The hillside views, sunny climate and spacious living areas were enough to persuade these homeowners to move to France permanently
When Katie Lyons sets the table for lunch under the shade of an olive tree, all that can be heard is a splash of water from the pool and the call of birdsong. It is hard to believe that this oasis of pine trees and lemongrass is just 15 minutes on foot to the town centre in Nice, and a hop and a skip from the beach.
It is a far cry from the hectic London life that Katie and her husband Oli left behind four years ago, when they made a temporary move to the South of France, so that Oli could complete a master’s degree. ‘By the time Oli’s course finished, we had fallen in love with the region and were used to a life that was more in tune with the outdoors,’ says Katie. They began to look at properties, and it was when they viewed a villa with a beautiful tiered garden that they knew they had found their next home. ‘It was on a hillside with stunning views of the valley and completely secluded – we both adored it.’
Katie and Oli bought the villa and set about renovating it, making the view their first priority. ‘ We decided to replace the original front door with glazed, steel-framed, floor-to-ceiling doors so that even when inside we’d feel connected to the garden.’ Then they turned the ground floor into a separate apartment for visiting friends and family, while reconfiguring
the first-floor space, knocking down walls to make an open-plan area that has become the social hub of the house.
Once the works were complete, Katie and Oli, with their newborn daughter Lila, now two, felt they had created an ideal interior space for a family, and turned their attention to the garden, adding a terrace and an understated plunge pool.
Nature’s warm and earthy tones are reflected inside the house, with a lush palm print wallpaper in the main bedroom and a burnt orange-painted wall in the bathroom. Elsewhere, chalky painted walls and lime-washed beams are the perfect backdrop for the couple’s collection of vintage finds, such as the trestle table in the hall, made from an old door, and a dining table that once belonged to a French monastery.
The couple’s foray into interiors has prompted a new career and they recently bought and renovated a historic property in Saint Paul de Vence, called La Miette, which was once owned by celebrated French writer Jacques Prévert It is now an Airbnb
. home-from-home for friends, family and guests.
But it is their own home and garden that still holds Katie and Oli captive. ‘Hearing the birds and seeing nature at such close quarters is a great leveller,’ reflects Katie. ‘ Worries melt away when you look out on a landscape like this. It’s just perfect.’
KITCHEN Katie opted for simple cabinetry in here, so that the outdoor view would take centre stage. Victoria metal bar stools, £89 each, Cult Furniture, would recreate this look. Paxo pendant lights, £165 each, Holloways of Ludlow, are similar
GARDEN The dining terrace also boasts a dipping pool. For similarly elegant outdoor table sets, try Lazy Susan, priced from around £500
MAIN BEDROOM A bold palm print wallpaper enlivens this otherwise neutral scheme. Palmeral wallpaper, £185 a roll, house of hackney. Find mid-century iron wall sconces, from £127 each, at etsy. bottle vase, £35, Cox & Cox, is a match
BATHROOM A béton ciré (waxed concrete) wall in burnt orange is in tune with the villa’s Mediterranean setting. C P hart’s waterloo eight-inch overhead shower, £138, has this look
LILA’S BEDROOM Soft plaster pink walls create a restful feel in this simply furnished room. Aurora Vita eos feather lampshade in white, from £69, graham and green, is near identical