposed from an old shop front in Panjim, India, this unique screen has many layers of sign writing, graphics and paint on both sides. Each panel is made from solid teak and held together with heavy-duty hinges.

All items are total one-offs. So hurry, they won’t be around for long?

I’m a big fan of Cox and Cox and the new collection for spring does not disappoint.

Seriously, I could order the whole collection!

 

When I posted about Hilary Swanks New York apartment and her wall of wood last week it received a lot of comments.  It wasn’t the Calvin Klein furniture, the classy black and white photographs or the plush soft furnishings that got you all going, but the rough-hewn planks of reclaimed barn wood!

Desire to Inspire

It seems that utilitarian, solid, honest materials tick a lot of boxes at the moment.  It feels right to re-use and re-cycle in times of austerity and it makes us feel that we are all doing just a teeny bit to save our planet. 

Dwell

But organic materials, especially wood are also undeniably beautiful.  Whether they are used in a rustic, urban or contemporary setting, they add texture and warmth, and just the right amount of edginess.

reclaimed wood wall

Inspired Spaces

You don’t have to leave them in their natural state either.  Painted white, they still retain a rustic charm but without the log cabin effect.  Added bonus?  You can add a pair of antlers without it looking like a cliché.

white reclaimed wood wall

Decor pad

Add metal and chain mail and marble and the effect is more of an enchanted palace.

reclaimed wood wall

Houzz

And sometimes the less you do to them the better.  The different blues in this bathroom are the result of layer upon layer of paint added over the years and weathered to just the right degree of distressed shabbiness.

reclaimed wood wall

Little Blue Deer

reclaimed wood wall

Design Sponge

How cosy is this bedroom?  Don’t you just want to snuggle up under the blankets with a cup of hot chocolate?

reclaimed wood wall

Whitedriftwood Tumblr

reclaimed wood wall

Desire to Inspire

So enduring.  Built to last and it will only improve with age.

Do you like it?

I believe I may have found paradise.

Well not personally of course.  It’s a private island in the Vanuatu Archipelago in the South Pacific where there are three villages and a total of 15 villas to rent.

This beautiful island was ‘discovered’ six years ago by a couple who were sailing round the world.  It is actually owned by the community but the village elders entrusted it into their care.  Some sales pitch that must have been!

Now, 100% of the foundations profits go to help the community.

All food is either grown in the kitchen gardens, bred on the island, fished from the sea or plucked from the fruit trees.  The aim is to be self sufficient and carbon neutral.

The buildings are all constructed of wood using ecological building methods and look gorgeously rustic.  I wouldn’t mind ‘roughing’ it in these.

There may be no TV or air conditioning but it’s not all hardship let me tell you.  Just look at this over-water spa.  Now that’s what I call enticing.

Found on Welcome Beyond

Inspired by some quite beautiful shots on the portfolio website of stylist… Lucyina Moodie.

Forget the rudolfs, the santas, the tinsel and kitsch…

…bring on, restraint, and sophistication…

…with wood and glass and velvet and silk…

 …and a dash of sparkle and candlelight and flames.

Where to shop: 1.Chandelier, Heals.  Baubles, John Lewis. Hurricane lamp, John Lewis. Diamond napkin ring, Habitat. Wooden teardrop vessel, Niki Jones. Wooden bowl, Oka Direct.

Where to shop: 2.Baubles, John Lewis and Anthropologie. Hurricane lamp, John Lewis. Vases, ALSO Home, Conch shell, Oka Direct. Glass cake dome, Julietts Interiors. Driftwood mirror, Oka Direct.

Where to buy: 3.Pinecone candles, Bloom. Pair of candlesticks, mydeco. Single candlestick, Heals. Large fir cone candle, Aspen & Brown. Chaise, The White Company. Cushions, Cushion Crazy and  Debenhams.

I’m off to France next weekend with the BF and some very dear friends who happen to have a holiday home in the Charente region.  The plan is to drink wine, eat cheese and do as little as possible.  Absolute bliss.

But, as it happens, these friends have an un-renovated barn on the side of their property and if, they were to ask my opinion…

this is exactly my vision for that barn…

Now it will never have as many rooms as this of course, but indulge me for a while…I’m thinking unplastered walls, tiled floors…

Simple wooden country furniture, white linens…

These stairs would be perfect leading up to a mezzanine bedroom…

A roaring fire of course, baskets of logs and loose covered armchairs…

Rustic touches with the warmth of lamps…

Maybe seagrass flooring in the bedroom…

And yes.  I probably am the houseguest from hell!

Le Logis de Puygâty via Mr & Mrs Smith

A sneak preview from the May issue of Architectural Digest.  Gerard Butler’s New York loft…

In the actors own words “I guess I would describe the apartment as bohemian old-world rustic château with a taste of baroque.”  Dear Designer couldn’t have put it better herself!

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