Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beaune: Petit Salon

Continuing on the tour of our work-in-progress, let me show you the first floor of the house in Burgundy....

At the end of the ground floor entry hall of the house, the new bedroom is on the right (see my last post on the rez de chaussez), and the door leading to the the little terrace is ahead of you. Turn to your left and go up a series of very old limestone stairs. Up at the landing, the entrance is to the kitchen is ahead of you.

Why don't I have photos of the kitchen? I have its measurements, but no photos. It is very small but has the same heavy beamed ceilings as the rest of the house. The wallpaper will be Pierre Deux Houdan in yellow, and my dream is a La Cornue range and oven and new Ikea cabinets at some point; right now the kitchen says 1970's.

Turn right instead of going straight into the kitchen, and you enter the Petit Salon. The names for the rooms are the ones the family before us used. This is the view you see when entering the room; this is from February 2 years ago, when I was there alone and I had taken the overdrapes down for cleaning and dipped the sheers myself. Sorry for the flash, but this gives you an idea:

The ceilings of the room are over 13 ft high, and the walls are padded silk and cotton from the 70's, which keeps the house reasonably warm since the house is stone, tile and timber. The four prints are from a great book I have, and they were one of the first things we brought in, yes, on the plane with us. Their finished size was a little larger than I wanted but they are ok for now. The Chinese altar table beneath is from Lyon, though the table is blocked in this pic by the mirror which was later hung in the WC downstairs; I long for the day when everything is in its place. The room is basically divided in two: the dining area on the left, and the sitting area on the right.

When the previous owners bought the house around 1970, they renovated it using all old materials; except new electrical and plumbing of course. The floors of the Petit Salon and Grand Salon are what the French call tomette, terra cotta 6-sided tile. We were told that these were "very old." What do you do with such great floors? We want to protect them, but also show them off. I stuck moleskin pads on the bottom of every chair leg that touches the floor, so that the tiles won't get scraped. R and I have long debated getting a rug or two to separate the seating areas here, but so far we have not been able to find a good solution. When the previous owners bought the house, which was built in the 17thC, it was in a generally original state, which meant that what are now petit and grand salons were warrens of about 10 tiny rooms on each level; each room with its own fireplace; the fireplaces all connected to a common flue on each salon level; they were redone using the tomettes and the two floors are now completely open. You'll notice there is no WC on this floor, which is another reason why we really wanted to create a powder room downstairs.
One of the first pieces we bought was this tapestry from Tony (Bella Casa in Newport Beach). It was far cheaper to find a tapestry in California than in Europe. I spent several weeks sewing the border on by hand in CA, and sewed on a new backing; R carried it to France and hung it with help from his friend Michael. Here is the whole tapestry as it fills the space, with the low lighting; it is of a courtly scene and has several scenes of the hunt as well:
There is another photo below with full light; when we hung this, we decided the tapestry would set the color scheme for the whole house; we loved the rich tones...it is spectacular in the room and very soothing.

The dining chairs are a very common style called os de mouton or "sheep's horn", which we bought in three lots locally. I adored the seafoam green silk velvet fabric from Silk Trading Co. that Lady de Rothschild showed in one of the shelter magazines on her dining chairs; it would be perfect on these chairs in front of the tapestry, and so I bought the last 17 yards of it available in the U.S. as it was being discontinued; until I tested it with red wine and saw how red wine sticks to silk velvet; Oh No! Can't have that then; some of our guests get pretty happy with their red wine. Though it is so pretty, that fabric is still on the roll at the house. Instead, I had all the chairs slip covered in vintage cotton/linen sheeting purchased from a dealer in town, expertly made by our seamstress; she is FAB and has done a lot of great work in the house; here is the room with the drapes back and the lights on; the two large windows face out to the street in front, and here the shutters (volets) are closed; you can see the thickness of the stone walls behind the drapes:
There is a buffet beneath the tapestry that you can't see here, but there is little space on the left side of the room at the end of the dining table. I really need a better space for serving, but of course the walls are fabric, and food and wine needs to be kept away from them, so I serve most food family-style on the table.

At the other end of the room, we have seating and an antique marble mantel. My dream is a pair of Italian consoles and paintings flanking the fireplace; right now we have local and Ebay Scandinavia paintings. I may put a cheap pair of Ikea console tables there and have them skirted and so hidden; or else something from Mis en Demeure, but will those be too small? The fireplace is not centered on the wall, unfortunately:
The mirror was bought down the street from Marie-Paul; it is very tall and decorated with rosettes and garland; R loved it;
to the right of the fireplace is the bibliotheque; a very old Provencal blue-grey painted piece. We got this (and a few other pieces) from a warehouse antiques dealer in town; at the end of a tour of the warehouse, R asked me what one piece I would buy, of course it was this one; he didn't really care for it at the time, but he bought it for me; it is feminine and wonderful and our only painted piece so far. It fully demounts, and it took the antique dealer a while to get it reassembled perfectly; I love the chicken wire front, the old interior hardware and the enormous key that locks the doors:
We got a set of 2 red chairs and matching sofa on 1st Dibs Paris, and the sofa barely fit going up the staircase; the alternative is through the window, like most of the neighbors do when they move furniture in or out; the road is single cobblestone lane, so the scissor lift blocks the street for a while, and we all come out to watch the operation. I want to slipcover the red velvet, and angle the two arm chairs in front of the fireplace, but I think we need a few more pieces, and some professional advice. The pair of River of Life vases came from CA, the blue Japanese fish bowl vase is antique Japanese from Laguna; most of the blue & white you find in France is much smaller Delft, and we needed something slightly larger here; a decorator would probably tell me to find some demijohns for on top, but I have those downstairs and wanted blue and white here. I am still hunting for a perfect coffee table for this spot; here too are the red velvet chairs; the matching sofa is now opposite the chairs:

We tend to use this area before dinner and for breakfast. Meals are important times as the food in Burgundy is so wonderful and no matter where everyone is during the day, everyone assembles for dinner. For the table, I have assembled a large collection of white Limoges with gold band; I think it is perfect because while it is old, it still looks contemporary, and it's simple. You can find these pieces so reasonably in the US on Ebay, there were so many brides over the years that bought it at all the best U.S. department stores. It's very hard to find in France though, and every time I got on the plane, my carryon was full of Limoges, making its way back to France. The soup bowls are used all the time for the moules-frites:
I'm always picking up antique porcelaine blanche: soupiere, saucieres, raviers, plats ronds, ovales, plat de poisson etc. I got this 19th C soupiere down the street at Marie-Paul; we use it for moules frites mostly; it's one of my most loved pieces. The little lion's head minis in front of it come from the grocery store for 1 euro. One of the local restaurants serves you chocolate mousse from a very large lion's soupiere; the French love them:
I'm ready for you to come visit....here was an inventory shot of some kind; that red-wine stained swatch of silk velvet is on the corner of the table, so this was a while ago.
we move on the grand salon tomorrow.....


  1. I love the painted piece paired with the blue and white porcelain. I think I may be inspired to bring some of my Chinese imports to the beach!

  2. The rustic beams are just magnificent. I plan on coming back and studying the photos in greater detail. Mr. Decor is sitting right next to me and is anxious to view your previous photos. :) Plus, I really should be studying.