My friend & author Karen McCartney who I have known since very early on in my styling career has converted a French barn into a relaxed holiday home, not far from the village of Duras in the South-West of France. Karen describes the house as “set on a small hill, overlooking fields of sunflowers, and has the rusticity of a barn combined with a mix of vintage items and contemporary” – making for an idyllic stay in the Aquitaine region.
The opportunity to take over the house arose and wanting to keep it in the family as it had been for a long time, Sydney-based Karen & her husband, interior stylist David Harrison seized the chance and got to work on revamping the spaces, refusing to let distance hinder them.
Karen & David have weaved together a conscious combination of vintage items, market finds and contemporary pieces from French designers including Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec and Jamie Hayon, as well as some glass lights from Angelucci in Melbourne that survived the journey over to France.
‘The house is essentially quite rustic and as nothing is perfect we had to go with the flow, support the character of the place with what we brought in”, says Karen. The approach was to mix eras and materials to create a space that feels ‘authentic and comfortable.’ Some things are new – such as the beds from Belgium and the dining table from Italy but other things have had a life that contributes to the sense that the place is lived in and loved.
Some of the key rooms within the house have been reworked. The south facing terrace (the direction you want in Europe) has been extended and tiled with geometric tiles from Popham in Morocco, making it the perfect spot for lunches, dinners and an afternoon G+T. The kitchen has also been completely redone with new tiles, appliances and an vintage oak Belgian cabinet topped with a piece of locally sourced marble in a deep, leathery red.
Karen is keen to share her French retreat and bookings can be made through their Airbnb.
Visit | Hilltop Barn, Duras, France