Country French Fall/Winter 2021

Country French showcases luxury homes that epitomize the spirit and beauty of French country style. With stunning stonework, windows, and old-world flooring, as well as magnificent fabrics and fully equipped kitchens, these homes are owned by devotees of the style. Large, beautiful photos in a clean design and minimal text take readers on a virtual tour of each residence.

United States
Meredith Operations Corporation

in this issue

1 min
from the editors

The allure of the French countryside has enticed countless Francophiles from the United States, England, and elsewhere to pack up and put down roots among its picturesque landscapes and centuries-old villas. Born in Britain, Sharon Santoni made that move 24 years ago, but she still pinches herself every time she awakens to the beauty of her 1850 maison and its surrounding gardens, which she has lovingly cultivated. Sharon relishes the opportunity to entertain friends and family in the outdoor living spaces she has decorated with charming vintage finds (“Untamed Spirit,” left and page 28). On the opposite side of the Atlantic and two centuries earlier, an elegant New York home began its own design journey. Built in 1651, the house—now under the stewardship of interior designer Sallie Giordano—has undergone multiple additions…

4 min
soft touch

After school and on weekends, Amanda Puckett’s family of four seems to multiply. “When you have teenage sons, you never really know who or what you’re going to come home to,” Amanda says. “Classmates and teammates arrive in packs, and there is always something going on. I love the loud voices and all the laughter and wouldn’t want it any other way.” The family’s Madison, Mississippi, property is a hot spot for good reason. The home is located on 10 acres that offer endless outdoor entertainment: a swimming pool, fishing pond, basketball court, and batting cage—not to mention a 60-yard practice football field. But inside, a whisper-soft palette imbues a sense of calm with light, low-maintenance finishes and fabrics that afford a carefree vibe. The soothing interior mood belies the extensive transformation…

5 min
graceful overtures

Photos and lots of tear sheets greeted Houston interior designer Alex Elam when she first met with a young couple to help them design their future house. “My client had a large collection of pictures she’d found on websites, Instagram, and Pinterest, and she had circled elements of rooms that she loved,” Elam says. “We knew from the get-go that she wanted reclaimed white oak floors, plaster walls, reclaimed beams, and a steel window over the kitchen sink.” That portfolio of inspiration ended up guiding the entire three-year project, from the blueprint stage to onsite decisions about stain colors. Architect Travis Mattingly and builders Brian Thompson and Bobby Lawton benefitted from the shared imagery, too. It was clear to the design team that their clients favored interiors that reflected the French…

3 min
untamed spirit

Sharon Santoni has never really lost her “pinch me” reaction to Normandy, France. She still feels a strong sense of wonderment, even though it’s been 24 years since this British-born Francophile moved into her 1850 maison, 11 years since she rolled out her blog My French Country Home, and 10 years since she started hosting intimate tours throughout France. In the beginning, however, Sharon and her husband, Eric, had a few realities to face. “The paint was tired, the plumbing basic, and the wiring,” Sharon says with a roll of her eyes. Previous owners lived in other homes and paid only occasional visits. “So, it was furnished with the usual accumulation of stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else,” she says. Still, it came with a richness of alluring quirks—like the ancient…

5 min
modern romance

Twenty-two chickens serve as the wakeup call at Daniel and Dana Vrechek’s 8-acre property near Gilroy, California. That’s when Dana’s bare feet take in the solid feel of wide-plank, oil-finished oak floors as she makes her way to the kitchen, where sunlight will just be starting to poke in. “I’m not a morning person,” Dana admits. “With that in mind, I wanted my kitchen facing east so I could have the morning sunshine streaming in. That feels like a big luxury to me.” The desire for light, happy interiors stems from Dana’s childhood, when she leafed through her grandmother’s photo albums of visits to relatives in Norway. “A lot of the homes had darker exteriors, but inside they were light and warm and happy,” Dana says. “My grandma would talk about…

4 min
continental calm

Thirty miles from Manhattan, at the end of a secluded cove that meanders its way to the Atlantic Ocean, lies the 367-year-old home of Sallie Giordano. “It’s so close to the city, but it feels forever and a day away,” she says. It also feels more of Europe than of New York. At the water’s edge, manicured boxwood hedges and an abundance of blooming hydrangeas are a reminder of the English seaside. Inside, the house is at once Provençal and Gustavian—mostly traditional in style though punctuated by the occasional piece of modern art or sculptural silhouette. French doors, Louis XVI furnishings, and pale painted—rather than gilded—surfaces evoke the south of France and the best of Sweden in equal measure. “No one does traditional style quite like the French,” Sallie says. “I…