Leap of faith for a historic home in France | Life and style


Aafter graduating from architecture school, Marine Bonnefoy decided it was time to get her hands dirty. “My studies were very intellectually oriented and had no connection with actual construction,” she recalls. “In the end, I hadn’t even learned what was holding up a wall.” To find out, she decided to spend a year working for a construction company. “I demolished facades with a pneumatic drill, I learned plastering, electricity and plumbing, and I made concrete. It was fantastic! ” she says.This kind of pragmatic approach has certainly helped him. She recently completed a 95 m2 apartment in the elegant Palais-Royal in Paris and is currently building homes from scratch in Marseille and Bordeaux. With each project, his approach is the same. “I don’t do anything immediately,” she said. “I just go about my daily activities and it matures in my mind. It is only after about three weeks that I start to draw. ”

She inherited her love of construction from her father, Phillipe, a retired telecommunications technician who oversaw the three-year renovation of the Bonnefoy family home. “He did it all,” she says. “He was the one who painted the stairwell precariously balanced on a ladder. And there was not just one layer, but several! He also laid the floors, installed the kitchen and bathrooms, and even made the custom chandelier in the living room.

Change of stage: the dramatic staircase sealed the deal when buying the house. Photography: Stephen Julliard

The house in question dates from 1867 and is located in a part of the Beaujolais wine region known as “Little Tuscany” for its hills and golden light. It was originally built for a family of silk producers in the nearby city of Lyon and has many of the same architectural attributes as the large apartments in this city – beamed ceilings, herringbone floors, marble fireplaces and staircase. monumental. In 1919, it was sold to a family of winegrowers who installed a large vat on the ground floor, with a hidden trap through which they surreptitiously added sugar – a practice prohibited at the time.

Marine remembers her first visit with her parents in the fall of 2014. “As soon as we saw the stairwell, we immediately fell in love with it,” she says. “Then we entered the living room and saw the view of the surrounding vineyards. I turned to my parents and said, “You have to buy it!” That said, the acquisition required a certain leap of faith. It was once occupied by an elderly woman, who had only lived in part of the house. There was no sewage system, no running water and only a small charcoal stove for the whole house. He was in the hallway on the second floor, decorated with floral wallpaper, next to an armchair covered in a pink leopard print.

For the interior, Marine made an agreement with her parents, who agreed to give her carte blanche for the decoration. She insisted that they keep absolutely nothing of their old house. The result is in line with its own aesthetic. “I don’t like things that are too sophisticated or trendy,” she explains. “I prefer sobriety, raw materials and an accessible look.” Here, his goal was to create a “soft and dreamlike atmosphere”, with a palette inspired by the environment. The grayish blue of the living room is drawn from a pine forest seen from its windows. The cuisine, on the other hand, refers to the local vineyards. Their neat lines are imitated on a wall by a geometric arrangement of bricks that Marine salvaged from a local factory.

A bedroom in earthy tones.

Change of color: a bedroom in earthy tones. Photography: Stephen Julliard

She decided to only make a few structural changes, the most important of which was to transform a series of former maid’s rooms on the second floor into a master bedroom for her parents. Much of the furniture is sourced from eBay and other websites. Marine is particularly proud to have found the set of six Colette Guéden chairs in the kitchen for just € 350 (£ 310). Other pieces were acquired due to their surprisingly unusual shapes – the side table at the Odd Matter Studio in Rotterdam and the 1940s Hungarian chairs in the living room are prime examples.

Marine has also mixed a few of her own designs, including the curvy Dialogue dining table. “Its wave-shaped outline creates a feeling of closeness and allows you to easily talk to everyone who sits on it,” she says. Among her favorite works, meanwhile, three discs covered with tiny shards of colored glass by Vincent Beaurin, which she discovered via Instagram. “He’s a color genius,” enthuses Marine. “Their tones and intensity are constantly changing depending on the daylight. You can watch them for hours. ”

Despite the fact that her parents were committed to giving her free rein, at first they were slightly baffled by her choices. “They said, ‘Not that! It is not to our liking! Marine recalls, with some amusement. “But they kept their word to help me launch my career with this project. In the end, they saw how it all came together and they really like the result. All the credit for this house really goes to them.


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