Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When people say they want to decorate
"Country French Style" it conjures up
different images. Is it all rustic, rural and
unrefined? NO, NO, and NO.
France is a small country, about the size of
Texas. When the locals talk about "la campagne"
many times they are referring to a quaint village
10 kilometers outside a major city.
The biggest misconception is that many
equate "Country French" with only the
Provence region and the bright colors it
is known for.

Luckily, I've had the opportunity to see many
"belle demeures" (beautiful residences), scattered
throughout la campagne.
Some types of homes to be found in the
countryside are:

Bastides..square or fortified homes located
throughout the countryside, many with formal
Domains..estates usually with several acres
for farming or a vineyard.
Maison de Maitre..a masters house usually
with two or three floors
Maison Bourgeoise..typically built of brick or
stone for wealthy business people. They tend to face the street
and say "Look at me."
Mas.. Farmhouses located in Provence. Normally
the house, barn and animal shelters are all attached
or within close proximity.
Chateaux & Manoir Houses... The grand
estates originally built for the landowners. Unlike
many other European countries where National
Trusts maintain elaborate properties, most in
France are privately owned.
Villas... Homes with coastal settings large and small.

As for defining the "Country French Decorating Style,"
these are my vinettes.

  • Monochromatic colors, chalky finishes and sun drenched.
  • Tile floors. Stone and clay have a way of softening the surroundings.
  • Useful spaces. Alcoves next to the chimeny for storing firewood or underneath deep windows.
  • Simple when heavy or light transparant window coverings.
  • Sinks in unexpected places..at backdoor entrances or outside.
  • Windows that open inside.
  • Furniture pieces incorporated into kitchens.
  • Antique Louis XV doors applied over plain doors, or in place of.
  • Grey and white furniture pieces.
  • Outdoor pieces such as bistro tables, iron chairs and urns used inside, in unexpected places.
  • Antique iron beds used on patios.
  • Open bookshelves used in kitchens.
  • Urns, pottery bowls and stone troughs used as sinks.
  • Anything can be made into a lamp!
  • Any antique table can have the legs shortened to use as a coffee table.
  • Farm tables used as vanities with linen lined baskets underneath.
  • Exterior iron doors used inside.
  • Striped or patinaed shutters for windows.
  • Architectural fragments used as table bases.
  • Towel warmers always.
  • Enamel house numbers.
  • Linen napkins used as window valences.
  • Trim around paneled doors lightly painted with pinstriping.
  • Highly glazed pottery used throughout.
  • Crystal chandeliers used over rustic tables.
  • Ticking and muslin used for upholstered seating.
  • Upholstered walls.
  • Bolsters used with bedding.
  • Basket with fruit, baskets with flowers and more baskets.
  • A good metal garlic press.
  • Herbs in the kitchen.
  • Course salt, never from the shaker.
  • Sugar cubes only.
  • Everday items, such as pitchers used for flower vases.
  • Lavander and beautiful soaps.
  • A dog!!

I've not seen any houses without some antiques. I guess it could be the circles I run in. The French have a wonderful way of blending rustic and frufru. I think that is the definition of "Country French." Soft textures, an appreciation for nature and her colours,and being preservers of the past.

If you would like more ideas or are searching for items to complete the "Country French Style" in your home, stop by my store, European Antique Market in Louisville, Ky., or visit our website at http://www.euroantiquemarket.com We would be glad to help and if we don't have the piece your looking for, I am heading back to France in August, and would be glad to search for you.

Time to go. Have a wonderful week everyone!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Country French Houses

Maison de Maitres, Bastides and Villas, Simply
Ooh La La!!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sublime Opulence

Monday, June 18, 2007

Say it with Country French!!!

A Glimpse of the Store

"Simply French" Cooking Classes

If you read my last post, you don't want to miss this!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cadeaux de la Vie, Gifts of the Life

