Normally we add a little ditty about the post we are diving into, but you know what? Shauntelle of Sposto Photography has such a good intro to this gorgeous home she captured (and I mean G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S), I'll let her take it away...
San Diego, California, may not be the first locale that comes to mind when thinking Provençal-style architecture, but that wasn’t a deterrent for Dani Blasena, owner and creative director of HauteFêtes Fine Weddings & Events. One peek at the cornflower-blue doors, weather-worn shutters, slate roof, and nuanced stonework of the French farmhouse-inspired home they share with their four children, 6 chickens, 2 horses and goldendoodle, Milo, and you’ll swear you’ve been transported to the lush, rolling hills of Provence—minus the jet lag.
From Dani Blasena… Being from England and raised all over the world, I’ve always been drawn to things that have history and patina. The romance of Europe has had a huge design influence on me, not just in my life and the way I entertain, but in my work in wedding design, too.
I approach home design in the same way I do weddings and events. I believe that spaces should reflect the people that live in them. Rooms and homes should tell a story. Just like my brides and grooms have a rich history and stories to share that are fascinating, so too is a home that has something to say. For our home, we wanted something that felt soulful. Even though it was a complete renovation, we wanted the house to feel like it wasn’t new and that it conjured up a place far away.
Accordingly, we focused on incorporating things that were reclaimed. We designed around my collections of vintage light fixtures, old mirrors, French market baskets and antique doors which came from garage and estate sales, antique shops, salvage yards and flea markets. Our collections each tell a story. For instance, the white enamel lamps in the kitchen were salvaged from the Anaheim Gymnasium – the first electrified public building in Southern California – which collapsed in the 1923 earth quake.
We gave them a new life and this meant the house had history before we had even lived in it. I also appreciate simple but meaningful details like the open shelves in the kitchen and pantry which are the original construction planks the stucco contractors used to stand on. I love that the planks tell a story of the many people who helped renovate our home.
In decorating our home, we wanted it to feel lived in and impart a warm, inviting feel. Even though we’ve collected lots of antiques, we also have four teenagers and twenty-somethings, as well as a rambunctious two-year old pup. Nothing is too precious that we can’t sit on it, put flowers in it or spill wine. Life happens in the home and it isn’t always perfect and pretty! That’s what makes it real.
Balancing color was really important to us. We wanted our indoors to meld seamlessly with the outside. We picked a palette that was appropriately Provençal, a neutral base onto which we layered the region’s ubiquitous blue color, as well as loads of texture and then filled it with our treasures. Each room in the house has its own color story, but because we started with a neutral color palette, there’s a lot of cohesion between the spaces.
Design elements like the European white oak floors, Carrara marble, un-lacquered brass fixtures and shades of the same Farrow & Ball taupey-grey paint that we used throughout the entire home, create a subtle flow.
Similarly, we approached our garden with the same design philosophy in mind, picking two or three colors that we’d repeat throughout the garden so the eye continues to move but never gets tired. I love all the lavender, the white iceberg and pale pink David Austin roses which work beautifully with the citrus and olive trees.
Our home wasn’t always like this though. When we first saw it just two years ago, it hadn’t been lived in for years – it was a real fixer upper! The looks on our realtor and contractor’s faces were priceless. But, we fell in love with it anyway, and especially the way the driveway curved around the property and opened up to reveal the façade of the house through the trees.
I just knew that every day would feel like a vacation and a place where beautiful memories – from weddings to birthdays to graduations – could all be celebrated. And, that’s where I got the name for our home, ‘Bastide de Bonheur’: bonheur meaning ‘happiness’ and bon heur meaning ‘good times’. It’s both and more to us.
My advice on decorating: take your time and have patience. Check in with your favorite stores regularly; look at items with an objective eye – does the piece have good bones and would new fabric or a new coat of paint make it a dream piece?; and, buy only the things you absolutely love, because that way you’ll never get bored with them and they’ll never go out of style. Then, once you find that one piece you absolutely love like a painting or a great pillow or rug, create your room around it. Don’t be afraid to add quirky touches, too – I love my two fat stone pigs that sit on the buffet in our family room – which allow your true personality to shine through. That’s when a house really becomes a home.