above, photo from Nest, December 2010, Number 66
To begin today’s post, I thought I’d share with you an odd coincidence I experienced last night…at the time, I was struggling with the Dutch translation of three articles and thought to myself, there must be a story published in English about the Garnier’s and their extraordinary home…just as I was falling asleep, I noticed a google search mentioning the March 2011 Veranda…could it be? I thought I was hallucinating, as it was late and my eyes were weary…to my surprise and cheerful delight, it was true! What a wonderful reward after days of trying to translate Dutch! I immediately read the article in my March issue of Veranda, soaking up everything about the eleven year restoration of this Belgian home. The most bizarre coincidence comes with the title of the Veranda article, “Belgian Beauty”…I had named and re-named yesterday’s post about four times before finally deciding on “a belgian beauty”…hmmm…I guess it was out there in the universe and I channelled it into my subconscious!
If you are a Veranda subscriber and have yet to read the article, no worries, the photos in today’s post are from three different publications and will only enhance your experience. What I will share with you, from Veranda, is the story behind this passionate project! Eleven years ago, Brigitte and Alain Garnier purchased Vaucelleshop, a historic Flemish Estate located in walking distance of the Dutch border outside the medieval town of Damme. The country chateau dates back to 1275 when it became the outpost of the French Cistercian Abbaye de Vaucelles. Today, the Garnier’s look after eleven lucious acres of landscape in the lowlands near the sea, and continue to restore the seven historic buildings dating from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The kitchen, that I posted about yesterday, was actually a former pig barn! Interestingly, it is linked to the main structure with a windowed passageway! How romantic! The first building to undergo restoration was the 1876 farmhouse where grain had been stored above the living quarters. Stripped down to nothing more than four walls, Alain hired a restoration contractor and they essentially built a house in the house. Within the original brick walls they designed a new foundation, limestone walls and added a third floor. Amazing! One of their favorite creations is the sculptural cement and oak staircase Alain designed for the entrance hall (pictured above). Finished in gray brown chalk plaster, its dramatic curves echo the history of the abbey.
I love this quote from Alain eloquently describing his journey, “We had the patience and the passion to make this house…we put our lives and our souls into it”
below, photos from More than Classic, number 6, 2006
below, photos from Tijdloos (Timeless) number 12, Autumn 2009
factual resource, Veranda, March 2011