Author and editor Karen McCartney and her partner, writer and stylist David Harrison were presented with an appealing opportunity when a home that had long been in her family in South-West France was up for sale. Despite being based in Sydney, the Duras property was too good to pass by, and Karen explains ‘we put our hands up – refusing to see the distance as an obstacle.’

The house overlooks fields of sunflowers – basically a scene of Van Gogh paintings in their own backyard. Karen describes the aesthetic within as a ‘rustic barn’, combined with a mix of vintage items by designers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, items scoured at the famous Parisian antique markets and Clignancourt, and a touch of home with lights from Angelucci in Melbourne. An antipodean flourish, in rural France!

Karen explains how she and David drew upon their previous design experiences to pursue a strategy here that avoided perfection. Rather, they mixed eras, materials and encouraged surprises to create a space that feels ‘authentic and comfortable.’

Favourite corners of the home include the terrace featuring geometric tiles by Popham as a space for an afternoon book and evening G+T. Prized possessions include the 1970s tile-topped Roger Capron coffee table, and 19th-century pewter vessel.

While the tyranny of distance prevents Karen and David from living full time in their French retreat, this does open the opportunity to share the space with guests. Karen explains ‘we are delighted to do this. We can only be there some of the time, so for other people who appreciate the same things as we do, is part of the reasons we are doing this.’ If you think you might appreciate this space – then this dreamy European getaway is yours for the booking!

The French home of designer Karen McCartney and partner David Harrison. Photo – Ian Wallace.

French rustic meets clean modern living. Photo – Ian Wallace.

A clean neutral palette. Photo – Ian Wallace.

The outdoor area is a perfect place for a G+T. Photo – Ian Wallace.

The interiors mix eras and styles in an understated fashion. Photo – Ian Wallace.

Small ceramic details in Karen’s French home. Photo – Ian Wallace.

Handmade details in the living room. Photo – Ian Wallace.

White daub walls and fresh French linen. Photo – Ian Wallace.

The house is set in a dreamy French garden. Photo – Ian Wallace.

French provincial, with a modern and personal twist. Photo – Ian Wallace.

After years of being in the family, Karen and David jumped at the opportunity to make this place their own. Photo – Ian Wallace.


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