Bloggers beautiful abodes.........Vicki of French Essence

Good morning friends. Hope you had a superb weekend, ours was very nice, dinner with friends, plenty of downtime, long walks, some was all good! And how was yours? Hope wonderful!  Oh boy,  you are in for a royal treat today from someone I consider "blogging royalty" aka a blogging doyenne to me. Sit back, relax and enjoy this gem of a post. Please say hello to the talented and ultra chic........

Now I know to most, Vicki does not need an introduction, she is a beloved name in the world of blogs (and beyond) and amongst her many talents, which include being a world class blogger, stylemaker and entertainer, Vicki is also an accomplished author with not one but two wonderful books under her belt. I never miss a post that Vicki puts out because simply put,  I know that whatever she is talking about is something I need to know. I love her style, take on things, perspective and value her opinion greatly. Her home is the stuff dreams are made of,  and I am beyond excited that she is here with us today, opening up her home and her heart to us. To say its a treat just doesn't properly describe what a true indulgence this post is! So enough of me, let;s hear from Vicki!


How long have you been in your present home?  Is this it for the long haul? Anything you would care to change if you could?

We bought our home in southern France, just outside the village of Saint Rémy de Provence, in 1999 and spent nearly three years restoring the house, planting an olive grove and landscaping the gardens. When we found the property it was an abandoned fruit farm with an old farmhouse that was completely uninhabitable.

What would I change? It’s hard to imagine our home any other way now, as it has largely been a work in progress over the last thirteen years… The farmhouse is very simple with a layout that still works… kitchen, dining, sitting room, library and bedrooms… We have plenty of room for friends and family and good entertaining spaces…

Now I would love to re-decorate… change some of the furniture and the colours… perhaps add a few more contemporary edges… but mostly I still pinch myself and think how fortunate I am to call Mas de Bérard home. It was a crazy, crazy dream to have a home in France and I still cannot believe that it came true…

If you could only live in two rooms of your house, which two would they be?

The kitchen because it seems to be the room where we all congregate when we are together… and when we are two it is still cosy and comfortable.

Our bedroom is one of my favourite rooms. It is spacious and overlooks the garden with a view to the mountains beyond. There is a fireplace that we light in winter… I love nothing more than an early night in front of the fire… reading or watching a film… I enjoy working in our bedroom… it is an oasis of calm where I find it easy to concentrate and write when the mood strikes me… Our farm is always busy with people coming and going… there is usually something happening downstairs… that needs my attention… a job to be done or a question to be answered… The bedroom is my haven…

How would you describe your decorating style?

Simple is probably the answer… Uncluttered and with a mix of the old and the new thrown together. Most of our furnishings have been collected in France or on our travels. Our art is primarily Australian… that reminds me of home… and the decorative bits and pieces, those we have found in flea markets over the years.

I like mixing things up, changing them around… so I am not really sure that I have a particular style… I have been influenced by my years away… it’s hard to escape the French influence… but I imagine that our home reflects our wanderlust life…

 Do you have a favorite color scheme? What is it?

I seem to gravitate to ‘greige’… that mix between grey and beige that the French do so well. I do add touches of colour… but I seem to end up with a neutral palette.

One day I would really like to be brave, shock myself and decorate a home in vibrant shades…  emerald greens, reds… yellows… I admire a colourful canvas but as our Provencal landscape is really the star of our property… the neutral tones do work well… and don’t take away from the exterior.

Favorite room of your house and why?

Does the garden count? I do think of our garden as a room because for many months of the year we live outside… Between May and October we hardly spend any time indoors… About now I am thinking about how to re-style our terrace for the coming season. I like to move the furniture around the garden… to really use it… changing the areas where we dine… or making seating groups on the lawn… The beauty of Provence is the climate… it very rarely rains after April so life outdoors is a given…

Best two tips you can give to anyone looking to tackle the decorating of their own home? Best two things to NOT do?

I can only say buy what you love and take time to decorate. I have learned that short cuts don’t work… it is better to wait than rush in with a compromise that you don’t really want.

If you decorate using pieces that have meaning then your home will always be yours… it will be a reflection of who you are and the life that you have lived. Wherever you move and however frequently… your home will remain.

