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Riverside House: A Normandy Guesthouse from an Upstart American Restaurateur

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Riverside House: A Normandy Guesthouse from an Upstart American Restaurateur

December 14, 2020

Jordan Feilders is the American who introduced California-style artisanal burger and taco trucks to Paris. He was newly arrived from San Francisco in 2012 when he rolled out his mobile catering business, Cantine California, which made such a splash that Anthony Bourdain paid an enthusiastic visit and The New York Times reported: “Food Trucks in Paris? U.S. Cuisine Finds Open Minds, and Mouths.” Cantine California continues, but Feilders and his French wife, Tatiana Dupond, the parents of two young girls, now divide their time between Paris and Normandy, where they’ve been fixing up a 19th century house and outbuildings situated along the Seine.

Now complete and just 100 kilometers from Paris, Riverside House is set up as a B&B for group (or pod) getaways and events: reservations are available for a minimum of four rooms and a maximum of seven. Feilders oversaw the remodel and likes to think of the results as California style in the French countryside. To us, it feels very Gallic—and appealing. Take a look.

Photography courtesy of Riverside House.

The brick-and-stone structure was built in 83, and, over the years, used as a fishing lodge, thanks to its riverfront location, and, most recently, as a vacation house.
Above: The brick-and-stone structure was built in 1883, and, over the years, used as a fishing lodge, thanks to its riverfront location, and, most recently, as a vacation house.

“It’s in a style known as maison bourgeouise,” explains Feilders, “My impression is the combination was for people moving their way up the economic ladder, who could afford a mix of stone (traditionally a more noble material in France) and brick (a more working-class option).” The century-old roof tiles are clay; Feilders installed new zinc gutters to match the originals.

In the courtyard, early-th century outbuildings are the remains of a farm that pre-dates the house. Newly shored up, this annex serves as extra guest quarters.
Above: In the courtyard, early-19th century outbuildings are the remains of a farm that pre-dates the house. Newly shored up, this annex serves as extra guest quarters.
The terra-cotta-tiled entry opens to a living room with a wood-burning stove and Simon and Garfunkel&#8
Above: The terra-cotta-tiled entry opens to a living room with a wood-burning stove and Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits on display. Feilders worked on the project with his friend Gilles Tombeur, a Paris-based interior architect, who designed Cantine California, the Paris restaurant (which Feilders opened thanks to the success of his food trucks, and sold last year to focus on catering). “At Riverside House, Gilles helped me with the layout and the technical renovation plans.”

A major first task was redoing the electricity and plumbing, and adding central heating and insulation: “Traditionally, French country houses are freezing,” says Feilders. “I had 30 centimeters of insulation added to all the ceilings.” He recruited a local crew: “masons, electrician, plumber, metal workers, all based within 30 kilometers of us.” And Feilders himself was on-site daily: ” I’d had hands-on renovation experience in Paris, plus a lifetime hobby of building forts in the woods.”

Fielders replaced an inefficient 60s fireplace with a French Invicta stove: &#8
Above: Fielders replaced an inefficient 1960s fireplace with a French Invicta stove: “when that thing is cranking, it warms up the entire ground floor.” The sofa is is the Canapé Lenakine from AM.PM, “the French equivalent of Habitat.” The ceiling light is Zangra’s Porcelain and Metal Lamp.
The house had been last occupied in the 70s and was left furnished. Feilders kept the best pieces, including this piano, a 0-year-old Gabriel Gavreau (&#8
Above: The house had been last occupied in the 1970s and was left furnished. Feilders kept the best pieces, including this piano, a 130-year-old Gabriel Gavreau (“it’s newly tuned; we’re waiting for Elton John to stop by”), and mixed the antiques with pale modernist designs.
A painting by Caroline Denervaud hangs over another AM.PM sofa.
Above: A painting by Caroline Denervaud hangs over another AM.PM sofa.
The dining room has a Scandinavian vibe.
Above: The dining room has a Scandinavian vibe.
Dupond, Feilders, and their daughter, Penelope. On request, the couple provide guests with an in-house cook and they offer catering for events, such as weddings.
Above: Dupond, Feilders, and their daughter, Penelope. On request, the couple provide guests with an in-house cook and they offer catering for events, such as weddings.
Feilders had the dining table made from leftover pine used for cabinets and headboards. The Hay J77 dining chairs came out of his Paris restaurant.
Above: Feilders had the dining table made from leftover pine used for cabinets and headboards. The Hay J77 dining chairs came out of his Paris restaurant.
The kitchen is a combination of Ikea and custom—and perhaps does have a coastal California feel.
Above: The kitchen is a combination of Ikea and custom—and perhaps does have a coastal California feel.
Oak display shelves divide the dining area from the kitchen. The oak-fronted Ikea cabinets are topped with a concrete counter fabricated in Paris. Feilders sourced the brass backsplash from Tartaix, a Paris metal store in business since .
Above: Oak display shelves divide the dining area from the kitchen. The oak-fronted Ikea cabinets are topped with a concrete counter fabricated in Paris. Feilders sourced the brass backsplash from Tartaix, a Paris metal store in business since 1919.
A detail of the shelf/partition.
Above: A detail of the shelf/partition.
One of the four bedrooms in the main house (there are also three bedrooms in the annex). The wicker lights are from a Moroccan import store in Paris.
Above: One of the four bedrooms in the main house (there are also three bedrooms in the annex). The wicker lights are from a Moroccan import store in Paris.
Feilders installed seven new bathrooms in the house and annex, no two exactly alike. This one has one of the house&#8
Above: Feilders installed seven new bathrooms in the house and annex, no two exactly alike. This one has one of the house’s original sinks set in a tiled niche. (Pink tiles sourced from Palatino.)
The annex has a farmhouse vibe. To create this suite, Feilders had the attic floor removed to expose the beams and cathedral ceiling.
Above: The annex has a farmhouse vibe. To create this suite, Feilders had the attic floor removed to expose the beams and cathedral ceiling.
A rattan headboard and Porcelain and Brass Sconce from Zangra.
Above: A rattan headboard and Porcelain and Brass Sconce from Zangra.
Italian terrazzo tiles from Palatino paired with an original sink and paneled door.
Above: Italian terrazzo tiles from Palatino paired with an original sink and paneled door.
A built-in window bench with a view.
Above: A built-in window bench with a view.
The Seine runs through the property and there are walking paths along the river. There are also châteaux within easy striking distance and Monet&#8
Above: The Seine runs through the property and there are walking paths along the river. There are also châteaux within easy striking distance and Monet’s garden at Giverny is 40 minutes away. Riverside House is near the village of Muids—from Paris, it’s under an hour and a half by car or train, and six hours by bike.

In need of an escape? Browse our Rental House archive for more ideas, including:

Greatest Hits: 37 Top Rental Houses Featured on Remodelista

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 1, 2019.

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