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April 15, 2024 —

Home tour: Marion Larpent

French couple Marion and Frederick transformed a crumbling old barn into a beautiful gîte to rent out as well as use themselves, mixing vintage finds with a contemporary finish
Vintage dining table and a mint green spiral staircase in a white interior
modern kitchen decorated with vintage objects in a modernised French barn conversion
Alena Walker
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Marion Larpent’s charming gîte is located in a small village between Normandy and Brittany, 10 minutes from the farm where she and her partner, Frederick, their two ponies and three cats live. They bought the gîte in 2022, taking over a year to completely renovate from floor to roof before opening the doors as a rental with the perks of using the house for themselves as and when.Marion Larpent ad partner in their French gite decorated with vintage furniture and objects.a mint green spiral staircase runs up through a white interior, decorated with vintage finds. old wooden furniture in a modernised home decorated with a mix of vintage pictures and contemporary art. Dining table with vintage chairs and other old furniture in a modernised home.

From crumbling barn to contemporary gîte

“We wanted to manage the property by ourselves,” says Marion. “We don’t live here full time, but in between preparing the gîte for new guests, we always take the opportunity to spend some quality time there. We visit most weeks to take time to rest, enjoy a wood fire, drink tea and read.”

“In the future, we will hire a person to clean up. But the fact that we both come to prepare the gîte for new visitors makes it easier and more pleasant for us.”

Their gîte, located in a popular seaside location near Mont-Saint-Michel, is a small stone-built village house abandoned many years before and used as a barn for livestock. Despite the dirt floor, crumbled chimney and broken windows, Marion and Frederick had many ideas for redesigning the gîte ready to open in summer 2023.a cosy desk area in the corner of a room with vintage furniture and other vintage styling details

an open plan kitchen and dining area in an old French barn conversion, with a mint green spiral staircase and lots of vintage furniture and objects decorating the space. Modern kitchen decorated with vintage finds. an old vintage wooden cabinet displaying glassware and tableware and other vintage objects. an airy living room in a French barn conversion with vintage furniture and other vintage finds decorating the space.

Mixing modern features with vintage finds

“It was basically a big building site, and the only original part we’ve kept are the stone walls,” says Marion. “The stairs were an important part of the renovation as we wanted to create a centrepiece spiral staircase made by an ironworker based on a design by a German architect. We’ve brought in other details, like the wall mouldings, old doors and the beige stove, which create the impression that the house has always been that way.”

With its cathedral ceiling, large bay window and wood stove, Marion wanted to honour the spirit of this rural property by blending vintage furniture with contemporary materials.

“We really enjoyed decorating this house while respecting the idea of an old village house,” she says. “We installed pretty, retro porcelain switches and adapted old wooden doors to the rooms upstairs. We sourced an old bathtub from a castle near Angers, renovating the interior and leaving traces of the past on the outside. I found it on Leboncoin (A French marketplace for individuals to sell to each other), and I went to pick her up with my father from a very old couple who I will never forget.”

old roll top bath reused in a modernised French barn conversion. Bathroom with a wall of old vintage mirrorsBed headboard made from reclaimed wood and vintage details decorating the spacea bed nook hidden behind panelled walls and old vintage doors.

A sanctuary inspired by the past

Marion’s choices in interior design remain faithful to her desire to respect the rustic heritage of the gîte. Mismatched timeworn mirrors collage the bathroom wall, and contemporary lighting hangs from a singular wall-to-wall wooden ceiling beam. Antiquated second-hand French furniture is juxtaposed against the kitchen’s minimal open shelving, which holds sky-blue glass jars above a polished jade green tile splashback.

“We just wanted to feel good in this house, cut off from time and the world with no TV,” says Marion. “It was quite instinctive when I was shopping in flea markets, and I just knew where an object or a piece of furniture would have its place. We have always been attracted by old buildings, which we believe have a soul. Our priority is to feel good, to feel in place, in a house. A house should be a refuge.”

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