La Vie en Rose: Inside a Costumier’s Dreamlike, DIY Maison in France
How would a French costumier style her own stately country house? With quiet, rosy hues, cinematic hints of silver, and linens she sews herself.
For months we’ve been following French stylist and costumier Céline Sathal on Instagram as she slowly and with care restores a traditional hôtel particulier in a tiny village outside of Tolouse. Sathal, who works as a costume designer for the French theater, opera, and cinema, found the 1870s house on Le Bon Coin, the French equivalent of Craiglist (“where you can find little spoons and big houses,” she says). The house, formerly inhabited by a notary’s office, is situated in the small town of Grenade, “a medieval village,” Sathal says, near Toulouse.
“The house was in good condition but not everything was to my taste,” Sathal explains; when she found it, it was done up with ornate chandeliers and heavy curtains. Taking on much of the work herself, she tore everything out of the four-bedroom, four-bathroom house, leaving only the faded pastel-colored walls, and adding silver-tipped lightbulbs, vintage bentwood and rattan chairs, old projector lights, and sheepskins, collected for each of the births of her three children. Now, Sathal has moved into the house full-time from Marseille, where she was born, along with her boyfriend Christophe and their children, Kélit (who studies in another city, and comes home on weekends), Solelh, and Lum.
It’s a work in progress, Sathal notes, but the results are romantic and dreamlike, with hints of the unexpected (and a few budget tips). Take a look.
Photography by Eefje de Coninck for Remodelista.
Above: Stepping into the house, entrants are greeted by a cheerful blue door, a rattan chair, and panels of mirrors.
“When I arrived in the house, the atmosphere was quite baroque, with big velvet curtains everywhere and Versailles-style chandeliers,” Sathal says. “So I started by removing everything.” She traveled from Marseille with two workers she had collaborated with previously, and together they got to work for an intensive 15-day rehab, with Sathal painting the bedrooms and her studio herself.
She opted to keep the pale, faded-by-time pastel colors in many of the rooms, then added select pieces she made and collected herself. “I collect a lot of my furniture just down from my house in the square, where there is a lot of vide-greniers [flea markets], and whenever I go, there is the chance of finding something good.”
Above: Hanging from the banister is a Tamok mask. “They come from Amazonia, Guyana, made by the Wayana,” Sathal says. “It was Christophe who brought them back after a trip to Guyana, because he is a director and wrote a play with a young Wayana woman.” Above: The original escalier remains intact. Above: The living area features the house’s original grandeur (large, mismatched windows; walls painted in the palest of pink) and irreverent charm added by Sathal: vintage lamps, and an ingenious solution: an Ikea sofa, a gift from a friend, that Sathal split in two, with new slipcovers made by French company Bemz.
“I never spend a lot of money on furniture and decoration,” Sathal says. “I collect, I make, and I buy at flea markets.”
Above: “The pastel painted walls were already there and I liked their weathered side,” Sathal says of the pale pink walls. “The trim is typical of the style of the house and is original.”
The floors are also existing: “The workers sanded some floors and I finished them with a matte varnish,” she says.
Above: To the kitchen, through the door at right. Note the glass lamp with the whimsically tall shade, set unexpectedly on the floor. Above: Sathal designed the simply fitted kitchen around the mantel. “I wanted all the pretty things in the kitchen to be visible, and I wanted a big work plan,” she says. She designed built-in shelves to serve as counters on either side, integrating the mantel in the center. “The shelves were built by a carpenter known to my father in Marseille,” she says. “I took very precise measurements and made a plan and he realized them. They were brought back in a truck and the workers put them in.”
The petite dishwasher is made by Bosch, housed snugly in its own wooden worktop, and the range is by Smeg.
Above: On display are Sathal’s collections. “These are dishes that I find mostly in flea markets, and when my boyfriend travels, he brings me back finds from different countries,” she says. “I find tea towels in the vide-greniers and I also make linens.” The low black backsplash is made of Italian tiles. Above: A sink, fitted into a wooden counter. Above it is an old projector light, a nod to Sathal’s work in film.
Above: Details of the livable but artful kitchen.
Above: Mismatched chairs surround the breakfast table. Above: Off of the living room are two of the childrens’ rooms. Above: The sparsely fitted bedroom. “This room and Kélit’s room are a continuation of the living room with the white sofa,” Sathal says. She found the torn crocheted blanket at a flea market and repaired it herself.
Above L: A slab of stone transforms a radiator into a place for display. Above R: “I found this lamp in the Café Brocante in my village and I wove the wool lampshade,” Sathal says.
Above: A quirky desk and chair collected by Sathal. The copper pipes are newly installed by the plumber as an upgrade to the old heating system. Above: On the opposite side of the living area is the dining room. Above: “This table is a gift from my father,” Sathal says. “He bought a board made from a single tree at a wooden wholesaler and a carpenter made the legs. It is a table that follows me everywhere, in the three houses I’ve had. This is both my cutting table and also the table of great festive meals.” Above: Mismatched chairs Sathal has collected surround the table. The tiny white wall sconces that appear throughout the house are from Zangra. Above: Sathal at work at the dining table. Above: Sathal’s addition of mirrored panels in just a few rooms throughout the house adds, as she says, “life, movement, relief, light, even more depth.” She also opted for silver-tipped lightbulbs throughout, as in this deconstructed pendant light: “I don’t like too-bright light,” she says. Above: A music room for the musicians in the family: Christophe, Kélit, and Solelh. Sathal built the shelves herself.
Above: Two of Sathal’s unusual vintage lights.
Above: Upstairs: the rest of the bedrooms. Above: A bedroom with pink linens and silver wall sconces. “I make all of the pillowcases and some duvet covers,” Sathal says. “Every sheepskin was bought for the birth of my children.” Above: The bedrooms are fitted simply, with handmade linens and an unexpected lamp or chair. Above: A sheepskin in another sunlit bedroom. Above: A bathroom with intricately patterned tile and a terra cotta floor. Above: The double doors off of the living room, late in the day. Above: The entryway of the hôtel particulier, surrounded by terraces for eating outdoors. Above: A private corner, for lounging.
For more French makers and designers we admire, see our posts on French Style. And tour more houses in France:
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