Thursday, May 26, 2011

House & Home (Ireland) May 2011

French women are known to have a certain style. The whole French way of life has an illusion of being wonderfully finished; from the tiniest gateau in a box tied up with pretty coloured ribbons, the magnificent chandeliers and sumptuous table settings of a Chateau, the produce display at the weekly market or a classic Chanel black quilted handbag, it’s there, that indefinable a ‘je ne sais quoi’ about things, that defines all aspects of French living.

Add the style and flair of an Irish woman, who with her impeccable taste and high standards transformed an old Provencal village dwelling into a little nugget of luxury.

Rosemary Roberts is a hands-on perfectionist who embraces old and new, then adds her own personal style and her stamp of high quality and in Provence, where she spends part of each year, she has, in the village of Aups, nestled among the olives trees and the lavender fields of the Var, created a superb, sophisticated, comfortable house. Small it may be, but the place is top notch French living.
As I round the bend and the vine covered terrace comes into view, I marvel again at what happens when style, exquisite taste and rigorous standards meets old-fashioned French craftsmanship.

Under the vine leaves is an enchanting outdoor eating area. Alfresco dining, the large table is always smartly dressed, even for breakfast. Stylish doors lead into the living space, elegant but with an immensely cosy feeling.

It’s a comfort zone with a big squashy sofa to sink into; a place to read, watch TV or listen to music. The beautifully lit, tiled kitchen area is within a hand’s reach and with background colours muted, provides a great backdrop for paintings, plus of course, the essential Nespresso coffee maker.

On the other side of the room, where the dazzling light of Provence pours in – shaded by antique lace on the windows – stands a magnificent specimen of that classic French item, a massive wooden Armoire. It is chock full of magnificent glassware and tableware and holds a vast selection of wine.

Rosemary’s furniture ‘finds’ and her expertise at turning them into treasures is obvious, especially upstairs in the master bedroom. She has restored the antique chests of drawers entirely by hand and has had authentic period chairs re-covered in specially sourced fabric appropriate to their age. She then had the audacity to mix in sleek modern lamps, window shutters and ironwork painted gleaming white and added dazzling white blinds.

This feeling of cool, even in the scorching heat of a Provence summer is unexpected, wonderful.
Downstairs, guests are pampered in their own small suite. The huge, comfortable, well dressed bed is flanked by tables with books and flowers. Lighting is soft and soothing and here again there is that glorious, almost daring mix of old and new styles, textures and colours.

Everything blends perfectly, and while it may effortless it has all been carefully planned, down to the tiniest detail, by an expert. The placement of every item has been carried out with precision, from the exact positioning of the smallest lamp to the coloured buttons on scatter cushions, the sumptuous tie backs on curtains.

Rosemary, possessing that superb combination of a keen eye, a real love of luxury and a fastidious attention to detail, never ventures into the world the French call ‘ordinaire’. This marks the distinction, the clear difference between someone who simply lives in a comfortable space and someone who takes that space and transforms it into a haven of beauty, elegance and style. Her cool, glamorous, comfortable surroundings seduce us, makes the visitor want to stay; one longs to go back there again and again.

1 comment:

  1. This is my second visit to this post, and both times there's been some problem with the site bringing up this box for comments. so now that it's working, I'd like to say how lovely the pictures are and how beautifully they convey the ambience of a gem of country living.

    Well done!