Graceful living in Italy and France...

The smell of jasmine winds its way down our 16th century cobblestone street in Umbria as I step outside to greet the day.












Monday, March 29, 2010

Some structural considerations

Follow Ginny and her remodeling friends as they work their magic on Le Muguet, a shared ownership home in southern France....


Email to Ginny- February 2010

"In order to proceed with decor, some structural work will first have to be planned and executed by (at a minimum) a carpenter, perhaps a stone mason, and a plumber. We know you have made an arrangement for an English carpenter to do some work in April but we do not know if this man is a 'handyman' enough to do all of the work. We will be defining both a suggested list of 'structural' projects as well as a specific approach for our 'decor' work.

While we can proceed with some of our work simulaneously, it would be ideal if much of the structural work has been completed before we commence.   Therefore, decisions regarding such things as the kitchen wall, our proposed changes in the upstairs bathroom, relocating the washer, etc., must be made somewhat quickly.

One idea we have is that, upon our return to Vers Pont du Gard, Francesco (with his excellent French, and the fact that he is a French citizen) might be able to poll some local residents (ie. the gang of petanque players and the men who frequent the little bar) to discover the names of village residents who do this kind of work and to scour up someone reliable to do some of the projects. We think anyone tempted to overcharge a 'foreigner' might rethink the idea when faced by a native speaker and fellow Frenchman."

Friday, March 26, 2010

We wish to be sensitive to the medieval/renaissance fabric of the house itself and let the plethora of wonderful architectural details shine in their own right where they can.

I began to get seriously excited by the obvious talent which Dan & Francesco were sharing with me long distance. While my "eye" for irresistible homes abroad is pretty finely tuned, I'm the first to admit that adding "eye candy" to my fractionals is best done by visionaries like D & F.

For example in an emailed dated February 26th -

"As we discussed the other night (and I believe agreed) our idea is to try to create an authentic French country interior that conveys feelings of warmth and coziness without the idea that a 'pro' decorator has just come and gone.

Just for your interest, we both 'saw' the use of some bright yellow and red fabrics and paint to accent the stone work in the living room, while the master bedroom seemed to 'want' a more subtle scheme of pale blue and gold. For the upstairs garden bedroom- our 'oiseaux' scheme in blue & white toile de jouy.

We are aware that items in the house must be hardy enough to withstand wear & tear, be easy to rapidly clean, and adapt to multiple users. (Good solid pieces are 'in', rickety and wobbly old antiques are 'out'!)      

We wish to be sensitive to the medieval/renaissance fabric of the house itself and let the plethora of wonderful architectural details shine in their own right where they can.

In that regard, we are suggesting selling off much of the current furnishings (recouping some money from them to use for replacements). We will also adapt and use whatever items in the current inventory we deem useful. We will be providing an exact list of both categories - sell or save - in a future email."



Next:   In order to proceed with decor, some structural work will first have to be planned.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Arcadio, Dan and Francesco visit le Muguet

Jan 5th, 2010


Safely home following my December Todi trip, the emails (and Skype calls) between NY and Italy began. Yes! Dan and Francesco were willing and able to take charge of the remodel/decor work at le Muguet. As  I began to outline what might need to be done, an associated budget and time frame, my ideas and photos were shared with them.

"Hi Ginny- we are getting a good image of the place and I think you are "spot on" about moving the washer and opening up the kitchen wall. Most of the furnishings are fairly dingy to be sure! But the spaces are great and I think F&I can indeed, work some magic with basic paintings here and there. We remain excited about the project."

So, Dan, Francesco and Arcadia made plans to do an initial visit on February 19th, driving two long six- hour days, from Todi to Vers and back. Once there, they would take stock, make a list of priorities, and go hunting for bargains. In the meantime, my work began to try to find a local mason and carpenter for the proposed structural changes.


