n the heart of Provence, a most enchanting corner of south France, north of the Côte d'Azur, there is a picturesque farmhouse owned by a Swiss couple. He comes from the German region and she's from the French region. Throughout the years, the natural light and colours of this region have enchanted many painters and artists, Cezanne and Picasso are just a few. The farmhouse had already largely been restored by the owners. They have now converted the empty barn, which was once used for goats and horses.
This extensive property is surrounded by a long stone wall. Inside the courtyard: a succession of adorable shaded patches, an outdoor kitchen and even a large swimming pool. There is also a outbuilding, which the owner of this property, who works in the field of communications, has converted into a photographic studio.
The owner is a PR living in Switzerland. Although, he has been coming with his family to this Provençal hideout for over twenty years, he also rents it out to holiday makers. The idea to convert the barn comes from a need to gather his belongings when the rest of the house is rented out. His Swiss friend Marc Probst, one of the owners of the design store Probst Eggimann in Belp, was in charge of the design project. This build was managed directly from Switzerland with the help on site of a French architect.
The love which our owner has for this corner of the world and the respect he has for its vernacular architecture are clear in every construction detail. The barn has an open ceiling. Connected to the main part of the house, it was converted into a large living room with a library built on a mezzanine floor. The flooring of the mezzanine level is made using old beams salvaged from a nearby barn, before it was to be pulled down. Local craftsmen cut them to the right size, laid them on the ground, numbered and then precisely installed them against each other to construct the floor. The same attention was given to the ground, made by Swiss flooring specialists: clay mixed with lavender, which was then buffed with local beeswax.
Following intense discussions, it was decided to plaster over part of the original walls. In fact, humidity seeped through the bottom-half and this made a major rebuild necessary. And this is how a wonderful balance between vernacular and confortable living came about. Lights shine on the feature wall; this creates the illusion of a much bigger space, light and airy and also welcoming.
During the design project, it was also decided that the tiny wine cellar, in which they had to get on their hands and knees to get in, had to be dug into the ground to make a room of a suitable height. This space is now a real “cantine”, an informal dining room in the basement. Slightly cooler than the rest of the house, here our couple can welcome friends and share the many Provençal delicacies they enjoy.
This interest goes beyond the farm builds as it also includes the surrounding landscape. In fact, apart from the olive trees which surround the property, our couple have also other farm land in the area and with passion and effort they make their own oil. Therefore, this new living room is the perfect space to rest after their labours of love.
Refurbishment of the barn in a farmhouse
Location: Provence, France
Interior design and furniture: Probst + Eggimann AG, Belp, Switzerland
Photos: Courtesy Probst + Eggimann AG