When we picture a French country home, we tend to imagine some fairly uniform things: a period farmhouse with ivy creeping all over the walls, perhaps, or a high-ceilinged barn conversion where exposed beams watch over the residents’ day-to-day lives. What we less often imagine (we’ll go out on a limb and say probably never, in fact, unless specifically prompted) is a blocky, Bauhaus-influenced exterior in red, grey and white. That aesthetic seems to belong well over the eastern border, in the land where it originated. But sometimes – indeed, often – playing with expectations by removing a particular visual style from its natural environment and plonking it down somewhere completely new is one of the most exciting ways of seeing architecture with fresh eyes. Such is the case with this family home by Pilon & Georges, situated in the sun-soaked southern region of Toulouse.
In common with many a French countryside retreat, this one comes well-equipped with balconies; which is a good thing too, because drenching yourself in sunshine on a daily basis is more or less the entire point of owning a house in the South of France. It’s with the balconies, however, that any superficial similarities to the traditional holiday cottage more or less come to an end. The colour palette is boldly, almost abrasively modern, while even the choice of trees in the garden is a little disorientating, bringing the faintest hint of Asian influence to the home.
Space to be together outside is key to the success of a home in this region, so it makes sense that around the other side of the building there’s a little patio area in addition to those balconies. Although the layout of this part of the house is quite different from the one we’ve already seen, the consistent colour scheme and continuing use of bold shapes makes this angle of the house every bit as presentable as the other one. There is no clear front and back view here; no side that is more suitable for public viewing than the other.
Just as we’ve already seen on the outside of the building, bold colours play an important part in creating a modern feel here. This time, though, the designer has gone to the opposite side of the colour wheel, picking green instead of red. The subtle use of soft green lighting around one section of the ceiling is a nice, though easily overlooked, touch.
This is part of the same open-plan space as the kitchen, and seeing this angle puts the use of green on the other side of the room into context – the purple/green contrast works wonderfully to break up the expanse of white elsewhere, while bringing a daringly fresh and contemporary edge to a fairly basic interior.
Inbuilt shelf space with soft lighting to illuminate the objects placed there makes for the perfect spot to show off prized knick knacks, or even to keep additional books left over from the purple bookcase.