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Dazzled.

As you know, I am not easily dazzled.

I hardly ever feature any homes on my blog because even if the house is drop dead gorgeous, there is usually something that is not quite right. Even if I want to show you a house because I think it’s great, a banister or rug can throw me off and I won’t show it to you at all. I can hardly read shelter magazines anymore because usually I am huffing and puffing to myself thinking, “Why is this house even in a magazine?” Too much money, not enough money, overzealous decorators, bad taste, and bad style are my chief complaints but mostly, I feel, no one knows how to leave well enough alone. Let me explain…

I’m talking about old houses. I don’t care about new houses. When someone is fortunate enough to be able to purchase a historical home, 90% of the time they wreck it. They usually immediately rip out the soul of the house. Old kitchens are the first to go. It breaks my heart because usually this is the best part about an old house. The floors are usually next to be massacred. A creak or a squeak is hardly ever appreciated.

For example, when I was helping my friend Diandra Douglas sell her historical villa, La Quinta, in Santa Barbara (check out my blog about her fabulous house HERE), nearly every realtor and prospective buyer who came to the house wanted to implement change. I could overhear them discussing plans to “blow out the kitchen and family room to make a great room.” Ancient terra-cotta flooring “would have to go.” If they even dared questioning the plumbing they would be shown the door because, in our eyes they didn’t deserve this villa (to put it politely).

The typically described “flaws” of an old home are exactly what I love about a house and those “flaws” are what make a house a home. You can’t buy that… Or can you?

Over the weekend, looking for inspiration for my ancient little Provence farmhouse, I was continually clicking on photo after photo on Pinterest of houses and gardens in Provence restored by Lafourcade Architects. After some research, I discovered that these beautiful mas, bastides, châteaux and hotels were restored by the family team of the Lafourcades. Bruno Lafourcade and son, Alexandre restore the structures and Dominique Lafourcade designs the gardens. Dazzled, I am.

A family after my own heart who understands the importance of maintaining the integrity of an old home. Their philosophy is explained in an article in the Robb Report. Bruno Lafourcade explains, “At the universities, architects learn how to use computers. They do not learn taste, they do not learn charm, they do not learn culture. We build with the images we carry in our heads. We must know how the local winds blow, how a tree will protect a home in the summer, and how the mistral will blow off the surrounding hills and winter. Then we must listen to the client is carefully as a doctor making a diagnosis. Do they have dogs? Do they love music? Do they love flowers? You are not merely designing a residence, you are creating a way of life.”

This “way of life” in Provence is mastered by the Lafourcade family. Restoration is a tricky subject. It takes a genius to know how to restore what needs to be restored and keep what needs to be kept. And if something needs to be restored, the artistry comes when one cannot tell what is new and what is old...To create an appearance that a home has been untouched for centuries. And that, my friends, is what the Lafourcades are all about. Take a look…



 
 
The house that broke the Internet or at least Pinterest is definitely the home of Ginny Magher, an Atlanta-based interior designer who bought and restored an ancient farmhouse in Provence with the help of Lafourcade Architects. Take a look…


 
 
 
 


The Lafourcade’s do not stop at just the structure of a home. The brilliant Dominique Lafourcade comes in towards the end of restoration and starts her work on the gardens. This is what pulls the whole house together. She knows just what a Provençal garden needs and deserves and has proven that with her own garden, Les Confines.  Cypress, olive trees in earthenware pots, wisteria and grapevines, lavender, a potager, citrus trees, irises and Russian sage. Old roses, kiwi vines and blackberries have been added because Mme Lafourcade loves the idea of grazing as you walk. “Pleasure for the eye is good, she explains, “but the pleasure of tasting and smelling at the same time, this is fantastic!”

Let’s take a look at some of Mme. Lafourcade’s work…


 
 
 
 
 


So there you have it. Our first foray into the magic of Provence. If you are in need of restoring your Provence home, my suggestion is to put Lafourcade Architects on speed dial.
http://www.dominique-lafourcade.com/en/#/Accueil

*Something you don’t know about me? Gracie is currently on the train to come to see moi. I am so excited for her to arrive but I received a text from her today as she was on the train and all I could do was burst out laughing. I thought you would appreciate it as well… (Gracie's words are in white. Mine are in blue.)

