What began as a simple bath renovation in this 19th-century house in Normandy soon spiraled into a complete decorative do-over. The key to it all? A palette of rich, unexpected colors
When the owner of this 19th-century Normandy village house first moved in three years ago, he thought he would simply give the place a coat of paint. After all, it had been completely restored, including the construction of a 1,000-square-foot addition, in the 1980s. Everything seemed in relatively good shape. But upon closer inspection of the master bath, he saw that beneath the marble was pretty wood paneling. He called on interior designer , who had also renovated the owner's Left Bank apartment in Paris, and together they decided to rip out the marble and tile except for the flooring, replace all the fixtures, and repaint the paneling in light colors, so it looked "like it was the house's original bathroom," Potisek says. The problem was, once that was done, "the rest of the house looked awful in comparison," he says with a laugh. "So we kept going."
In the drawing room of a 19th-century Normandy house decorated by Franz Potisek, the 19th-century armchairs are French, the cocktail table is custom made, and the curtains are of a plaid wool by Sanderson. The door and walls are painted in Zuber's Matte in Noir de Fumée, Femme Chocolate, and Frau Gretschen, and the beams are in Farrow & Ball's Estate Emulsion in Eating Room Red.
The key to the makeover was the use of color—a lot of it. The owner suggested "green with touches of violet, or blue with touches of red," Potisek recalls. "But I didn't want it to be rustic, with plain wood, like you see in most country houses. I find that sad."
Potisek designed the dining room cabinetry, the late-20th-century chairs are Spanish, the French chandelier is from the late 19th century, and the early-20th-century rug is from the Middle East.
The designer prides himself on being a colorist and wanted to make a stronger statement: "People often use beige and off-white because they are afraid to use color, but I am not. I think color is life!" He suggested they use all four shades—blue, red, green, and violet—but muted. And throw in some pink, too, "like faded flowers."
The armchair in the library is by Nils Holger Moormann, the sculpture above the armchair is Indonesian, and the light fixtures are by the Conran Shop.
In the living room, Potisek painted the woodwork two tones of celadon and the beams a dull red, and covered the armchairs in a smoky blue and a purple. The curtains are the same blue and green as a Scottish plaid—the owner's suggestion. They also used plaid fabric—in blue—for the upstairs hall wallcovering. "I love plaid because it gives the idea of comfort," says the homeowner. "For me it is very country."
The kitchen's backsplash tiles are by Carré, the oven is by Aga, and the sink fitting is by Grohe; the custom cabinetry is painted in Farrow?& Ball's Estate Emulsion in Calke Green, and the terra-cotta flooring is original to the house.>
The oversize fireplaces, which were new when installed in the 1980s, were a big draw for the owner. "They make the little rooms feel so warm," he says. But Potisek found them a bit too nouveau; he applied a patina finish so they appear to be the same age as the house.
In the master bedroom, the walls are covered in a Jasper hemp, and the chair rail and trim are painted in Zuber's Matte in Payne.
The kitchen was gutted and replaced—all that remains are the original terra-cotta floor tiles and the beams, which they left exposed and painted white. The cabinetry and fixtures are vaguely retro. "We designed it so it looked like it had been there forever," Potisek says.
Portraits bought on eBay in the corridor outside a guest room; the wool fabric on the walls is by Holland & Sherry, the armchair came from a flea market in Saint-Ouen, and the rug is by Crucial Trading.
The decor has that same timeless feeling. The owner bought much of the furnishings and artwork on eBay and at the Paris auction house Drouot. But he also found pieces, like the metal towel rack in the master bath, at flea markets near Avignon in Provence.
The tub in the master bath is by Jacob Delafon with fittings by THG, the floor tiles are by Winckelmans, and the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball's Estate Emulsion in Off-White.
The goal, says Potisek, "was to give historical integrity back to the house, to make it appear as if we didn't do any work so that nobody wonders what period the house was done. That's when we know we have done a good job."
ORIGINAL TEXT BY CATHERINE SCOTTO. Originally published in ELLE DECORATION France.
The pergola and Adirondack chair are painted in Zuber's Payne.