Provencal Perfection

When I read about the renovation of this beautiful house in the Luberon Valley in France, it captivated my imagination with the fantasy of owning a little piece of Provence. Like Peter Mayle or our own blogosphere friend and author Vicki Archer, this owner’s tale is full of enchanting stories and slow progress. But the results are magnificent.

Set in the hillside of Bonnieux, not far from Avignon, the house is oozing with Provencal charm. Wouldn’t it be lovely to sit on this terrace with your afternoon aperitif?

The highlight of the house is the cave sitting room. I’d love to be there today snuggled up on that cozy couch.

Intrigued by this beautiful example, I started researching for more houses and hit the jackpot when I discovered the work of architect Andrew Nelson, who has been building and renovating homes all over the south of France for the past 25 years. He executes renovations, builds new houses and designs gardens, frequently incorporating old salvaged materials.

How would you like this lovely allée to be your driveway.

Leading to this

One Cinderella started like this

and turned into this princess

and this derelict view

became this elegant facade

Moving inside, this raw space

became this spacious room

And if we take a look at some other renovations, we’ll see

If you can’t find the “mas” of your dream, Nelson will build you one from scratch, using local stone and aged accountrements so that the final product fits right in with the glorious landscape. Watch the progress of this fabulous home.

With these frigid temperatures and piles of snow, I know I’m ready to move right in – how about you?!

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70 Responses to Provencal Perfection

  1. Ann says:

    That such a lovely house,
    I love the facade, the interiors and of course the cave sitting room.
    And the setting of the house is so gorgeous, quiet and very relaxing atmosphere…Oh if only….so much like a dream:)

  2. Such incredible beauty in such a stunning setting! All working absolutely beautifully together – that is what architecture is all about.
    Thanks for sharing :))

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Claudia – Totally agree – love when architecture and nature have a successful symbiotic relationship!

  3. The Zhush says:

    Yes, I am ready to leave this winter behind…I’m not picky either, I would happily take the restored beauty or the new gem!

  4. The house is stunning but the area around it is also incredible and so beautiful:) Im also ready to move it..Can I join? hahah
    Happy Tuesday, my dear

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Diana – Absolutely – more the merrier! I think a big party in Provence is just the ticket!

  5. i’m ready to move right in too! so lovely.

    xo Alison

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Alison – This is one of my dream family vacations – to rent a house in Provence. One of my sons is fluent and I can dabble so we wouldn’t feel so isolated!

  6. DivaDebbi says:

    Oh how beautiful! I’m right their with you!
    Such an abundence of talent. There is something so fluid about seeing the design of the home and grounds being conceived and executed by the same person. It must be so satisfying to Nelson to see a finished project…not to mention the happy clients!

  7. Sarah says:

    Bonnieux! My most favorite of Provencial small towns. The market there is intimate, diverse and so picturesque. Last fall we combed all over this area. Yes, even stopping in front of Vicki Archer’s favorite macaroon shop in St. Remy (it was closed!). Bonnieux holds a special place in our trip. Also, it is VERY hard to see any houses in Provence. Everything is very tucked away and out of tourists view. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into what we knew was there but couldn’t see!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Sarah – Oh I’m living vicariously through your past trip!! Sounds lovely!! I’ve been to Provence several times, but never to Bonnieux not St. Remy. I’m definitely itching to go!!

  8. Nancy Wright says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. These photos take my mind off the ever-snowy landscape here in New England!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Nancy – my pleasure!! My too – as I’m sitting here watching what was supposed to be just mild flurries accumulate yet again!!

  9. The gardens of the last house are amazing – could just pictures myself lounging by that pool on this snowy day (or any day, for that matter!)

    • quintessence says:

      Buzz – Aren’t those gardens just gorgeous?! This is definitely high up on my dream vacation list!!

  10. elle says:

    Q – I agree… bags are packed!

  11. Wow – the cave room is phenomenal! What a unique space!

    • quintessence says:

      CCL – Isn’t that cave room amazing?! Must be so cozy!! And even cool in summer with all the stone!

  12. What a transformation! I love those interiors…but the field of lavender has me swooning! My bags are packed!

    • quintessence says:

      PPT – Isn’t that just beautiful – can’t even imagine at the moment – where everywhere I look is blanketed in white!!

  13. Gorgeous. I can smell the lavender from here. I’m ready to pack my bags… Meet you by the pool for Lillet or a Kir! XO

  14. Kelly says:

    What lovely houses! I am so obsessed with that cave room – I stayed at a friend’s house in Cabo once with a similar space…so perfect for an afternoon nap :)

    xo Kelly

  15. Sold. Ready to go passport in hand! I can buy what I need when I get there.

  16. designchic says:

    I’m totally enchanted…just gorgeous!!

  17. Jennifer says:

    I would love to spend a summer there! Beautiful…

  18. oh la la, take me away…. so beautiful! I love the cave living room with the yellow pillows. Really lovely///

    • quintessence says:

      SM – Isn’t that cave unique? And it would be cool in the summer with all the stone. Perfect for lazing!

