French Country Style in Scotland

As you know, I have been given a monthly column on Decor8 – only the most beautiful interiors blog ever – I chose to share the story of Arlene and David Munro-Wise who live in this 200 year old Georgian farmhouse, located in the magical area of Lunan bay, just north of Dundee.

Please do have a look.

As a couple they share an artistic vision and have a proven track record for rescuing ancient houses. They previously restored their own 400-hundred-year-old home in France and then spent nine years thereafter undertaking restoration projects for clients all over Provence. They then decided to return to Scotland, where Arlene was born and brought up, to be nearer family and old friends.

On arrival we were immediately bowled over by Arlene’s warmth and incredible sense of style.

You can see her stunning landscape paintings dotted around her home: she studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, then went on to do an MA in Theatre Design. She created the sets for Scottish Opera for five years while her son was a child, she then met David and remarried and moved to France.

Arlene describes the interior as ‘dark, gloomy and hideous’ when they bought it; they wanted to open up the roof spaces, expose the trusses and create new windows and roof lights to enhance the light.

The most dramatic transformation is undoubtedly the kitchen. Never has the phrase ‘let there be light’ been more appropriate. Arlene and David have deliberately exposed the tactile pinkish stone walls and ceiling rafters, installed four Velux roof lights, replaced an existing window and installed glazed double doors to access the garden. “I love the juxtaposition between old and new,” Arlene adds. Finding the original, time-worn flagstone floors in the kitchen was a joyous moment,” she reveals. “The kitchen floor had been covered in shiny black tiles and paired with red gloss-painted Artex walls and a dark pine kitchen. Some of the flagstones were damaged but we were able to repair them. We chose made-up units that came ready for painting, which I did myself in a soft shade of grey. The units and central island are topped with white Italian composite quartz work surfaces. Arlene is an able cook, entertaining for friends is effortless when you have co-ordianted events on the scale of the Dubai World Cup.

The star feature, is an old door suspended on a sliding wheeled mechanism against the kitchen’s exposed stone wall. Battered and studded with monster-sized nails, the door is 400 years old and was carefully transported from the couple’s former home in France. “My brother rigged up a suitably ancient looking sliding system to hang it from,” adds Arlene.

When it comes to buying things for the house Arlene confesses to loving a bargain. “I’m a truffler!” she laughs. Her truffling to date has resulted in furniture from India, Dubai, France and the UK, where sources range from auction houses to TK Maxx and online.

Find out more about Arlene’s work here at Arlmunro Working in a freelance capacity they run a business creating events: staging some of the biggest and most extravagant shows in the world, from concept through to production, including the Armani tent at the Dubai World Cup.

A home in France is a dream for me, and not an impossible one I feel, I think the first step is to rent somewhere and get to know an area and decide if French life is realistic for you. I have a neighbour who has made this dream reality, management coach, Roger Thomas.

Here is a link to his beautiful French holiday home, Bladanel, pictured above, half way between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Roger is an expert actually in helping people turn their dreams into reality. As a coach and a friend, within minutes he can take you out of your comfort zone and into a place where you are questioning what you do and why you do it, leading you quickly to working much more effectively and magically, closer to your goals. Get in touch with Roger promptly should you wish to ether rent his house in Lot et Garonne, or gain from his expert business experience! His fees are reasonable and tailored to your needs.

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