David Price’s family home is a culmination of nearly 30 years of experience in designing dream residences for an international clientele across the south of France. LYNN TAN discovers how the owner-founder of DavidPriceDesign taps on his expertise to transform this dilapidated Provence property into a new home for his family.
A view from the pool at the southwestern tip of the property.
The inner courtyard is a great place for entertaining.
Nearly three decades of creating dream homes for wealthy clients has honed David Price’s ability to spot a great plot, identify the restoration works required and realise his vision with the right materials, tradespeople and suppliers. And what better opportunity for all to come together than for his family home.
David found the perfect property for himself, his wife Anne, and their two daughters in an area of Provence set in the stunning Alpilles region, also known as “Little Alps”. The natural site, north-west of Bouches-du-Rhone, is characterised by a chain of small limestone mountains with a panorama that stretches from Mont Ventoux to the Cevennes, and from the Sainte-Victoire Mountain to the Camargue.
Originally built in the 1970s by a local farmer to serve as an outbuilding for his herd of goats, subsequent additions resulted in the small residential dwelling that caught David’s eye. “The property was formed in a long U shape with living areas at the northern end of the U, and open at the southern end,” David explains. “The inner courtyard was flanked by stables and other accommodation, including a gite d’etape or lodge for guests arriving on horseback.”
The property now also serves as David Price Design’s office for the team based in Provence. David dedicated the east wing for this purpose. New east-facing French windows ensure that the privacy of the residential sections are not compromised, and a dedicated car park with a separate access maintains a clear zoning distinction between home and office.
The west wing was converted into the living room, kitchen, back kitchen and formal dining room, and a new covered terrace that runs almost the entire length of the living spaces and wraps around the southern end of the property.
The seamless transition between indoor and outdoors makes the covered terrace ideal for enjoying the many months of good weather in the region. It’s complemented by easy access to the new pool, that’s designed according to his daughters’ specifications.
A vertical louver system addresses the west-facing issue of the afternoon sun. “It allows us to create light and shade where we want it, but also to protect ourselves from the sun. When the heat is less intense, it opens up sections of the terrace,” David elaborates. The remaining shorter north face of the property houses a TV room, laundry and storage areas, and four bedrooms and bathrooms.
David went about the restoration with an acute sensitivity to context and humble respect for the history of the property.
New works used concrete blocks, with a concrete or lime render finish and additional stone cladding as highlights, such as for the chimney stacks. The construction methods employed are typical of the locale and helped integrate the new and the old.
One of the fundamental requirements for the interior re-design was that it let in as much light as possible and maintained a constant connection with the picturesque surroundings. “The narrow footprint of the house works very well for this, with large-scale and even full-height glazing in many sections,” David points out.
Laid-back simplicity was also key. All the walls are white, beams are exposed, and – except for the master bedroom – the flooring is in cooling stone. “These plain surfaces form the perfect backdrop for strong and simple furnishings.”
The property is surrounded by olive groves.
David’s favourite reading spot is the terrace that wraps around the southern end of the west wing.
A sliding louver system is a buffer against the sun during the hottest times of the year.
The kitchen has a bespoke oak table with vintage chairs and repainted, off-the-shelf pendant lights.
The pool with green mosaic tiles has a Luberon stone surround.
The terrace, with a red cedarwood ceiling, is wonderful for semioutdoor meals when it gets cooler.
This bedroom features a La Redoute buttoned bedhead and watercolour paintings by a Zimbabwean artist. A Mis en Demeure footstool upholstered in a Colefax and Fowler fabric brings up the rear of the bed.
A display of the family’s collection of beaded animals on an armoire in the dining room.
The property is set against the Chaine des Alpilles, a small range of low mountains in Provence.
The courtyard is even more intimate at night.
photos HERVE HOTE