 

 

 

35 comments:

  1. BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL..........
    The TEXT is HYSTERICAL...........thanks for sharing!
    I wonder what STEPHEN will do with that..................lets wait and see!
    XO

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    1. you are the funniest person....and the most delightful person who inhabits this earth! HONESTLY!!!! Elizabeth.......you just ARE!!!

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  2. God, how I enjoy you! You are an inspiration and a treasure. Thank you so much for sharing all this beauty and I couldn't agree more about old houses. They truly do have soul and a heartbeat, which you'll definitely hear if you take the time to listen before swinging the sledgehammer. The text reminds me of the ones with my own twin teenage daughters (one of whom is named Grace!). Loved it and hope she survived the stinky ride! xo Susan C

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    1. My feeling is that she will be inspired to make her own money....and be able to buy a better ticket! That is sure how Learned I wanted to make money! Yikes!

      EEEK! I need to be HERE! And I have been working really hard ever since.......and I love love love what I have accomplished.....and I live in Paradise now! And still working with my wonderful husband at my side!! Lordy!

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  3. Ellie, this will be my first comment on your blog after reading you for one year now . First let me tell you that Gracie reminds me so much of my Emilie. The way she is describing French people, and I must confess that I am French- living in the US- is so funny and true.Then I will totally agree with you about the Lafourcade family. They are geniuses. I first discovered them reading my Coté Sud magazine . I am myself dreaming of owning, one day, an authentic house . My best wishes .

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  4. Hi Ellie, I had to smile while reading the beautiful post, I couldn't agree more with the charm of the older home rather than the "beautiful ZGallerie living" here in the states, Charm is something that can't be found at a store with a scanner. thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

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  5. DYING...over the gorgeous photos, and the wonderful Gracie! Love you! xo

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  6. reminiscent of the Romy Grace/Apricot home....The Lafourcades certainly understand the light of Provence and use a deft
    hand in presenting those grand ladies and gardens....See, Ellie dear, you are already at home among kindred spirits....
    Bon courage.... So happy your Gracie on her way to you.... The exchange between you hilarious....burka, indeed.
    Bless you for your inspiring blog....you lift my spirits and tickle my funny bone....We'd all each give anything, I think, to extract a
    share of your condition to ourselves, to lighten your load and have you blithely flourish, although, my dear, you already soar in your courage and curiosity and continue to amaze.... Eagerly awaiting your transformation of the maison.....

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  7. As far as taste goes when it comes to architecture and appreciating the beauty of "old", "dysfunctional", "out of fashion", "dilapidated", "cracked",..............the list can go on and on (!!!), you and I must be cut with the same pair of scissors!! Just as you so well say, there's a thing called taste, respect, beauty, and a real value to these structures!! I simply lose patience with people and chose to finally ignore their stupid comments for fear of imploding! Can burkas keep you from hearing as well?? ;-)
    You NEVER disappoint me! Keep me laughing, please. I LOVE reading and RE-reading every SINGLE one of your posts!
    Love always, Gloria

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  8. Dazzled is right - every image is gorgeous. So nice to hear Gracie is coming to visit you, have fun!

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  9. Ellie I can feel your happiness overflowing, and it makes me so happy.
    I lived in a historical city in Miami called coral gables. We bought our home from the original owners, it was built in 1922. They chose us as their buyers because we loved everything about the house and were not interested in tearing anything out, I had a palm beach British kitchen cabinetry firm replicate the original kitchen, it was magnificent. Eventually I got divorced and we sold the house so sad that two owners down they have added things that have just destroyed its charm, so I know what you mean.
    Gracie's text is hysterical though I understand, one of the reasons that I always try to fly business or first is because the last time we flew coach from NY there was an orthodox family with an entire deli in their backpack. It was horrific
    Thank you for the lovely photos I will be visiting!
    Xoxoxo
    Lourdes

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  10. I love hearing about you and Gracie! I have a daughter Gracie's age. Have a wonderful visit!

