Liv­ing the dream

This French fam­ily wished for a home made en­tirely out of tim­ber.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WORDS& STYLING Marie Maud Levron PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Cé­cile Per­rin et- L her­mit te

This French fam­ily wished for a home made en­tirely out of tim­ber – and so they made it hap­pen.

Two years ago, de­signer Alexandre Reignier and his part­ner Aude Ber­trand de­cided to leave the city cen­tre of France’s Aix-en-Provence for the green hills of the charm­ing vil­lage of Ventabren in the nearby Provençal coun­try­side. It was a bold move driven by his child­hood dream to live in a made-to-mea­sure home with con­tem­po­rary lines built en­tirely out of wood.

“We both wanted a rad­i­cal life­style change and to live in har­mony with na­ture,” says Alexandre. “We needed to re­con­nect and find the true value of things.” With the words ‘eth­i­cal’ and ‘sim­plic­ity’ top of mind, they re­searched un­til they came upon the work of Thomas Wal­ter, founder of Ate­lier Or­di­naire, an in­te­rior de­sign and ar­chi­tec­tural stu­dio that spe­cialises in the use of tim­ber.

“We just fell in love with his work,” says Alexandre. •

“I pre­pared sev­eral mood­boards ex­press­ing our vi­sion and Thomas re­ally lis­tened – we had a lot of com­mon ground.”

First, Thomas pro­posed a sys­tem of con­struc­tion us­ing cus­tom-for­mat­ted struc­tural pan­els. He then drew up the home’s spa­ces, tak­ing into ac­count the tech­ni­cal and prac­ti­cal re­quire­ments of a fam­ily home that also needs to func­tion as a work­place for both Alexandre and Aude, a free­lance dig­i­tal strate­gist who also blogs at the­lit­tle­ “The idea was to fo­cus on vol­ume and large open­ings, to re­move as much de­tail as pos­si­ble so we could use raw ma­te­ri­als,” says Alexandre, whose own de­signs (from fur­ni­ture to salt and pep­per shak­ers) are a study in min­i­mal­ism and ef­fi­ciency. “The fin­ishes were also sim­pli­fied to re­duce the cost and con­struc­tion time.”

Ul­ti­mately, the two-storey house was de­liv­ered as a kit and as­sem­bled in just 10 weeks. The re­sult is a won­der­fully •

per­son­alised cre­ation char­ac­terised by its sim­ple geo­met­ric form, un­treated wood, clean lines and large win­dows that let the leafy out­side in and cre­ate a real sense of seren­ity.

“The house is on a slope among some pines,” says Alexandre. “We po­si­tioned it as high as pos­si­ble to make the most of the un­ob­structed view from the hill­side lounge and the view of the for­est be­hind the house. The in­te­rior wood is spruce and it feels re­ally good. It’s warm and re­lax­ing, and con­trary to what you might think, it’s quite bright.”

It’s also nice and cosy. “Our home is very well in­su­lated,” says Alexandre. “It’s a real lit­tle co­coon – we’re never cold. The sun­light com­ing through the bay win­dows and the heat we gen­er­ate just liv­ing here is enough to keep us warm. The stove is re­ally just for plea­sure and for use dur­ing harsh win­ters; we love to gather around it with friends and fam­ily.” •

In­spired by the spirit of Scan­di­na­vian, bo­hemian and Ja­panese homes, and with a per­fectly im­per­fect wabi-sabi vibe, the in­te­rior dé­cor is pared right back and en­hanced by the ex­tra­or­di­nary light for which this re­gion is fa­mous. Alexandre de­signed much of the fur­ni­ture and home­ware him­self, in­clud­ing the kitchen, stor­age cup­boards and daugh­ter Daphné’s bed.

“I mainly use wood in my cre­ations,” he says. “It’s the ideal ma­te­rial for me. It’s beau­ti­ful, warm, soft, re­sis­tant, lightweight and eco­log­i­cal. There’s vir­tu­ally no down­side to it.”

As a fin­ish­ing touch, the cou­ple added a few care­fully se­lected new and vin­tage pieces to the mix. “It was a child­hood dream to build a wooden house that was sim­ple, beau­ti­ful, ef­fi­cient and min­i­mal,” says Alexandre. “And that’s ex­actly what we did.”

ABOVE There are no dis­trac­tions in the up­stairs workspace – just the desk Alexandre de­signed and a vin­tage chair. In the bed­room be­hind is Alexandre’s Henri stool. OP­PO­SITE En­hanced by trail­ing in­door green­ery, the bath­room in­cludes a bath by Ja­cob...

ABOVE A large, low win­dow lets light spill into the din­ing area, which is fur­nished with a ta­ble by Hay, vin­tage Cesca chairs by Knoll and a Mar­seille wall lamp by Le Cor­bus­ier. OP­PO­SITE The gen­er­ous liv­ing space in­cludes (from left) a buf­fet by...

KITCHEN The home’s in­te­rior dé­cor is sim­ple in the ex­treme, but the cou­ple con­ceded to us­ing a bit of colour in the kitchen in or­der to high­light the de­tail, choos­ing wa­ter­based shade Larzac from Mer­cadier. Alexandre cre­ated the cabi­netry frontage...

ABOVE The cen­tre­piece of Noée’s zone in the girls’ shared space is a vin­tage cot dis­cov­ered at a flea mar­ket in Mar­seille, 40 min­utes away. It couldn’t be a bet­ter match for the pre-loved mir­ror and the dream catcher by Sessùn. OP­PO­SITE Daphné’s bed...

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