  19. Why oh why was I not born with a trust fund…………

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Jeanette – I think in moments like this – we are all thinking that. Money is not the answer but certainly affords freedom to indulge in things like this!

  20. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous. And that part of France is so beautiful. To say nothing of the cheese and wine…

  21. I’ve started packing now. I wonder what people that live in such magnificent homes aspire to? Where do they dream of living other than where they are?

    I love nothing more than before and after design projects and these photos top the charts. What a thrill to see and to dream about. Thank you Stacey!

    • quintessence says:

      My pleasure Deb – I’ve thought about the same thing – but I guess we could ask Vicki that question! I think she actually has the perfect combination – London and Provence – now wouldn’t that be lovely!! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a blogging party there – with all our online friends who we know appreciate all the same things?!

  22. ann says:

    OMG love. Fabulous post. I love seeing the process from scratch and the lavendar fields are incrediable. Makes me want to pour myself a glass of champagne and sit in the garden. Lovely.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Ann – so glad you liked this – you’re a girl after my own heart – just what I was imagining!!

  23. The Devoted Classicist says:

    How beautiful! It is always wonderful to see traditional building methods working so successfully for new construction.

    • quintessence says:

      TDC – Agreed – exactly what is so wonderful about it – the merging of land and architecture

  24. Just absolutely stunning! I love the rustic look, and there is plenty here.
    Hope your week is going well.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Teresa – I love this sophisticated rustic look as well and how it is nestled appropriately in the landscape!

  25. Karena says:

    Stacey these homes are simply a dream…so wonderful to see the before and afters! Thank you, and yes it is frigid with snow here in Kansas City!!

    Art by Karena

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Karena – I love the before and afters as well. I was loving this beautiful winter wonderland but the cold is now truly testing my patience. This is looking mighty appealing!

  26. Beautiful! I love how they’ve integrated nature into the house, the cave sitting room and the patio with the cliff like wall. A field of lavender outside your door…lovely. Who would ever leave?

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Carla – That’s exactly what I love about these beautiful homes – both their merging with their setting and the use of indigenous materials.

  27. This reminds me of our friends’ home in Tuscany which is one of my favorite spots on the planet. This is stunning and I would love to be there now (with spring weather of course). xx, Kate

    • quintessence says:

      Kate – how lovely to have a friend with a house in Tuscany – we like those kinds of friends!! Yes, I’m ready for a few more degrees myself! I’m dreaming of being by the pool!

  28. Wonderful, wonderful pictures. The interiors are gorgeous! This post makes me want to go on holiday NOW! xx

    • quintessence says:

      Thank you Christina! Aren’t they beautiful?! I could really use a break like this- looks like we’re having early dismissal tomorrow and then maybe a snow day again on Thursday!!

  29. Heather says:

    A great post….you are on a real roll! Love the ‘barn’ conversion…my personal
    fav spot in that neck of the woods is Gordes…by the way passed on a Blog of Substance Award if you want it!

    • quintessence says:

      Thank you Heather! Oh I’ve never been there – my son was studying in Aix and loved Gordes. Thank you so much for the award – much appreciated!!

  30. gorgeous images, Q..
    makes you feel as if you’re there…

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Maureen – Aren’t they lovely? I think he does such a marvelous job – I could really move right in!!

  31. Style Maniac says:

    I feel like I just went on a vacation! Merci! Those first four images, especially stole my heart and imagination.

  32. Morning T says:

    Ah, tres magnifique!! We are certainly on the same page this week. Love today’s wine post as well. I’m off to check out more of your fabulous blog. So glad you visited me.

  33. Carole says:

    Yes, oh yes, I’d move in, in a jiffy.
    Thanks so much for popping over to my blog yesterday and for leaving a comment. Heather is lovely isn’t she?
    Glad to have found your blog now. I’ll be back often.
    Carole x

  34. Leigha says:

    I’ll move in, too! Gorgeous, gorgeous property. Thanks for visiting my blog and leading me back to you!


  35. pve says:

    My husband’s Aunt lives in a mas in Le Collet Bas, near Provence and she is 85 and loads of fun. She just wallpapered her bedroom. Her home looks like it would be part of this post.
    The kitchen is one of my favorite rooms…along with the property….and an old oak tree.

  36. Oh my goodness, this is goooooooorrrrgeous! I want him to come and build me my very own version in the bottom of my garden!! It’s perfect!


  37. Jennica says:

    Hello! I’m so obsessed with the magazine photos in this post! I was just curious what specific magazine these were from? I’d love to find it for myself! Thanks so much!

    • Stacey Bewkes says:

      Oh dear – from 10 years ago. I believe it was British House & Garden but not 100% sure.

  38. Jennica says:

    Thanks so much! I tried searching all of the old British House & Garden magazines, but no luck. Do you possibly know if it’s maybe a different magazine? Thanks Stacey!

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