Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rez de Chaussee - Beaune

Are you ready to start the tour of our house in Beaune? I don't have pics of everything, but you will understand based on what I will show you; let's set the tone with this shot, which is the view out of our third floor window, the grand salon; the church bells ring the quarter hours; I relax just looking at this photo.
Beaune is a rich and beautiful city, with origins in the Greek and Roman times. The central sections are within the walled ramparts, and the city is always turned out, here in the fall with the city-maintained hanging planters full of mums; there are always tons of municipally-maintained flowers around town:

Many of the buildings are white stone; again here with the hanging mums; they are spectacular and you see them seasonally dressed all over the city:
towers and flowers....
and the buttresses of the Romanesque church, which is where I go when I am in town; you are constantly surrounded by ancient architecture:
The antiquaires in town have reproduction pieces at all price levels:
There are authentic old pieces for sale in town too; I will have the masons make something similar for us from local limestone; this is a great inspiration....love the little 2x4 propping up the basin...
Our house is within the oldest part of town. It can be best described as a "town house" in that it is 4 stories and has a small stone courtyard in back; the wall behind the house dates to Roman times. There is no garden or land other than that, but it is also centrally located, and very secure. The front door is solid but hides what is behind:
The common entrance to the house used to be through the courtyard in back, which went down into the extensive cellars of one of the most respected families in the city. The house was their former "reception house," where they entertained guests and had corporate meetings and a few guests spent the night. After we bought the house, the cellar entrance was unfortunately but understandably sealed off.

When you come in the front door, there is a long central hall; I am sorry I can't find a photo, but the white stucco walls are lined with enlarged, framed 1910-ish postcards of Beaune. More on those later. To the right is the heating and utility room. To the left was a plaster and stone room, intended for a wine cave. The space was rather large for a private cellar and we wanted a powder room on that floor. So, from this shell space we made a new space, and though I am not a pro, I am very proud to have designed this new space. Less than perfect antique furniture is cheap locally, so we bought a basic armoire and had it cut it in half and flipped the sides and the doors; the carpenter ran with the idea and executed it perfectly; the mirror surround was stained to match the armoire after this photo was taken:
We had no laundry in the house when we bought it, so we decided to create one, in one half of the armoire; the light comes on with the contact, when you open the door; that was one of many bells & whistles added in collaboration with our local craftsmen and tradesmen; every local person who comes to see this room is amazed; it really is geniale! :

the other side holds....
...storage and cleaning supplies:
the mirror and sink were taken from the adjoining room (more in a minute) and the sink matches the ones up in the bedrooms; the antique sconces were found locally; I will cover the bulbs one of these trips...
here is a close up of the pretty sconces:
We found the 50's wheat light fixture at a vide grenier for 4o euros; it works; the wine dammes Jeannes aka demijohns were found at Patrick's, the local brocanteur....
The counter space under the sink was filled with an old dough-box, bought from the same warehouse dealer as the armoire; the dough-box top was salvaged to make a counter for folding laundry; this window opens to the street:
on the wall opposite the sink, we put a toilet; you can lock the door when you enter.
on the wall behind you will see my collection of locally-found b&w vendage photos, also from Patrick; I have them all here in CA, reframed to bring back this fall...the femme de vendage is my favorite.
We cut the wine cellar down, to half the room; the door from the powder room leads to the cave, but it is locked and climatized:

this is what the cave looks like; the floor is pea sized gravel over dirt, for humidity; I bought the chewed up L.P. table on Ebay France for $80. There is an antique lantern-light in here too; we layer in more wine on every trip so a racking system will soon be a priority. He and I can't agree on what kind of racking we want, yet.
At the other end of the hall, there is a room that used to be the vestaire, or cloak room, that we decided to make into a third bedroom. There were two W.C.'S and a large double sink and mirror and two sconces. We cut the sink and mirror down, to use in the new powder room/laundry room. This room used to have a pale green wallpaper, removed here, as were the entry doors to the room; one look at this photo and I remember all the dust that came with the work. The gold mirrors and works on paper sitting on the floor will be hung on the wall opposite the bed one of these days:
I had the walls covered in a faux raffia/seagrass, in case of moisture, and the effect was to lighten the room significantly and make it less dungeon-like as it was dark before; it opens out to the courtyard:
from the opposite side of the room, you can see the champagne silk drapes, which I had made locally from yardage brought from the US; we have an excellent seamstress in Beaune and she has made most all of the pillows and sewing; you will see her slipcovers upstairs; you can't see the rows of pleats at the bottom of these drapes, but they are full and lined and they make me very happy....
instead of a headboard, I framed vintage silk damask panels that I have had for decades....this is not put together yet, but you get the idea here below; you can't see the pattern and color here, but it is shades of melon and tangerine; the sconces are the same ones that were originally there, though we added a dimmer to them; they are more for ambiance than for reading; if you are on the side with the table lamp of course you are fine to read, but not on the other side:
The footed candlestick lamps were found in Tustin for $50 each, though they are dead ringers for French ones; you will see the other one on R's desk upstairs. I had high-end silk box-pleat shades made for them in CA to replace the heavy black shades they came with; the pleated silk ones weren't cheap but they make the lamps....the bed linens are from White House the British vendor; they are fine for now, but I will replace them with Matteo on a future trip, thanks to Oma at Cargo & Company. Here is a pic of the corner; the locals who come to see this room think it is an amazing transformation and very light for a formerly dark space; it is now R's favorite room to sleep in; we found the round deco table at Patrick's:
I bought a pair of antique cream and gilt Italian stools from Tony's Bella Casa in Newport, and had them upholstered in the silk (the remaining silk was split in two and framed for the panels); love them; you can see the pattern and color of the silk damask here. The problem (there is always a problem!) is where to hang the guests' clothes? This corner is the only space free. Luggage on the stools was my first thought, but they are so fine; do I want someone's well-traveled luggage on those stools? A rolling rack or luggage rack or bonnetiere or simple hooks on the wall? I might move the pair of stools over in front of the window, as long at the radiator is not on. R found a deco cabinet but I nixed it as bulky and not very functional. Note the floor here; the entire entry hall and ground floor is this: rosy marble with black cabochons; I used the deer skin on it only, maybe seagrass later. The marble is so cold on your feet in winter, when I'll use fur on the bed.
At the far end of the room there used to be two WC's; one is now a toilet and sink, and I hung a big antique mirror there; the tiny cow painting (now on the round table next to the bed) will go opposite; the sweet little sconces in there (the second one is over the toilet) are local and the bulbs will be covered. Yes, the corner sink is so tiny; we only had the normal space for a toilet to work with:
the other side is a glorious tiled shower, designed and selected by R:
I will show you the second floor tomorrow...

What do you think? Let me know! Are you ready to come visit yet?


  1. Yes......I am packed and ready. No wonder you are always so busy. I can't believe you bought a place in France.....such a clever girl! Much love XO

  2. Pardon me while I go empty my drool pan. :)

    You do know that I have a passport ready and willing?

    I am SO glad that you liked your gifts. I was on pins and needles thinking, We'll she open this and ask herself "Why did she send me old sheets?" :)

    What markets are you selling at this weekend. We'll stop by.

  3. Beautiful!! Yes, a visit would be wonderful!