The in­te­rior of this French villa re­flects its stun­ning sur­round­ings

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - FEA­TURE Maggie Colvin | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Mark lus­combe-whyte

Sit­ting on the ter­race of her home in the South of France, Cather­ine Mac­fadyen ex­tols the virtues of a breath­tak­ing view and re­mem­bers the day she first set eyes on the one be­fore her. ‘Alas­dair and I were look­ing for a site on which to build a new house. We de­cided that this view across a val­ley filled with pines and olives sur­rounded by moun­tains was hard to beat,’ Cather­ine ex­plains. ‘It was also within walk­ing dis­tance of the vil­lage of Val­bonne, which meant we would not need to drive home af­ter a good night out. A build­ing site near a vil­lage in the South of France is like gold dust. So we snapped it up.’

Alas­dair is a long-haul pi­lot, so although both he and Cather­ine were born in the UK, they have trav­elled ex­ten­sively and share an in­ter­na­tional mind­set. ‘ When our boys, Alex, now 18, and Macken­zie, 16, were tod­dlers, we lived in Morzine in the French Alps,’ says Cather­ine. ‘Af­ter a few years, we de­cided the South of France of­fered a bet­ter qual­ity of life and a wider choice of schools, so we bought an old house to re­store near Nice.’

While builders worked on her home, Cather­ine be­gan to help friends with sim­i­lar restora­tion projects and it was not too long be­fore she longed for a new project for her own fam­ily. ‘I was work­ing with an imag­i­na­tive ar­chi­tect called Sabine Bell and a team of great builders, who gave me the con­fi­dence that it would be pos­si­ble to cre­ate a new house,’ she re­calls. ‘So we bought the plot and put our heads to­gether to draw up a de­sign for a home on this amaz­ing site.’

They opted for a long, thin plan of dual-as­pect rooms, which over­look the view on one side and ac­cess light on the other. ‘Fac­ing into the sun to look at the view is hard on your eyes, but with the sun be­hind you, the view op­po­site is bathed in sun­shine.’

The cou­ple took the un­usual step of build­ing guest rooms with

en suite bath­rooms on the ground floor, to cre­ate night-time pri­vacy for vis­i­tors. These quar­ters are sep­a­rated from the busier part of the house by a large, ele­gant draw­ing room and an im­pos­ing hall.

‘I am grate­ful to a Bel­gian friend for the de­sign of the hall and its staircase,’ says Cather­ine. ‘She sent me a cut­ting taken from a mag­a­zine of a curved wooden staircase de­sign that she felt I would like. I thought it was stun­ning; so we copied it.’

Cather­ine has a pen­chant for what she calls ‘clas­sic’ fur­ni­ture, with clean and sim­ple lines. ‘I find it eas­ier on the eye to opt for less fussy styles,’ she says. ‘The façade of the house is quite tra­di­tional and I think our fur­ni­ture is, too.’

Cather­ine still views the house as a work in progress. ‘There are lots of things I would still like to do to the house, some of which were re­stricted by the bud­get,’ she ex­plains. ‘For ex­am­ple, ideally I wanted a fire­place in the kitchen, but it would have been a very ex­pen­sive job. Our builders were amaz­ing and their typ­i­cal re­sponse was “c’est pos­si­ble”, but in this in­stance, the wall was not thick enough to house a flue.’

Spread­ing the cost of the work over two years en­sured that funds did not run out, but it also meant that for a year, the drive­way was a dirt track. ‘Af­ter a flash rain­fall one night, we were left wad­ing through mud. I could not count how of­ten I found my­self clean­ing the foot­prints off our new floors!’

Tam­ing the un­ruly gar­den was Alas­dair’s project. He planned out the ter­races and planted over three hun­dred aga­pan­thus, plus other ex­otic lilies and winter laven­der. Now that the plants have ma­tured, the drive is fin­ished and some an­noy­ing teething prob­lems with the swim­ming pool have been sorted, the hard work is over. ‘My boys love to cook, and I am their of­fi­cial taster,’ says Cather­ine. ‘Eat­ing and en­joy­ing the view is what our home is all about.’

de­sign tip‘ Aw hit e-hu ed back­drop makes other colours sing out in any home, and in Mediter­ranean light it is glo­ri­ous’

FOR­MAL SIT­TING ROOM Po­si­tion­ing so­fas op­po­site each other cre­ates a con­vivial spot for so­cial­is­ing. wis­tow cof­fee ta­ble, £1,225, oka, is a good al­ter­na­tive op­tion. Cam­ber bath stone fire­place, £1,320, Cur­tis Fire­places, would work here. Ikat silk cush­ions, £78 each, rosanna Lons­dale

HALL The wind­ing, hand-carved staircase is a show­stop­per. For­cella con­sole, £825, oka, is sim­i­lar. For mod­ern hur­ri­cane lanterns, from £12, try Amara

MAIN BED­ROOM The pal­ette cho­sen for this de­sign echoes the colours seen through the French win­dows. Chatsworth sleigh bed, £ 4,400, Simon horn. walls painted in Strong white es­tate emul­sion, £ 45.50 for 2.5L, Far­row & ball

BATH­ROOM Plac­ing the bath at an an­gle is clever de­sign in a nar­row room. Clear­wa­ter bath, £1,359, Vic­to­rian Plumb­ing. Car­rara mar­ble-ef­fect tiles, £67.95sq m, walls and Floors, are a match

GUEST BED­ROOM Neu­tral tones with splashes of blue re­sult in a tran­quil scheme. For a near-iden­ti­cal look, try bil­low head­board, £625; tray Day bed­side ta­bles, £145 each, both Loaf

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