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Interiorssneak peeks

A Century-Old Home in the Normandy Countryside Layered with Indian Textiles

by Kelli Kehler

Usha Bora and her partner Claudio Cambon are two hardworking people — she owns the textile and home accessories brand, Jamini Design, and he is a photographer and translator — so they appreciate the buzz and pace of Paris, France. But they also were craving a place in which they could slow down a bit, to balance that busy energy with peaceful moments, and spend quality time together and with Usha’s two daughters, 15-year-old Deeya and 11-year-old Elisa. So when Usha and Claudio found a 100-year-old longère-style home, typical of Normandy, in the countryside a year and a half ago, it felt meant to be.

“We fell in love with the house we eventually bought because it’s on a plateau with stunning valleys surrounding us — we often see deer on our morning runs, and the house itself is simply beautiful,” Usha shares. “When we visited the house for the first time, I fell in love with the exposed beams and the beautiful terracotta tiles from Provence. It really was love at first sight.”

Apart from the aesthetic trance the home cast over the couple, the decision to spend half their time in this country home melded so much together of what makes each Usha and Claudio who they are. “I am Franco Indian and founded the home accessories brand Jamini in Paris. I love textiles and everything that is French vintage. I travel frequently to India for work and try to pick up things for my home. Claudio is Italo American from Connecticut. He loves documentary photography and is a gourmet cook. We are growing organic fruit and vegetables in our 1,500-square-foot garden.”

The home, with its white walls, pitched roofline and raw, exposed beams both informs Usha’s brand and serves as an effortless backdrop to her pieces; a line of accessories that evoke an Indian spirit through a Parisian lens. This same ethos is seen throughout the home: a decidedly restrained decorative approach that marries various textures, echoing similar color themes, and encouraging a melange of pattern play. A wisp of modernity weaves its way through the home through clean lines or Usha’s pared-back decor styling. Rustic materials and laid-back areas for relaxation serve up the French countryside feel, while family photos and bright textiles provide the Indian flair. In essence, this homestead in the Normandy countryside is a living, breathing iteration of Usha’s interpretation of the Indian spirit at play in France, and the result is breathtaking.

But at the end of the day, the design of their home is the icing on the cake of a place where family and togetherness is paramount. “Our home allows us to spend time with people we love,” Usha shares. “Paris is a busy city and apartments are small and friends are not easy to get [a] hold of. Our home in Normandy is the perfect place to invite friends and their kids, go for long walks, cook the most delicious gourmet meals and drink incredible wine until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a blessing to be able to share moments like these and Claudio, the children and I look forward to sharing our space (and our wine cellar!) with friends and family from all over the world.” —Kelli

Photography (except where noted) by Claudio Cambon / @claudiocambon

Image above: The dining room on the ground floor of the home. Usha says, “Our textiles come from India — some are vintage pieces that I have collected over the years and others are pieces from my brand Jamini. We wanted our home to tell a story — and each object has been curated carefully and meaningfully. A lot of our furniture comes from Jodhpur, in India, a city with strong art deco influence. We just love mixing objects from different cultures to create a very special and unique space.”

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The dining room’s wall is painted in “Oval Room Blue” by Farrow & Ball and the room itself is a lovely mix of both French vintage and Indian design and furnishings.

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The blue-green paint is a perfect palette to absorb the dining table and chairs, which are “more than a hundred years old [and] from a monastery, our armoire is a vintage piece from Jodhpur, Rajasthan.”

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The main bedroom, yet another fusion of French and Indian sensibilities. “The pink wall is perfect for showing my antique kantha textile (more than 100 years old), the French brass bed and the vintage porcelain lampshades from Jodhpur,” Usha notes.

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The beautiful exposed beams above and the vintage terracotta tiles below were two captivating features that sold Usha and Claudio on buying this home in the Normandy countryside.

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An old connection led to this stunning wallpaper moment in the main bedroom. Usha tells us that one day, as she was standing outside in Paris a woman approached her and said “Hi!” — Usha then recognized her as Melissa Coat, her daughter Deeya’s longtime babysitter from 15 years ago. “I asked her what she did and she replied that she had become a wallpaper designer! What a coincidence. I mentioned [our] Normandy home project to her and we worked on three designs for the home — that was such a lovely reunion and a way to reconnect after so many years.”

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“We live between Paris and Normandy,” Usha begins. “We love the buzz in Paris and the fabulous museums and restaurants, but we really needed to have a place in the country. We spend half our time in Normandy and we’ve made friends with all the farmers and neighbors around our home. Our closest neighbor is a metal worker and animal lover — he has 40 rabbits, a dozen chickens, sheep, lambs and pheasants. All the children who come to visit absolutely love discovering the latest additions to his animal farm!”

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French furniture pieces round out this living room sitting area that looks out to the garden outside.