For me successful decorating takes planning… whether it is the design, the decoration or DIY… time taken is well spent and makes the biggest difference.

Don’t be afraid to follow the heart when decorating… we all make mistakes and there is nothing that can’t be fixed. Sometimes a leap of faith can bring the most amazing results…

What do you think are the most important features for a kitchen?

Our kitchen works hard… we are always many in the summer and in the Christmas holidays. Even though our kitchen is decorated like a dining room… it is very practical. A kitchen in the country needs to be not only homely but also efficient.

Good refrigeration, a large oven, over-sized sink and an extra dishwasher are key features when it comes to cooking for a large crowd. The design of our kitchen works very well… and if I were doing it again today I would make the same layout.

Our kitchen is a series of spaces that are connected… The central room is where the action happens… on one side is a pantry (lots of storage) with the refrigeration and the ‘laundry’ room. In the ‘laundry room’ I have another over-sized sink for flower and plant arranging. On the other side of the central space there is a corridor with a large armoire that holds our glassware and china.

The kitchen is both functional and ambient… to me that is a winning combination.

How do you like to dress up a cocktail table and console in a living room?

Always with flowers… and objects… generally reflecting the season… or my latest finds at the flea market...  In May the roses will be blooming… so all my arranging will revolve around them…

Right about now I usually clear the tables and start again… I try to do this once a year… and the only way I can ‘dress up’ a console is to start from the beginning… to take everything away… mix it all up and let the creativity begin.

I find that the problem is that I become so accustomed to my ‘vignettes’ that it is difficult to envision and re-create new scenes… Pulling everything apart really works for me.

 Any advice on the subject of lighting? 

Lighting is the hardest part of a home to get right and I don’t think I have ever managed that yet. I have been involved in countless renovations and at the end I always seem to miss something…

I like lamplight, chandeliers and wall lights… spots I reserve for kitchens and bathrooms.

Building or renovating requires that you know what lighting you want to use very early on in the project… the problem is finding the decorative pieces that fit the plans. That has always been a challenge for me!

Have a favorite paint color? Do tell!

I do like the Farrow and Ball palette… Elephants Breath, Skimming Stone and Dove Tale work very well together.

  What are a couple of really simple inexpensive things you can do in your home to make it feel "homey" and inviting?

Fill the house with market flowers or foliage from the garden… put single blooms in inexpensive bottles and group them around the home… a few blooms can go a long way…

Use books to decorate… new ones, old ones… to me they really make a space feel welcome…

Paintings… they don’t have to be masterpieces… just works that you create or you love… search the flea markets for pictures that resonate… try painting with water colours…

Fabrics… vintage fabrics can be inexpensive and add a wonderful feel to any home… thrown over a sofa… or made into cushions…

And my favourite… candles… lots of them… scented and plain… different widths and different heights… in containers… or standing alone…

Fill in the blank- If money was no object, the very first thing I would buy for my home would be.............A large tapestry to hang in the stair well…  xv senses are in overload.Every one of these pictures could warrant a magazine cover!  How about yours? Told you Vicki was a world class style maker, from those exquisite gardens that remind of me of a Monet painting to the ultra chic interiors, I would say Vicki your home is a dream! I can see however that it just did not happen but is a carefully curated collection of all the things you love and cherish, and the fact that it was a labor of love is absolutely evident! I share your love of flowers and I cannot blame you for saying your gardens are your favorite "room"....they are positively heavenly! 
As I had mentioned Vicki has put out two fabulous books, and they are absolute must haves if you are like me, and an avid book collector of beautiful coffee table books!  You can purchase Vicki's books through her website. In addition  here's a peek at a few other images of Vicki's charmed French life.....

Yes, this iconic picture of this storybook entrance is Vicki's! One of my all time favorites!!

  Most of these lovely photos were taken by Carla Coulson  for Living4Media
If you are one of the few who does not know of French Essence, by all means do go over and subscribe/follow will become a daily habit, trust me! Click here to visit and get to know more about Vicki and her charmed French life. Many thanks Vicki for opening up your magnificent home to my readers and I and to everyone else for  stopping in to say hello and see what's happening over here. Wishing every one of you a fabulous day!

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