When I first started my blog, my intention was to
write only about Country French antiques and
decorating. I've come to realize that is not possible.
Since deciding to follow my "Path of Passion"
(my path is cobblestone by the way) in life,
there are no distinct lines that separate personal
and professional. Those lines are now blurred.
Just as an Opera House gives impetus to a city's
cultural life, my shoppe, gives to me. It is one of
my many "Cadeaux de la Vie."
Several years after leaving my corporate job of
26 years, I was participating in a survey and
one of the questions was, 'what do you do in
your free time?" I giggled, you know that kind of
giggle you do to yourself when something is
utterly delightful. Free time as opposed to what?
That was a moment of epiphany for me. To
realize I no longer separated my life into
fragments, with labels.
So, as I blog, I want to share with you many
personal gifts I have received journeying down my
"Path of Passion." Not the type of gifts that come
packaged in ribbon and bows, but gifts given by
people, that originate from the heart.
This is the story of my 34th wedding anniversary.
My husband Carl and I had discussed a week before
where we would dine to celebrate the occasion.
He would make the reservations. We would have
an aperitif at the shoppe after closing, leave Zoe
(our Cavalier King Charles) there, have a nice dinner,
then return to the shoppe to pick up Zoe.
It was a good day at the shoppe, several new
clients, interesting conversation and a special
delivery of two dozen red roses.
The arrival of a white horse drawn carriage
on the doorstep of my shoppe at 6:30 pm.,
should have been my first clue that this would
be no ordinary anniversary.
My husband was simply setting the stage on
which he would give me, a gift from the heart,
one more time.
It was a wonderful beginning, a "Savour le moment,"
Touring along at a horse's gait, through the
streets of the Original Highlands, Zoe by our side,
and our flutes bubbling with champagne. An
hour long heightening of the senses. A new
perspective on a neighborhood, I've seen so many
times before.
Upon returning to the shoppe an hour later,
for what I thought would be to change modes of
transportation and continue on to the restaurant,
we were greeted by Chef Gregoire Guiot and
his assistant Lisa.
My husband, knowing I love all things French,
decided he would arrange for a French Chef
to cater an intimate dinner in the garden, at
the shoppe.
Enter Chef Gregoire Guiot.
We met Greg about a year ago, when he began
frequenting my shoppe. Lucky for us, his kitchen
is right around the corner. More evidence to
support the "Law of Attraction" is fact.

As I stood there, in a dream like stance,
soaking in the ambiance, Karen Carpenter's
voice was purring the melody of "We've Only Just Begun."
I tried to photograph into memory all the details,
the draped linen tablecloth, the silver reflecting
the candlelight, crystal stemware asking for my hand,
gold rimmed Limoges china dressing the table,
but the lens of my eyes were getting blurry.
My husband, standing by my side as he has for the
last 34 years, began to do that giggle, you know,
the one that accompanies the feeling of utter
delight. He knew at that moment that he had
given me another Cadeaux de la Vie.
Lisa and I cried together, for she knew too, that my
husband was giving me something special.
A part of his heart. My husband, Carl is a
"Cadeaux de la Vie."

There was no need on this night, to travel to France
to experience some of the best cuisine in the world.
Born in the Lorraine region of France, Greg
started his apprenticeship at the age of 14, studying
under world class pastry chefs in Auxerre and Paris.
After refining his culinary skills in Chicago and
Lexington, Greg came to Louisville and opened
"Mirabelle Gourmet Catering."
It was an honor to watch Greg as he performed his
passion, table side. Typical of the French, he
understands that partaking in a meal should indulge
all the senses. Not only was the French liaison
evident in his speech, but in his craft as well.
The only caterer I know of, deserving of
Trois étoiles au Michelin. I'm still dreaming of the
Steak au Poivre and crepes.
Greg and Lisa pampered our hearts throughout
the seven course meal. All of my favorites, shrimp,
moules, cheese, and potatoes dauphinois.
I was indulging like Marie Antoinette. That night
was very special for Carl and me. Greg and Lisa
went above and beyond to make it a memorable
occasion. They gave a part of their hearts.
Greg and Lisa are a "Cadeaux de la Vie."

One does not plan such feats alone. As I would
later learn, Norma, my right arm at the shoppe,
was in on the scheme. In her gentle and
motherly way, she made certain that all
details would be attended to. Norma and
her husband, Richard, readied the linens
and erased all traces from the crystal, of special
moments that had proceeded ours.
Simple things, when spoken
with the heart, become opulent.
Norma and Richard are a "Cadeaux de la Vie."

So many "Cadeaux de la Vie" have me.
Many thanks to my husband Carl, Greg and Lisa
from "Mirabelle Gourmet Catering," and Norma and
Richard for an evening I'll never forget!
Most of all Thank You for being a part of my
life, my passion!!
Oh, there were an additional ten roses in the
centerpiece. That made 34!
And if you ever need a caterer, I personally
guarantee that "Mirabelle Gourmet Catering"
will far exceed your expectations.
Visit Greg's website at http://www.mirabellecatering.org

Be sure to check back, we will be posting details
shortly announcing a series of classes, in the
French Culinary Arts, featuring Chef Gregorie Guiot
of Mirabelle Gourmet Catering, hosted by
European Antique Market.


Just a little eye candy for you and
if your summer travels bring you
anywhere near to Louisville, Ky.
be sure to stop in and say hello.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Details of a Country French Bistro Kitchen

Just wanted to share some more imported ideas

for a French bistro kitchen. Enjoy the pictures.

I will be adding more decorating tips for the

country French kitchen due to requests, but

it has been a busy week at the shop. Hopefully

I'll have some time this weekend, so check back.

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!

The pictures above are of my friend Nathalie
who lives in France. She is restoring a 17th
century farmhouse and is doing a fabulous
job. I'll give you updates during my travels.
Gotta go now