Nestled in the Eure valley in Normandy, France, this charming 19th-century cottage is a stunning synthesis of vintage, antique, and recycled furniture and objects. It is the French countryside retreat of Alon and Betsy Kasha of real estate and design firm A+B Kasha, based in Paris, and it’s certainly proof that you can create an harmonious interior with eclectic finds – especially if you’re doing right.
The original cottage with a large attached barn was once part of an old village rectory and Alon and Betsy were drawn to its high ceilings and exposed rafters. They undertook a full renovation of the property – including its dirt floors and mud walls – and transformed it into a comfortable and relaxed five-bedroom home. “When I am there, I love to entertain, putter in the garden, and chill,” says Betsy.
Inside, the Kashas’ home is open, light and bright with white walls and plenty of natural sunlight. Four small rooms downstairs are now one large open-plan living and dining space with furnishings that complement the wooden floors and exposed structural beams.
The home is filled with furniture, art, objects and accessories that Betsy and Alon have collected over many years and in some instances moved from New York to London to Paris to Normandy. Describing the aesthetic as a “visual personal diary,” Betsy says, “What I love most about this house is that it is filled with visual reminders of beautiful memories.”
When it comes to selecting vintage or antique furniture or decorative objects, Betsy says, “I choose pieces that speak to me. It may be because it is simply beautiful, or because it is cleverly designed.”
Some of her favorite vintage pieces include an old wooden artist’s pedestal used as a sculpture stand; a 100-year old beehive found in an antique store in Normandy; a coffee table made from an antique Mexican door; a vintage French park bench that sits in their garden; a United States trunk from World War II, which opens up to become an officer’s travelling writing desk; and a floor lamp by a young artist from the South of France made entirely from recycled or natural elements.
So how does Betsy make such diverse pieces work in harmony with each other? By choosing one uniting element across a series of pieces. “It can be done easily if one mixes pieces that have a common design element such as a color, material, shape or mood,” Betsy explains.
In the living area this can be seen in the Chinese cabinet that sits between a Le Corbusier LC2 chair and another angular armchair. “Both the cabinet and chairs have boxy, simple lines and, therefore, work well together.” A zinc coffee table sits in front, and while circular in form it still has a weightiness that complements the furniture surrounding it.
In the dining area, six 1960s Italian leather and chrome dining chairs sit around a circular table by Mario Bellini for Cassina. The chrome complements the glass while tan leather and wood are always a perfect accompaniment to each other; and the raw materials add warmth and texture to the cool chrome and glass.
Upstairs an LC4 Chaise Longue by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand, and contemporay chair by Ligne Roset are given the homely touch with blankets and towels for ready use.
Alon and Betsy’s French countryside retreat is warm and welcoming with antique and vintage pieces to be lived in. They have character from years of use, stories to tell from years of love, and their diversity is a reflection of Alon and Betsy’s own interests and personality. “Mixing pieces from different eras generally adds interest and personality to a space,” says Betsy. “I periodically take a mental inventory of what is in my space, and purge those things that no longer work or inspire me.”
Images via A+B Kasha