Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

French Lessons: A Designer and an Antiquary’s Remodeled Guesthouses in Reims (Soon Available to Rent)

Search

French Lessons: A Designer and an Antiquary’s Remodeled Guesthouses in Reims (Soon Available to Rent)

February 11, 2019

I have never been to Reims, the city in the Champagne region of France where all of the French kings were once crowned. But, through the magic of Instagram, I’ve spent the last few weeks poring over one of the most classically, quietly lovely projects I’ve seen: a pair of guesthouses and the accompanying family house of the family renovating them, steps from the city’s famous cathedral.

It was Instagram that first led me to discover Les Penates Reims: While researching Nomibis—a flea market based on Reims but shoppable, yes, on Instagram—I stumbled upon @les_penate_reims, a detailed archive that captures a renovation, beginning to end. What kept me hooked was the project’s simplicity—bare floors, a quiet color palette, natural light—with each detail so considered that even the light switches were beautiful.

Who was behind the project, I wondered? Surely a well-known hotelier, or an experienced architect. An email exchange introduced me to Annabelle Brun, a designer who, with partner Brice Bérard, runs an antiques shop (@briceberardantiques). The couple found the house in Reims—an abandoned artist’s studio—and too large for their family, so they set about transforming the extra space into two guest apartments for let. “We thought that it would be nice to create boutique apartments to combine our two professions,” says Brun. This is her seventh renovation, “the third of such a large scale,” she says. Brun and Bérard went about the project with one mantra in mind: “preserving the spirit of the old.”  They now live in one portion with Brun’s 16 year old twin daughters, Rose and Salomé, and Bérard’s 10 year old son, Jean.

As of this writing, Guesthouse 1 is finished and renovations on Guesthouse 2 are underway. Both will open for bookings soon and, in keeping with the couple’s work as antiques purveyors, all of the well-sourced fittings will be for sale.

Stay tuned (and follow @les_penates_reims) for more information. Until then, take a virtual look inside.

Photography courtesy of Les Penates Reims.

Family House

The entrance to the Brun/Bérard house, remodeled. &#8
Above: The entrance to the Brun/Bérard house, remodeled. “I often say that you must never forget the entrance of a house… For me, it is the most important room of the house. It’s the one that gives the tone,” Brun wrote in a recent Instagram post.
Brun and Bérard are masters of the well-placed mirror, for bringing in light and making spaces feel bigger.
Above: Brun and Bérard are masters of the well-placed mirror, for bringing in light and making spaces feel bigger.
The main room, formerly part of the artists&#8
Above: The main room, formerly part of the artists’ industrial, bare-bones studio, now with windows along one side and a kitchen tucked in back. “The house was very damaged, but it’s the soul that led us into making the choices for its architecture,” Brun says. “We have recreated all the spaces with antique materials that we have sourced, and we used our imagination to recreate this place, while respecting the spirit of the house.” To bring in light, the couple had a roughly 30 foot long skylight designed and built custom by a local company.
Fittings are frequently changing, as staging for the couple&#8
Above: Fittings are frequently changing, as staging for the couple’s antiques shop. “All of the furniture and decor in the house was discovered by Brice and myself at professional antique markets,” says Brun. “We work with demolition companies and can salvage interior pieces. We buy on a love-at-first-sight basis.”

Eventually, guests will be able to purchase fittings from their stay; the couple is at work on a website for the guesthouses. In the meantime, their wares are viewable on Instagram at @briceberardantiques and @les_penates_reims.

The kitchen is separated from the main room by a vintage window.
Above: The kitchen is separated from the main room by a vintage window.
The kitchen, in shades of white, with a hex tile backsplash and an accordion-style task light above.
Above: The kitchen, in shades of white, with a hex tile backsplash and an accordion-style task light above.
Above the sink: an antique soap dish.
Above: Above the sink: an antique soap dish.
On the opposite wall: a mirror and a statement-making light switch. The couple also sourced some fittings from Zangra.
Above: On the opposite wall: a mirror and a statement-making light switch. The couple also sourced some fittings from Zangra.
The long main room, in shades of white, pale grey, and yellow.
Above: The long main room, in shades of white, pale grey, and yellow.
Looking out at the small courtyard (and a cache of found green cafe chairs). On the table: a vintage Lampe Gras.
Above: Looking out at the small courtyard (and a cache of found green cafe chairs). On the table: a vintage Lampe Gras.
The &#8
Above: The “back kitchen,” with a newly laid black and white tile floor and cream-colored Smeg fridge. Notice the simple, flat sink skirt.
In one of the bedrooms, the couple built a wardrobe and a ledge to give shape and character to a nondescript square room. The floors are covered in woven mats.
Above: In one of the bedrooms, the couple built a wardrobe and a ledge to give shape and character to a nondescript square room. The floors are covered in woven mats.

Above: In each room: well-sourced fixtures and vintage mirrors.

The master bath, with a tri-fold, 0-year-old barber&#8
Above: The master bath, with a tri-fold, 100-year-old barber’s mirror.

Guesthouse No. 1

The first of the twin guest houses to be completed, with floors that have been sanded and left bare.
Above: The first of the twin guest houses to be completed, with floors that have been sanded and left bare.
A small dining area, with a tall, narrow built-in cupboard beside.
Above: A small dining area, with a tall, narrow built-in cupboard beside.
&#8
Above: “All of the walls are painted in a velvety white,” Brun says. The doors and woodwork are painted in Blanc de Meudon from Argile Peinture.

The couple also created a custom paint color, a green inspired by the tiles in the entryway, with Comptoir des Peintures; the green, along with a few other colors, will be available soon for sale.

The ochre theme from the house continues in one of the guesthouse bedrooms. A mantel, painted glossy black, adds contrast.
Above: The ochre theme from the house continues in one of the guesthouse bedrooms. A mantel, painted glossy black, adds contrast.
The unfinished wall above the mantel adds, as Brun said of the project, &#8
Above: The unfinished wall above the mantel adds, as Brun said of the project, “the spirit of the old;” see Trend Alert: The Excavated Look, 15 Ways for more ideas.
A vintage light and bentwood chair in one corner.
Above: A vintage light and bentwood chair in one corner.
In another, a mirror propped against the wall alongside a glass objet.
Above: In another, a mirror propped against the wall alongside a glass objet.
In the guest house bath, the couple made use of leftover tile from the main house&#8
Above: In the guest house bath, the couple made use of leftover tile from the main house’s back kitchen. (For a similar sink, consider the Enamel Bucket Sink from Labour and Wait.)
The children&#8
Above: The children’s bedroom in the guest house.
Hanging from a peg: another well-placed mirror.
Above: Hanging from a peg: another well-placed mirror.

Guesthouse No. 2

A glimpse of Guesthouse
Above: A glimpse of Guesthouse 2, in progress, and set to open for holiday lets this spring.

Follow the progress at @les_penates_reims (and, for detailed “before” shots, head to the archived Instagram stories).

And for our favorite projects in the French countryside, see:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0