How a young cou­ple trans­formed a barn in France into a rus­tic mod­ern show­piece that shines come Christ­mas­time


Step into this stun­ning con­verted barn in the French coun­try­side and you’d be hard­pressed to pic­ture what it was like when live­stock lived in­side. Orig­i­nal relics like ex­posed beams, a soar­ing ceil­ing and mon­u­men­tal doors are there as re­minders of the home’s his­tory, which feels like a dis­tant mem­ory. The place is now hos­pitable and homey, pretty and pol­ished, mod­ern and chic.

Would you ever guess that when the barn was bought, it was un­in­hab­it­able for hu­mans? The beaten- earth floor was cov­ered in straw, and the walls weren’t well in­su­lated. But the own­ers, a young cou­ple (she’s in mar­ket­ing; he’s in fi­nance), saw its po­ten­tial.

They bought the barn one Jan­uary and aimed to ren­o­vate it for the fol­low­ing Christ­mas. That’s al­ready an am­bi­tious goal for any over­haul, but

this pair also vowed to do the ma­jor­ity of the work on their own (with a lit­tle help from fam­ily and friends). With a young daugh­ter in tow, they sac­ri­ficed evenings and week­ends to sand­ing, re­fin­ish­ing, paint­ing and dec­o­rat­ing – at times bal­anc­ing pre­car­i­ously on scaf­fold­ing while wield­ing large power tools. “It was pet­ri­fy­ing,” says one of them.

Fur­nish­ing the con­verted barn was no easy feat ei­ther, as the pair was de­ter­mined to do so on a dime. Much of the decor was sourced from flea mar­kets and an­tiques shops, plus the cou­ple hand­crafted a lot them­selves. “I pre­fer to spend money on the bones of the house, like the kitchen and stairs, rather than the decor,” one ex­plains.

But the cou­ple’s met­tle and de­ter­mi­na­tion paid off. They fin­ished well be­fore Christ­mas and had time to set­tle in, get comfy and con­sider their sea­sonal decor. Now comes the next chal­lenge: host­ing their first hol­i­day din­ner for their whole fam­ily...all 23 of them.

Cozy and comfy, in­vig­o­rated and in­spired, heart­warmed and happy. This is the time we look for­ward to all year: days filled to the brim with the hus­tle and bus­tle of the fes­tive sea­son – shop­ping! dec­o­rat­ing! vis­it­ing! The fol­low­ing homes em­body the best of that cheer­ful hol­i­day sen­ti­ment, in rooms that glow merry and bright.


1. TICK­LED PINK Blush is not a tone com­monly seen at Christ­mas­time, but based on how it’s used here, it feels like it should be. Em­ployed in diminu­tive doses to a sim­i­larly muted pal­ette with metal­lic touches and lots of light, the fem­i­nine hue takes on an el­e­gant warmth that glows. 2. HOT TIPS A tray full of pil­lar can­dles of var­ied sizes and heights makes for an easy fes­tive cof­fee ta­ble dis­play fea­tur­ing ev­ery­day items that ev­ery­one has on hand. The flames com­ple­ment the tree’s twin­kle lights, and small sprigs of green­ery com­plete the look. 3. RIS­ING STAR A rus­tic con­sole in the din­ing room gets the star treat­ment. Ce­les­tial sil­hou­ettes, tree frames and ca­su­ally strewn string lights come to­gether in a pretty yet unas­sum­ing ar­range­ment that can serve as a back­drop for a hol­i­day drinks sta­tion near the din­ing ta­ble. 3

5. BITS & BITES On the kitchen counter, nuts and sweets sit on cake plates and cut­ting boards ready for snack­ing. Since the cook­ing area is open to the din­ing zone, this is the per­fect stag­ing space to set up munchies and re­fresh­ments prior to serv­ing a big din­ner. 6. LIGHT FAN­TAS­TIC It’s amaz­ing what a strand of string lights can do. Th­ese home­own­ers don’t hes­i­tate to set them out any­where – hid­ing among presents, nes­tled in a cen­tre­piece or hang­ing from a pedestal and statue. Per­fect im­per­fec­tion is key to mak­ing this look work. 5

KITCHEN CRAV­ING In this ul­tra-rus­tic space, the stream­lined kitchen feels ex­tra mod­ern. Sleek black ev­ery­thing – cab­i­netry, coun­ter­tops, ap­pli­ances and faucet – are strik­ing against the din­ing area’s homey el­e­ments, from the rough-hewn wooden ta­ble to the wo­ven pen­dant lights to the spot­ted faux cowhide. 4. SPRIG FEVER The el­e­ments of this stun­ning ta­blescape are sim­ple: Fra­grant eu­ca­lyp­tus boughs line the cen­tre; white ta­pers stand tall in short black pinch bowls; and each place set­ting is min­i­mally adorned with a rosy pink nap­kin and a sprig of green­ery.

HALL­WAY HOMAGE Here’s a view that com­pletely cap­tures the con­verted barn’s mod­ern farm­house aes­thetic. The rough-hewn con­sole is set off by the waxed con­crete floor; hum­ble pieces like the but­ter­fly chair jux­ta­pose the state­ment-mak­ing stairs re­flected in the mir­ror; and a skull that links to the pas­toral lo­cale plays against the Cam­bo­dian statue (on the con­sole), an homage to the her­itage of one home­owner. 6

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