In the winter of 2003, when Merrick and Alice Angle moved into this home, it hadn’t been lived in for 40 years, there wasn’t a bathroom or hot water and there was only one wall socket for the entire house. But it had been built in 1799 in the village of La Croisille-sur-Briance, in the Limousin region of France, a rural area known for its porcelain, enamel and picturesque wooded landscape, and the vines covering the house made it feel like a secret garden. So Merrick and Alice decided they were up for the challenge. They tackled the project slowly, piece by piece. Merrick did most of the work himself, and Alice found the furniture either from brocantes (French junk shops) or through her work as a realtor (she runs an agence immobilier in the nearby town of Treignac). Now the 213-year-old house is home to the couple, their two young daughters and a thriving business, Double Merrick, where they create prints and homewares that are shipped all over the world. Thanks, Merrick & Alice! — Amy Azzarito
Image above: This is in the guest bedroom. The wallpaper was here when we bought the house; it was amazing, but we could only save one whole wall. The velvet chaise longue was given to Alice by a client. The other walls are painted a light gray colour we mixed ourselves.
Image above: This is another angle of the guest room. Odd little collections seem to be everywhere in our house. The accordion is broken, but I have dragged it around with me since my student days in Brighton. The picture of the horse was a gift from an Irish racehorse trainer, Bertie Kerr, to Alice’s great Aunt May. He wanted to marry her, but she wasn’t having any of it!
The full sneak peek continues after the jump . . .
Image above: Our bathroom is widely regarded as being a little odd, but we love it. The shower is made with oiled roof slate, as all the tiles we could find at the time were horrid. Alice found a load of slate in the backyard and came up with the idea to do the shower with them. The painting is one of mine — an abstract on hessian stretched over an old box spring base. It is now used by our two girls to display their collection of rubber ducks! The bath came out of a house sale and cost us all of 20 euros; lifting it, however, was another matter. When we finally got it in place, all we did was paint the outside dark gray.
Image above: Another angle of the bathroom. The hairdresser’s chair came from a brocante in Limoges. I knew if I didn’t buy it, I would regret it forever. We are lucky with storage in our house, as most rooms have large, original cupboards set into the walls (see left-hand side of photo behind chair). The mirror is also from Le Monde Allant Vers, and the print in the gold frame on the mantelpiece is a WPA poster from the ’30s saying, “Now Clean Your Teeth.”
Image above: This is in the kitchen. We’ve always had a thing for window seats, and when we redid the kitchen, it seemed like an obvious thing to do, combining storage and a place to perch while reading or talking. The cushions are Ikea. The photos are all old wedding pictures we have found in thrift stores or junk shops.
Image above: The kitchen is painted in Farrow & Ball’s “Slipper Satin.” The units were all painted in another F&B colour, which is now discontinued. We used oak worktops as a backsplash. The image on the wall is an old school map I found in a local junk shop, and the hook is from an old charcuterie and was used for hanging cured meats; it now is used for hanging colanders.
Image above: This is our Godin range, which is the heart of the house in the winter months. We use it for cooking, and it heats the downstairs. The sideboard is vintage Habitat, bought in Paris. The “En Ville” sign is a recent find of Alice’s; it made us both smile, as we are so far out in the sticks! The zinc spice pots came from Le Monde Allant Vers, a local recycling collective. The floor is something we added — all the slate came from a local slate mine.
Image above: This is our bedroom. For years we slept in the beautiful carved bed (matching the bedside table) that had been left in the house by the previous owner who died in the 1970s. She had bought it for her marriage in 1913, but her husband died in the war, so she lived out the rest of her days a widow. Eventually, with our two little girls who like to get in the bed, it was time to get something larger. I made this bed from reclaimed oak from Alice’s dad’s barn. It is huge — 2mx2m. We love it, but my mother jokingly refers to it as “the Fred Flintstone bed.” Our old bed is now in the guest room, which is well known for its romantic ambiance. The quilt came from the monthly market that happens in our village.
Image above: The fireplace in our bedroom. I love crazy old folk art, and this picture of a castle covered in ivy was a great find. The photos on the mantelpiece are a mix of family pictures, childhood snaps and a picture of our shoes taken by my brother on our wedding day. The soup terrine is chipped and bashed but really beautiful. Alice found it, and I was struck (not for the first time) by how amazing her taste is. Our tastes in interiors can be different, but our home is a collaboration, and I am always amazed by the ideas she comes up with and the things she finds.
Image above: We call this our snug, a small sitting room just off the kitchen where the television watching gets done and the toys live. The harmonium is a beautiful old thing with a deep, resonant sound. It came from the same place as the hairdresser’s chair and has been used on countless recordings. The plastic lobster was dubbed “Bad Boy” by our eldest daughter, Flora; he likes to get in the bath and pinch people. The pictures, from the ’20s, we found in the attic of the house.
Image above: The hallway is one of the things we first fell in love with; it is nice and wide with an original dark oak staircase. The paint we mixed ourselves (it isn’t drastically different from the original colour), and the slate floor we added makes it cool in the summer. The road signs are from the ’20s and actually say “Limoges Automobile Club” on the back.
Image above: Alice saw the house first during a routine visit for work. She described it to me as like something from The Secret Garden, all covered with virgin vine and mysterious. Our neighbors keep telling us to rip off all the creeper, or we will end up with snakes in our bedroom! I sanded down the shutters and painted them a blue green. The original door couldn’t be saved, so we asked a local carpenter to make us an identical door in oak.
Image above: This is the kitchen window. The other side is the window seat. To the right, a really old stone lintel sits and acts as a bench where we can watch the world go by and the cows in the field opposite the house. We are right opposite the village church, but luckily, the bells only ring at mealtimes.