Saturday, 8 October 2011

When 18th Century meets 21th Century.....

Out of Love for the Dordogne

Only love can explain why someone choose to restore a ruined castle,
a run-down manor house or an old farm house.

Contemporary art dealer Willy d'Huysser and interior architect   Anne Derasse
became passionate about an authentic castle 
in the Charente, just right at the border to the Périgord - only 30 km from were we live,
and set up the protracted restoration of this listed monument.

Whilst awaiting the end of the restoration work,
they also renovated two other buildings on the site:
an orangery and an 18th Century house.

 The present castle, with its fully restored roofs,
and the two other buildings were constructed 
on the site of a fortress that was destroyed during the Hundred Year's War.
The castle itself dates from 1453 and includes two towers
that were part of the defences of the original fort.

The two buildings, set at right angles to each other,
were apparently built from the stones that made up the original fortified stronghold.

When designing the orangery, Anne Derasse was captivated
by the rhythm of these five existing apertures,
which are separated by columns.

The former false ceilings in this old building were taken out
to reveal the magnificent beam construction.
The beams were retained and now create a loft atmosphere in the orangery.

The interior consists of one large open space with khaki-coloured cubes
containing a bedroom and en-suite bathroom installed on either side of the fireplace.

The INSA sofas, placed in parallel with the beams above, increase the sense of perspective.


The white lime stone on the floor was quarried locally and rough-cut into 120 x 60 cm slabs.
The pieces of furniture (coffee tables, tables, work surfaces in the kitchen)
all have the same dimensions: 150 cm on each side.


The large bedroom, in red brick shades,

...also has a bathroom wit tub and shower in the same block.

'Dornbracht' taps.


 The two en-suite bathrooms are finished in local stone
and built according to the same principle:
with a wall that serves both as the head of the bed and as a partition behind the bathtub.



 The slanting wall of the small house...

 ...indicates that is was simply built up against the medieval wall of the fortress.

In order to accentuate the authentic character,
the ceiling beams were left exposed and whitewashed.

The solid wooden door is tall and narrow:
it stands beside the kitchen work surface 
and leads from the kitchen into the bedroom area.

Everything in this space was designed by Derasse and made in oak,
with the exception of the ACCADEMIA chairs,
which have been finished in twine to underline the rustic character of the building.

The only bedroom in this house combines the simple character of the stone...

 ...with a more contemporary storage unit,
made of MDF and painted in pale green.

 A harmony of ceramic and natural stone for the washstand.

 The sole exception to the locally sourced stone
is the 'Pietra Serena' neutral stone chosen for this space,
which comes from Tuscany.

The interior architect Anne Derasse 
has displayed the essence of her skill in this project,
whilst maintaining the integrity of every room:
a sharp feeling for colours and lines 
that can be seen in every detail.

Truly a happy 'marriage' when 18th Century meets 21th Century

Happy Weekend !

All images from Beta-Plus
Photographer:  Jean-Pierre Gabriel

see also:


  1. Very distinguished!

    Great work!

    Have a lovely sunday tomorrow!
    Gut Nacht!
    ♥ Franka

  2. Karin ~ A lovely place, filled with such charm! The stone, the ceilings, the windows...the perfect shade of French Grey!

  3. Great example of reworking the old to live in the new! hope you're having a great weekend

  4. How interesting that they choose modern contemporary designs for the interior.

    Excellent post, thank you.

  5. Splendid. I love "old" skilfully juxtaposed with "contemporary" and also understated elegance. Your posts never fail to inspire..... nor does your region of France! Warm wishes.

  6. What could have been left as cold and with an abandoned feel is now warm and inviting with a very understated elegance that surprises by mixing the old with contemporary. Very interesting.
    I hope you are having a lovely weekend.

  7. What a stunning project to bring this exquisite place to a new life. The use of natural materials and maintaining the "bones" of the original is genius. Your posts are so engaging and make me want to be there!


  8. God bless him for taking it on. Here in the States, they like to just mow down old things and put up new - and there is nothing here close to that old... or beautiful in my humble opinion. My heart longs for a place with such beauty and history. One day. :)
    xo isa

  9. I love this post Karin! When renovating it's always a true sense of love because trust me after working on our 220+ place you have to love it. It would have been easier and way cheaper to rip things down and start from scratch but we wanted to save history and all the amazing wooden beams and stone walls too. Lookks like these people really loved what they did and made it function too. Great post Karin!

  10. I trust you, Debra!
    Knowing very well what it means to restore an over 200 year old farm like ours, with outbuildings and barns and.....
    And still not finished yet!

    Thanks for your lovely words.

    And also merci beaucoup to all friends for your friendly comments! Very much appreciated.

  11. I love it as much as any one . Mixing old with new is beautiful art

    I see where you mentioned the book Paper Illusions I have that book and love it

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  13. Fabulous! Inspiration for my derelict stone farmhouse! Do you ever show the house or let it? Congratuations on a beautiful job!

  14. Love the bedroom in the Orangerie, and most of the small house.