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“My favorite memory is the look on my daughters’ faces when we brought them to the house for the first time,” Usha recalls. “Their jaws dropped when they saw the garden with all the fruit trees — cherries, apples, peaches, strawberries and raspberries! They just ran all across and around in complete amazement! The look in their eyes and the pure delight on their faces was just fabulous. I’ll never forget that moment!”

Photo by Julie Ansiau

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In the entryway, a pattern-on-pattern moment — a storage bag from Usha’s line sits in front of a gorgeous wallpaper motif she designed for MUES Design, named after her daughter, Deeya.

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“The terracotta tiles in our home are very old and rare — they come in a special octagonal shape and in a small size that is not made anymore. We realized that we needed to replace a few during the renovation and started looking for these all across Paris, Provence and even Italy. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any. It was very frustrating and I had made the rounds of all the specialized tile stores in Paris hoping to get lucky, but nothing! So I started looking on a specialized website called leboncoin (the French eBay) and found one person in Dijon, Burgundy who’s father had left a box of these in the attic. I was ecstatic and Claudio took a train with a suitcase the following week and came back with a really heavy box of tiles. We were so incredibly lucky to have found these. These are old and beautiful and not available anymore, so they are very precious indeed!”

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The downstairs bathroom features the beautiful and rare terracotta tiles, an iron bath, and more “Oval Room Blue” by Farrow & Ball.

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Usha Bora, sitting in her home amidst her own textile designs.

Portrait by Anne Sophie Nebout for Inside Closet.

I just believe that a big part of the [decorating] thrill is going on a never-ending treasure hunt!

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Upstairs, above the dining room, is the lounge room; “The most beautiful space where we spend time playing games, watching movies or reading.”

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“Decorating a home is not about the end result — it is about the process of discovery, the joy of travel and the surprise element of finding new and unusual things that complete a theme,” Usha says.

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Also upstairs (now above the living room), exposed beams create a unique design moment. “The exposed beams are beautiful and the room looks out into the garden from the front and the back. It’s full of light and has lots of little spaces for interesting objects.”

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Looking into the guest bedroom, this upstairs area is ready for whatever activity or creative pursuit comes along in the peace and quiet of the countryside. Usha shares about her family, “Claudio is a translator and is a frequent traveler to India and the USA. Deeya is [my] older daughter. She is 15, in high school, a budding musician, and aims to be a lawyer. Elisa, 11, is [my] younger daughter and very artistic. She has dreams of running the Jamini brand when she grows up.”

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In this bedroom, Usha and Claudio opted to paint the exposed beams white to create a lofty, airy vibe.

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Looking out from the bedroom, quirky and quaint architectural details carry the eye around.

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From the upstairs lounge, the large garden can be seen from these windows.

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Usha reflects on the design process for the home: “The good thing about the entire process is that Claudio and myself were not stubborn about having our way on each little detail. We both agreed that we wanted a vintage French feel to our house and a very eclectic mix of objects from our travels. We scoured vintage markets in France and Belgium looking for mirrors, lampshades and furniture.”

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In this nook, a perfect combination of Usha and Claudio’s style: French countryside style is found through the rustic beams, and Indian touches shine through the family photos and motifs used in the Jamini accessories. The color palette of the textiles marries the two styles together for harmonious cohesion.

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In this girls’ room upstairs, another wallpaper made in collaboration with MUES Design and a look out into the lounge areas.

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Back downstairs, a dreamy resting spot packed full with pillows from Usha’s own line.

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Outside, a charpoy (Indian day bed) from Jamini Design sits in the garden.

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When Usha is at home in the countryside in Normandy, she feels “Peace and tranquility. I feel a sense of deep contentment. Our home is a space of inclusion. We love having friends and family and it’s important for us to spend time with people we love!”

Photo by Julie Ansiau

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Comments

  • I love this style – Indian textiles are my favorite, but especially when artfully incorporated into a space that mixes other styles!
    Is that an octopus watercolor by Wandering Laur I spy in the first pic?

  • I keep coming back to this one. Okay the house has beautiful bones, lovely furnishings and textiles but it’s the details like the art vignettes – mini gallery walls and the highly original arrangements of fresh flowers in just about every room that complete the magic. Check out the vase on the bedside table – it looks like grass or something you’d grind to make flour for bread – but it looks just right!

  • My favorite home tour on DS. Are the bedspreads also from her shop? I don’t see anything quite like them for sale.

  • I love their use of different fabrics. Their garden is absolutely beautiful, so romantic. Love reading stories behind beautiful homes like these.

  • Dear Grace, just looked at your Instagram story this morning. I’m white, straight, and old (73+), AND I love, love love your design aesthetic, your pups, your kitty fur baby, and envy your veggie garden. Well done, all. and thank you.

    Peggy

  • Great collection of India textile and culture, I loved the collection of images. The garden picture is amazing, it makes everyone want to have a home like this. Thank you for sharing.

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