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All of a sudden we are going into the next phase of planning - it's time to decide on colors, patterns, styles! It's all coming together, slowly, slowly, what our rooms will look like.

Surprisingly making some of these decisions were very hard for me. There is a long way from inspirations and ideas to actually committing. The process requires patience (something I am not known for), testing things out, and making decisions, some of which are long term and not easily changed. I have to remind myself that this is the fun part of the renovations and I have to enjoy the process!

The colors I gravitate to - neutrals, blues, beiges...


My inspiration comes from all sorts of directions. Probably just like you, I fill numerous Pinterest boards with beautiful images of homes from around the world, in different styles, color schemes, from modern California homes, to thatched cottages in Cotswolds.  I am especially addicted to House & Garden, the English manor vibe is so close to my heart. I rip pages out of decorating magazines. I collect decorating books. I imagine myself living in these worlds. But one day the reality knocks and it's time to streamline and organize the ideas. Otherwise I would need a few houses to decorate in the styles I saved in my mood boards! Before this house was ours, I could let my imagination run wild, but now it was time to rein it in. It is hard - this wild imagination needs to be tamed!

Inspiration for the kitchen - credits left to right @devolkitchens, unknown, and @devolkitchens*

I can easily fall in love with moody and mysterious interiors, and the rooms full of pattern and saturated color, but I know that although I am drawn to this universe I have to recognize that I would never be comfortable in rooms full of primary color - for me it is less pattern, the colors more toned down. That being said I want to bring some pattern to some rooms - not to many rooms, and not on big surfaces, because in my opinion pattern in large quantities can become overwhelming. I have to do it thoughtfully and carefully.

The saturated red of the "tomettes" plays off the neutrals beautifully (from decordemon.blogspot )

With the color I want to bring in more light, and an easy spirit mood to this house, the feeling of warmth, comfort, and elegance too. I want to create a peaceful and relaxed feeling of being finally home. With all this in mind I need to picture all our furniture, area rugs, art, etc, things we already own, in the rooms, taking into account how the rooms will function, their proportions, and how and who will be using them.

How the house is situated also weighted on these decisions. Although it is in the middle of a small village, it sits within nature and is surrounded by a garden. So I wanted to continue this feeling of being close to plants, flowers, and birds, inside.

This is what I love, timeless elegance with a dash of country ( via @elleihome , Trouvais via , , @ @boulevard leopold indulgence on Flicker,

As time went by, and I have been looking at samples, color books, and prices (!), I narrowed down the ideas. As I mentioned before, living in this house for a few months, through a few seasons, different kind of weather, dictated what the house needs.


As I looked at the rooms in different seasons, in an early morning light, or at dusk, in all sorts of weather, I was asking myself - What story do we want to write in this house? Above all - what feels good to us? And how to keep it realistic? What atmosphere and feeling I want it to evoke?

I didn't want to get caught up in a certain style, I wanted the space to reflect our life up to this point, with enough room to grow to reflect the life that we are creating here.

I wanted a certain sophistication, but at the same time I wanted rooms for living. I want quality, but I don't want to be too precious about things. For me, everything needs to be used, chairs and sofas are to be sat on, pretty china is to be used every day, and if one chooses to walk to around with their shoes on, it's ok.

Style wise I looked for timeless, not the latest trends, or "the color of the year". Fortunately I have had my favorite color palette for years, and I instinctively gravitate towards certain color combinations. White and blue is one of these obvious combinations, so classic, calming, and easy to work with. It comes in many patterns, and can be echoed through the decor of many rooms. I also love classic beiges and neutrals. I dress in a similar way, in monochrome, or patternless tops and bottoms, and accessorize with pattern and more color. But I was afraid that with all that beige I would disappear into the background - just kidding of course!

But as I let myself guided by my habitual comfortable choices, yet trying not to get in the comfort zone of warm whites and beiges, there were unexpected discoveries - I truly surprised myself loving wallpaper so much that I made the decision to add it to three small rooms. I spent hours looking at options at countless companies, but when I saw the wallpaper at Antoinette Poisson it was a "coup de coeur". A small company based in Paris, inspired by the decorative arts of the 18th century, makes all their items by hand. I fell head over heels their "Canton" pattern, which inspired the change of style of my dressing furniture... There are two more patterns that I will want to use in the house. I ordered samples, they came with a personalized note and a beautifully presented history of the company. Just looking at them brought me so much joy!

The samples of wallpaper I received from Antoinette Poisson, along with a handwritten note

So as the time went by, and I put a lot of time and thought into this process (it takes work!), things are finally taking shape, and color.


Some choices were easy and a real no brainer. Others made my heart say YES, but my common sense was saying ARE YOU KIDDING?

Such was the case of the wall color in our "salle à manger". I didn't want to have another neutral color room. After being intrigued by images of several "blue"rooms, I tried a lot of blue on pieces of paper, mixing acrylic paint from my paint box. After that I pinned them on walls around the room. They stayed there for a few days. I looked at them at different times, in different light, in sunshine, on a cloudy day. Progressively I took some pieces down. This is what remained:

I am holding three shades of blue I love and that passed my "inspection". I was inspired by these rooms (left by Lucy William for House & Garden, photo Christopher Horwood, the right one is by @antoinettepoisson)

I am still in progress of trying our various blue color samples, but the one that came closest is "Blue Ground" by Farrow&Ball. The blue patches are staying up on the dining room wall, so I can look at them in passing. So far I like what I see.

The easier choices were the neutrals picked for the majority of the rooms. "White Tie" and "New White" along "Setting Plaster"were the clear winners. I ordered little cans of paint (the F&B paint samples come in the cutest little cans, it's a joy to dip into them and start marking the walls :) and tested the colors on the walls. They all passed the test :) I was pleasantly surprised by "Setting Plaster" - it will be lovely in our bathroom - not too girly pink, and not quite a neutral either. The two whites will work very well in various rooms. I am eyeing other neutrals, so I maybe ordering some more samples :) I will report what I have decided on!

Do not commit to a wall of color without trying it out!

My love for the neutral palette is reflected in the selection of natural stone (which is the local limestone"pierre de Bourgogne") for the kitchen, laundry room, and the entryway, which our architect recommended, and I really love this idea. We live in the region, and the quarry from which the stone will come is almost next door to us. And of course wood was chosen for one of the bedrooms that needed a new floor really badly. The rest of the floors remain - they are original to the house and I love them.

A classic floor in limestone, just like this one (which happens to be in the entrance to Paul Cezanne's house in Aix-en-Provence), will be added to our entrance hall and kitchen (image via Rebecca Watson Photography)

But before the walls can be painted, the floors installed, and all the furniture and lovely collections carefully arranged, we still have to start the renovation. The "behind the scenes" work, so important for this house - the plumbing, the electrical, the heating... - needs to be completed. During which the walls will be torn down, some rooms stripped to the minimum, and the important systems for the house installed.

Nevertheless - let's enjoy the process :) Thank you for following me on this adventure.

To be continued...

xoxo Joanna

*P.S. I want to give proper credit to the photos I chose for this article. If you find that I made a mistake please let me know and I will make corrections. Thank you!

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