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  11. I love that it's such a sprawling family business. And clearly they do such gorgeous work.
    I feel like I don't like magazines anymore either and it's depressing. The kitchens drive me insane. A 30 foot island entombed in marble and a ten inch sink, though expensive, is not a kitchen. I can't be bothered with an old kitchen either though. But even in a (U.S.) "old" house, the kitchen was likely remodeled in the 1960s or 70s anyway. I can't handle the constant emotional confrontation of an old house, so you don't have to worry about me HGTVing any old houses anytime soon. Though I know I'm guilty of being like the people you hate when I look at houses.
    Yes, if Gracie adopts a burka for traveling by train we can line it with dryer sheets and she'll enjoy the scent of lavender rain or island linen the whole way.
    I know this is terrible and all but I feel like someone taking ham out of a purse is rather past the point of giving a shit--but if she took a photo, I want to see.

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    1. This is the funniest comment I have ever seen on the web!! Honestly!!

      XXOOXX!!!

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  12. Gracie has her Mom's humor gene. You two are very funny! Do you think the Lafourcades would come up to Charente? I must keep playing the Loto. Exquisite!

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  13. Aren't they amazing? I see you are wasting NO time to diving right towards the best of zee best in Provence. Are you thinking of hiring them to do a little work on the bergerie? ;) The Fourcades have worked on so many of the most beautiful houses of the Alpilles but also gorgeous wineries that you can go and visit like the Abbaye de Pierredon and the Domaine du Grand Fontanille.

    There is so much for you to discover...you will love it all...

    "She just pulled ham out of her purse" makes me laugh every single time I think about it. Many thanks to Gracie for that...
    Sending much Love and Strength to you over the hills,
    H

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    1. Those people have been redoing houses in Provence......they are flawless.....and anyone who hires them will get a perfectly Provencal farmhouse....I studied there work when built our house in Montecito 18 years ago!

      they might be horrified at the result.....I hope not. I studied at their feet!!!

      XXOO

      I love you, Ellie! And you saw it!

      XXOO

      Penny

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  14. You have brought me to my knees with these photos. I too am easily pleased, hard to impress. You my dear, and these inspirations are impressive. Keep up your zest for decorating and your zest for life!
    Gina J. in California:-)

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  15. You have graced my day with the genius and sensitivity of the Fourcade's work-thank you for sharing!! Makes the flooring of your farmhouse all the more sad, huh? Gracie is a chip off the block, so funny. Again thank you so much for sharing your life and view of it. So refreshing and uplifting!!

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  16. MY biggest LOL of the day so far!! Love it!
    These homes are breathtaking in their purity and provenance! Love the integration of the gardens and grounds and its importance!
    Thanks so much Ellie!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Sandra Goroff

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  17. Well, Ellie, you may not want to show us beautiful houses where one thing drives you crazy. But having you rip House Beautiful apart could be a lot of fun!

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  18. Such beautiful details! I think that is why I love homes that are maintained as museums so much...they have not been touched except to be cleaned or repaired. I live in Oklahoma, so we are rather limited, but two of my favorites are Frank Phillips' ranch up by Bartlesville and the Marland Mansion in Ponca City both which so wonderfully detail the lives of these oil man and their families on the prairie. Don't get me wrong, I love my indoor plumbing and modern conveniences. But, it sure seems that while there are architects and designers who have mastered the art of restoration, the vast majority of folks' focus is on modern comfort and money when the latter should not be an issue if you are going to own such a treasure, and the former can be managed. Thank you for sharing these glimpses into such beautiful homes.

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    1. Now I need t go to Oklahoma! My favorite things ever are "house museums" where people lived! those are the only ones I go to!! I want to see where and how people lived!

      (not everyone.....people with taste and style!!)

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  19. Ellie, you are so right on! The Fourcade's are Masters, not to mention super kind. I was fortunate enough to stay at Dominique's home in Provence the prior summer and it is beyond breathtaking! She took us on a tour of the gardens where she has created every last perfect detail her self. Every corner you turned either in the home or her magnificent gardens, was beyond breath taking. It is a forever favorite memory. Love your blog always!

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  20. The young are so intolerable. Sounds like something my daughter would say. Beautiful homes and landscape. Always enjoy your blog and insight into life in Provence. Thanks so much.

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  21. I am gobsmacked by this beauty and style!

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  22. Those gardens are to die for... Thanks for sharing!

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  23. LUCKY ALL OF US!!!!
    XXOOXX!! WE ALL LOVE YOU! AND GRACIE! AND DAVID!!!

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  24. Beautiful. In Canada, we have hardly any homes older than 100 years old and people are hell-bent on destroying them. Sad, really. There are a couple of original ones I have my eye on but will have to outbid sweaty contractors.

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