How Do You Decorate a French Cottage Built in 1850?

by hookedonhouses on May 5, 2009

How would you decorate a 150-year old stone cottage in France with original wood-beam ceilings? I’m guessing that “track lighting” isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.

I was looking through the real estate listings in France, just in case I want to buy a summer home there someday (why dream small?), when I came across this old cottage in the Western Loire region. According to the description, it “oozes charm but needs some decoration work.” Check out the listing to see the rest and determine for yourself what types of “decoration work” may be required.

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Amy @ living locurto May 5, 2009 at 8:19 am

I used to go through listings of Italian Villas! I can just imagine you getting caught up in the ones from France… It’s lots of fun! Unfortunately, this cottage is majorly lacking in charm! LOL! That light fixture is hideous:-)

Amy @ living locurto’s last blog post..Printable Bookmark for Mom

Nancy May 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

I am amazed at the low price. It appears as though there is alot more to do than decorate. The track lighting needs to go first. Then I would add lots of fabric furnishings, probably white, to brighten it up. Still, it appeals to me because I’d do anything to get out of Vermont!

j May 5, 2009 at 10:05 am

Track lighting, gone. Garish patterned fabrics, gone. I agree – white everywhere: curtains, bed linens, furniture when possible. Yellow & green door in kitchen, gone; and paint the cabinets and walls white. Otherwise I wouldn’t change a whole lot; just add small pops of color in the rooms to keep it from being sterile, and LOTS of fresh flowers. 150 years old is practically new in Europe, right?

desiree May 5, 2009 at 10:15 am

WOW! Where is the charm? I’m afraid this needs a lot. The lighting…then all the furnishings need to go out and start with a fresh coat of paint…

Susan Lang @ Designing Your Dream Home May 5, 2009 at 10:26 am

I would remove all furnishings, window treatments, rugs (especially that green one on the floor next to the fireplace), pictures off the wall, and yes, the track lighting…and possibly the copper piece above the mantle. Once everything is removed, I would then decide if anything needed to be done with the brick around the fireplace, the copper piece above the mantle, painting the walls,…hard to tell in the photo. I wonder if there are some wooden floor under the tile? Then, I would begin to to “paint” this blank “canvas” with furniture and accessories.

Susan Lang @ Designing Your Dream Home’s last blog post..Staircase Railings Part Five: Mistakes to Avoid

PlantingOaks May 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

Wow, did you notice how low the beams were in the bedroom? Historic to when people were four feet tall!

Acutally, I think you’re right j, for France, the 1850s is probably the equivalent of a house from the 80′s in the states – just old enough to be unfashionable. No wonder they thought the track lighting was a good idea!

AnNicole@OurSuburbanCottage May 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

Hmmm, it looks like there’s a bit of sprucing up to do, but I would DEFINITELY be up for the challenge. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to have a home there?!

AnNicole@OurSuburbanCottage’s last blog post..Giveaway at The Lettered Cottage

from the right bank May 5, 2009 at 12:35 pm

That’s my dream too, Julia! I would throw out every last thing that’s in there now and drive around the countryside for light antique pieces to fill it. How fun would that be? :)

from the right bank’s last blog post..An Artful House

TheOldPostRoad May 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I could certainly stand to live in a stone cottage in France! My house was built in the late 1850′s (in Georgia, U.S.). But since Georgia is not France, we have 11′ ceilings – to help with air flow during the long, hot, humid summers. We also have 9′ tall windows. Quite a different situation. Our doorknobs are low, as is the stair railing on the 2nd floor – people were certainly shorter before grocery stores!

TheOldPostRoad’s last blog post..Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Emily@remodelingthislife May 5, 2009 at 12:42 pm

My parents have a rental home in France that looks so much like this. They decorated it in light airy pieces from Ikea, slipcovered couches and chairs, and some simple antiques. Really nice.

Emily@remodelingthislife’s last blog post..My Frugal Excuse For A Curtain

Visual Vamp May 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm

OMG I have looked at so many photos of holiday homes like these. They all seem to be under decorated for sure with cast offs, and ugly furniture. I can stay home for that ha ha.
xo xo

Billy May 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Is the cross beam of the roof truss really 4 ft from the floor or is that a forced perspective issue? If it is then this would be a pass. Even Patz and Eddie’s French rental cottage you could walk around the loft.

Trisha Jones May 5, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Oh my gosh! Buy now! But now! BUY NOW!!! This is so beautiful inside and out… aside from, what the listing says, its need for “decoration work.” I would stick to only local or regional textiles, drapes, tablecloths, and rugs. Stick a few recessed cans into the ceiling between the beams and you’ve got your direct lighting without that ugly appendage sticking out from the ceiling. Plus, recessed lighting is easy to install.

