Last Fall, we were at the house in Montagnac for five weeks, so we had a chance to relax and do some exploring that we hadn’t been able to do during our first time living there. Our first trip there (after we had bought the house) was jam-packed with back-to-basics decorating. This more recent trip, we had the indisputable FUN of being able to pick out little things that were not necessary, but added so much to the cozy, homey feel of the house. We will be heading back to Le Bijou in just a few weeks, and will be there for a record six weeks this time!! I will blog on our adventures regularly, this Spring.
For now, here are a few of the treasures we added to the house during our last trip.
The tower stairway ~
We found this gorgeous antique confit pot at an open-air antiques market (one of two annual antiques fairs in our neighboring town of Pézenas) and our dear friends, Dan and Lisa, who were with us, gave it to us as a house-warming gift! It was just what I had been looking for, and I had an idea that I wanted to fill it with lavender, but had trouble finding big bunches of it, off-season. Luckily, we just happened upon a dozen bunches of dried organic lavender, in an herb shop in another town. I LOVE the way this looks in the corner of our stairway. It really brightens up the space.
On a sightseeing trip North toward Millau, we chanced upon a brocante shop and its new owner, who had literally purchased the shop just a few days earlier. He was in the process of cleaning up and reorganizing what he had “inherited” from the previous owner, and we spent a fair amount of time poking around there, and chatting with him. We came away with a set of three large brass plates, which are hammer-embossed with scenes of local life during some past era. One plate, above, is an oval. We hung the other two – both round – on the lower set of stairs. I polished them ’til they shone brightly. (Let’s hope they are still looking polished, when we return, several months later!) The plate, below, has a humorous barroom scene, showing one cheater being chastised and hit by the rest of the card players, in his group. The third plate depicts a barber shop! The plates are a part “chateau” style and part just silly, but they do enhance the stairway, the brass adding brightness and interest to the otherwise plain stone walls.
The kitchen ~
We added several copper pots to the kitchen wall. We had found the exact thing I had been looking for, the previous Spring – a gorgeous old copper jam pot – and had not had time to hang it on the wall before leaving France. So…that was the first thing I wanted to hang when we got back last Fall. Of course, you can’t have too much of a good thing, (at least this is what I keep telling Jack!) so we kept our eyes open and found a number of other old copper pots and a wonderful jelly mold, to add to the jam pot. I just love the collection we assembled.
Most of the pots and pans are usable, including the jam pot, center, which I will use a lot. I have two French copper jam pots at home in Massachusetts (one from my sister, Liz, and one from Jack), and have been known to lug one of them to and from France in the past, so I could make fresh French berry jam, to bring home and savor throughout the year. (Okay, call me nuts, but I love making jams – especially with the fresh, local fruits we find at the markets in France!)
We also found a number of old plates and pottery, to add a few more charming touches to the kitchen.
Above and below: Pottery (faïence) from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and elsewhere, all in the blues, greens and ocher yellows of our region.
The master bedroom ~
This quilted bedspread (boutis) and set of matching pillow shams did so much to make the master bed look more inviting! I made the little throw pillow from a cotton napkin I bought at the Souleiado store in St.-Rémy-de-Provence, a couple of hours East of Montagnac.
I am a huge fan of Marye-Kelley découpage and it seemed like the perfect match for Le Bijou. I brought several of her beautiful découpage plates to France, as well as wastebaskets, picture frames and other items.
Jack found this little gold cherub years ago. I think he was supposed to be a Christmas gift for me, but he became a denizen of Jack’s “wine cellar” (ie, stone basement with wine in it!) I had not planned on using the red embroidered ribbon here (I actually got it with the guest room in mind), but it pops against the lime gingham, and brings out the red accents in the floral fabric and lampshades.
A Marye-Kelley wastebasket and frame, along with a Souleiado frame given to me years ago, by my friend, Ginger. The cute little brass desk lamp was a 5-step process. The lamp came from an antique shop in Pézenas, but had to then be rewired by Jack, with supplies from our favorite hardware store. We found the white shade at a discount store, the fabric on the shade is from our local fabric gals in Pézenas, and the trim we brought with us from US.
Above, Those lovely cache-pots (vintage German) belonged to my parents. I believe they came from my grandmother. Unfortunately, one broke during shipment to France, but I found Super Glue, and pieced it back together. After all, it has a lot of family history! They were always on my parents’ living room mantlepiece, and I think of Mom and Dad whenever I look at them. The revolutionary war theme plate in the center is flanked by two more Mary-Kelley découpage plates, and the little statue is of Jack’s great-grandfather, architect of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It was a gift from Jack’s Dutch cousin, when they stopped by Montagnac last year.
The chairs are new. I just didn’t have the heart to reupholster the ones we had inherited with the house – they were UGLY! We put those out on the sidewalk and a cute young nurse stopped and said she would love to take them and fix them up for her apartment. Different strokes for different folks!
As a temporary measure, until we find a loveseat or couch that we like, we decided to cover the old one with provençal fabric we got in Aigues-Mortes, in the Langudeoc part of the Camargue. The very next day, we visited Souleiado and got the big pillows there. The bird pillow is from Etsy.
The pièce de résistance – a big oriental carpet to warm up the room. We talked an antique shop owner into parting with two (one for here and one for the guest room) that he was planning to use to decorate his shop.
The guest bedroom ~
We love the colorful guest room carpet. Between that, and the addition of the two faux bamboo chairs that we brought up from the kitchen, the room really came together.
Two vintage Lunéville “Old Strasbourg” plates on either side of an old Lunéville platter (same pattern) are flanked by traditional green urns from Provence. I bought the wheat and lavender at the outdoor market in our town.
We are so satisfied with all of these little touches we added to Le Bijou. I guess you could say they are the jewels within the jewel!