2/24 After trip to le Muguet-

"We just got back in Todi a few hours ago - safe trip, nice weather, cat loved it too... We are brimming with ideas. Made a good floor plan with exact measurements, inventory of what's there (items to be kept
and those we suspect are better off sold), and we had time to revisit some of our antique & outlets in the area to check on what's available.

I plan to spend the day organizing my thoughts to make a step by step plan as best I can. It is a lovely property and lovely village too. We have a few ideas to bounce off you - soon, soon."


Stay tuned for: "Our idea is to try and create an authentic French country interior that conveys feelings of warmth and cosiness without the idea that a 'pro' decorator has just come and gone"...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It all began in Todi, Italy

It all began in Todi, Italy this past December. My friend and I were shopping for a new fractional ownership property in Italy and coming up seriously short-handed. As we sat in a marvelous enoteka (a petite wine-tasting bar/bistro)in Todi, Umbria, the owner Christina joined us for a spell. Our talk turned to finding a "to die for" affordable place to buy and Christina thought for a minute and said "Signore Bianchini,my landlord, might know of a place."  

Half an hour later, a slender debonair Italian arrived and greeted us in French (thank goodness as my Italian is pitiful). "Well, yes, I might have a place to sell (the apartment upstairs ) but I'm not really sure I want to part with it. Why don't you take a look at my son Francesco's place? It is a bit more expensive but they are really dying to sell it." Well aware that this "bit more expensive" was about 50% more than we could afford, nonetheless, we couldn't resist this adventure.

Suffice it to say that we were BLOWN AWAY by how stunning Palazzo Berti-Marini is! See for yourself: www.frenchpropertyshares.com and click on Todi, Italy. Our pursuit of a higher-end quarter share fractional in Todi is now well under way with 2 parties heading there to view her.

Now, on to the fun part- My eyes fairly popping out of their sockets at the richness of the decor at Dan and Francesco's 240m2 palazzo, I learned that when they did sell, their plans were to buy a place in Paris. It turns out that Francesco's roots are French/Italian and he teaches French at the University in Todi. Meanwhile, my wheels are turning and I casually mention the following- "Would either of you be interested in living in my new home near Uzes in order to help with the remodeling and decor?" Dan immediately and enthusiastically indicated "yes" with Francesco seconding their interest in this idea.

Do you see how serendipitous this circle of life can be?


Tomorrow - Arcadio (fearless feline ),Dan,and Francesco visit le Muguet

Monday, March 22, 2010

Follow Ginny and her remodeling friends as they work their magic on Le Muguet, a shared ownership home in southern France.

Dressing up the home of my dreams in S. France

January 2010

It was bound to happen- finding the 'almost perfect' property to buy near Uzes, France and deciding to "go for it!" despite my well-based reservations about finishing off a 90% picture perfect job. But I digress- let me go back to the beginning.

My job is to find and market affordable irresistable vacation home shares to folks who adore France but choose not to jump through the hoops to purchase a whole house single-handedly. For some, they prefer not to buy a place and then manage and rent it out. For others, the idea that someone else (aka moi!) can do all the legwork and theythen avoid the hassles and pitfalls, is very appealing.

In 1998, we found a 95% move-in ready farmhouse in the Dordogne/Lot area and happily furnished it as we could- in bit's and pieces while it evolved into a magnificient shared property. We found some funny things along the way- such as English wiring in a French home shared by mostly Americans! Who'd a thunk it?

By 2005, I tackled my first BIG remodel job in the Corbiere hills of Southern Aude. What an eye opener! A mammoth task which kept me away from my children for not one month ( as projected ) but THREE. I determined then and there that my pied a terre's needed to be walk-in perfect if at all possible.

And there's the catch- One of my idioms about buying the home of your dreams in France is "If you're looking for the perfect house in the perfect community at the perfect price, ya may be looking for a long while!" Yet, here I was, in January 2010, pretty darn sure that le Muguet was the home of my dreams- I just needed to dress her up!