We probably should have just looked the other way, but we are Huffingtons, and “we” like a project! So when a choice piece of buildable land came up for sale in the highly coveted and very restricted area of Gordes, Provence, one of us couldn’t resist a chance to build a dream house – and bought it.
Buildable land is very scarce in this part of Provence, where the locals are trying to preserve the historic significance of the area and zoning is prohibitively strict. In fact, there is currently a moratorium on the sale of any buildable land until mid next year. So to find a parcel that could be subdivided into two parts (the idea being that you build on one and sell the other), in a coveted area, close to everything, yet quietly perched above a tiny country road with nothing to ever obscure the view, was an offer too exciting to pass up. And so the dream progressed …
We assembled a talented architectural team, and, like with any project, began collecting our inspiration boards – so that our team could turn the dream into a reality. In Gordes, the building codes are very strict, so we knew we had to use stacked stone for the outside but we begged our architect to add some features that might differentiate and add interest, like bigger windows, higher ceilings and touches of wrought iron.
The landscaping, as always, presented the biggest challenge, but we knew from the types of grasses that proliferated on the land that the soil was rich enough to accommodate a variety. I asked for small niches and courtyards, because although I love a view, I also like a little nook that is inviting and cozy. And I didn’t need to look any further for the pool inspiration than a wonderful house designed by Bobby McAlpine in California and featured in Architectural Digest.
For the interior of the house, we asked for a clean and simple design, with an open floorplan kitchen, high beamed ceilings, pretty stone floors and wrought iron windows. Because the view is the star, I asked for a small entry that led straight through to the great room with the view beyond. And I was very picky about the staircase once I saw the fabulous picture below.
We worked on this project for almost a year, back and forth with the architects and the town of Gordes. We finally agreed on the plans, submitted them to the authorities, performed all the soil and irrigations tests, waited for the coveted building permits to be granted, paid the requisite tax for building new property on land in France … and once everything was signed, sealed and delivered, decided not to build!
In the end, I discovered, the design process proved to be much more fulfilling than the building. It’s what we Huffingtons love to do. So, thankfully for my pocketbook and with no regrets for the process, I’ve put the land on the market and will be available to help someone, some time, build their dream house in Provence. And meanwhile, there’s another little project lurking in Paris that we can’t wait to tell you about!
P.S. If you are interested in building this house or something similar, we do have all the plans and the land, and will be happy to put you in touch with the right authorities to make it happen. Merry Christmas!