Astrid May 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Does it have a kitchen? I didn’t see one. Not much point to owning a house if it doesn’t have a kitchen. I think the realtor needs to rethink “oozing charm”.

Astrid’s last blog post..Expo & More…

Kim @ Everything Etsy May 5, 2009 at 7:57 pm

I think I’m more about “location, location, location!” I’d take it, but I’d have to remove everything inside and start over. All it needs is a little love, paint, and pretty stuff. Oh, and don’t forget my family!


Angela (Cottage Magpie) May 5, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Wow, yeah, track lighting just *screams* historic French, doesn’t it? But like others said, location is the key, decor can always be changed. But it does boggle the mind what some people will do to a perfectly lovely home. Yipes.
~Angela :-)

Kellye May 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I think it “settled” a little too much for my taste! I would get a home inspector (do they have those in France?) out there ASAP to do a stability check!

Mom in High Heels May 6, 2009 at 1:53 am

If you look at it, it’s not really that bad. I mean it IS, but mostly it’s cosmetic. If you pull all of that insane stuff out it would have immediate charm. Go to one of the super fab French flea markets (OMG, they are so wonderful), pick up a few weathered pieces and it would be lovely. Well, okay, the kitchen needs some serious revamping (what is with that green sink and the green and yellow panels in the door?), but it could be lovely with some simple changes. Is that linoleum I spy? Good heavens. I’ll bet there’s probably either beautiful flagstone or wood under it. The outside is adorable! I would plant ivy and other climbing vines around it, pull up whatever those sad plants are and replace them with lavender and bulbs and trim back the insanity going on around the courtyard. Oh, I can already see it in my mind. It’s 83,000 Euro, which is about $110K US. That’s not bad for a little piece of France. Maybe I can ask for it for Mother’s Day. Now I’m off to browse other properties in France.

Mom in High Heels’s last blog post..Randomness all around!

ida May 6, 2009 at 11:19 am

i used to go threw listing in hawaii…… i could only afford a studio. i fully agree about the track lighting in that room.

SoBella Creations May 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm

The makeover on the fireplace would do wonders for the place. And the lighting needs to be current without being too modern.

SoBella Creations’s last blog post..Indie Spotting

Susan May 28, 2009 at 8:11 am

LOL…Guess they don’t have staging experts in France, huh…cause that would have been the first thing “outta here!” :-) It’s a great room though, minus the track lighting. Buy that great place in France, Julia, and we’ll ALLLLL come for a visit! :-) Susan

Susan’s last blog post..Welcome to the 40th Tablescape Thursday!

June May 28, 2009 at 9:57 am

What a cute cottage! It does have quite a bit of potential. I think I would get rid of the track lighting and use lots of pretty lamps for soft lighting.

June’s last blog post..Spring Cleaning Party Clean Sweep Day 2 Part 2

Gina @ The Shabby Chic Cottage May 28, 2009 at 10:06 am

Someone must have gotten a deal and a half on that light because it sticks out like a sore thumb. Thanks for the dreamy spot, though!

Jennifer @ Blogging God And Me May 28, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Hey, how did you get a picture of my french cottage? Just kidding. That was too funny.

Jennifer @ Blogging God And Me’s last blog post..Lamp Party At The Nesting Place!!

Cathy @ The Stylish House May 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Hi Julia,
Isn’t it fun to look at homes from around the globe? I dream and imagine how fun it would be to live in some of these far away places. Yes, this cottage would take elbow grease to make it shine, but what a fun challenge it would be. ~Cathy~

Cathy @ The Stylish House’s last blog post..Lampapalooza Party!

Amanda@ImperfectlyBeautiful May 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I think that little cottage is absolutely adorable…minus the decor and furniture and hideous track lighting, of course! It has HUGE potential for greatness!


Amanda@ImperfectlyBeautiful’s last blog post..Nester’s Lampapalooza 2009!

Mary Lou June 4, 2009 at 6:07 pm

If only I had that very unfortunate task to worry about in real life. Hee-hee! Wouldn’t it be delightful?

Mary Lou’s last blog post..Wednesdays With My Mom (and giveaway reminder)

Robin June 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Wow, that’s painful to look at.

Nathan September 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

At least get that ugly light fixture in black so it doesn’t jump out. Better yet, replace it with something else.

Track lighting fanboy June 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Great article. I recently put up some track lighting without a sweat. :) I love the way it looks and the lighting it provides in that area of my house. I would really recommend it to anybody that is thinking about installing it.

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