The Mediterranean has long inspired artists with its seascapes and picturesque homes with red-tiled roofs.
This year, we are renovating our fisherman’s cabin in the South of France, soI have been paying particular attention to the styles of homes here and what makes them so charming.
‘Volets’ (colorful heavy wooden shutters) add to the charm of the homes here. Our cabin also has an arched doorway that is typical of Mediterranean homes. Most doors and windows have Volets in France with a variety of colors, although typically the shutters will be in the blue and lavender tones in the South… Ours will be re-painted Mediterranean blue (more about Mediterranean blue in my next blog!).
Gnarled olive trees add to the charm. Large French windows generally face the ocean or pool, away from the heavy mistral winds and rain. Our roof, like many roofs in the South, is gable style with red hollow clay tiles and overhangs to create a cool, shaded outdoor living area. The roof will be replaced with the same barrel clay tile (terre cuite) but all the same color. A popular style here is to use a variation of tile colors to create a patchwork effect that looks immediately antique.
Most coastal homes here are designed with very thick walls, made of cinder blocks covered with layers of ‘Chaux’ (water-based lime plaster) in various colors. My husband tells me there is a big difference between chaux and stucco, but I’m not clear on this! Anyhow what I know is chaux plaster withstands the winds and stays cool in the heat. The artisanal chaux restoration process begins with the old layer of plaster coming off. Then a new layer of plaster made of sand is applied with a trowel.
Chaux looks like fine cement at this point. After this layer dries in a month or so, a layer of fine water-based lime plaster will be applied by hand. This same technique is used in Greece, and the white plaster is so bright, it has a light blue hue. There are so many beautiful earth-toned pigments to choose from when doing the lime-plaster finish. We finally selected a natural off-white color to match the stones used in the foundation of the home as well as the terrace.
Stone walkways and climbing plants add to the charm here…
Red clay bricks, painted wooden shutters and earth-tone pigmented plaster exteriors define the Mediterranean style.
I am always inspired to paint the colors in the South of France; more about color schemes in the Côte d’Azur my next blog…