Renovating a rural home in France

The main bedroom is calm and intimate. With low ceilings and panelling, there is little to distract from slumber bar a large painting Inset: The white-tiled kitchen has a clinical feel – utilitarian, practical and low- maintenance

Author Josephine Ryan explores a renovated rural home and finds plenty of inspiration for antique buys

La Fabrique is set deep in the French countryside in a lush, green valley, with a fast-flowing river running alongside. From the outside, the building looms up, large and imposing, giving no indication of the chic and whimsical family home inside.

La Fabrique is enormous. The home (and antiques business) of Bernard and Maxime Cassagnes was originally a paper mill, hence its size. Bernard, a trained architect, bought the 1890s mill in its original state and moved there in 1981; Max, his bohemian wife, joined him in 1985. Using his architectural skills and unerring eye, Bernard has created a truly remarkable and unusual home.

Famous in the trade as Le Baron, a term of affection given to him by his fellow architecture students, Bernard runs his antiques business from the mill. His speciality is art forain – fairground art – and there are plenty of examples in the shop, as well as in the living space, but he deals in all ...

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