This is one of the most lovingly restored properties we have ever seen – it’s a barn conversion that has been created by a master! Located in a tiny hamlet, snuggled in the foothills above the Cathar Castle of Puivert, we both think that it is utter perfection… and we don’t say that lightly – either of us. The owner was a furniture builder when he and his wife lived in England – and his love affair with wood clearly continues – he is also a perfectionist…. The result is stunning… doors, fitments – even the stairs – have been hand made… and he and his gracious wife have created a most magical home….
We drove up the little winding lane, with woods on either side of us (great for mushrooming in Autumn – ideally after a rain storm) the views getting better and better as we approached the hamlet… there is a large parking area to the front of the property, easily spacious enough for four or five cars, accessed by the tiny lane that runs only to the last house in the hamlet higher up. You enter by imposing double doors, especially designed – and handmade – ( naturally! ) – to fit the original broad, arched barn entrance – above the doors are glassed, made to measure, windows to fill in the arch and bring extra light to the interior. The 90 sq metre ground floor is almost open plan – with areas carefully thought out for relaxing, dining, letter writing, whatever you want… One of the design features that we both adored is the kitchen… a single step down from the main living area – but separated by a generous bar top… and looking out over the gardens beyond. Fully fitted, it’s a perfect “Cooks ” kitchen – bags of space and work surfaces, yet designed so that the cook can still be part of a conversation … so clever too – the step down and the height of the bar top mean that the inevitable plates, saucepans and so on, are hidden from the view of people in the main living area – brilliant!
Every detail has been considered and well planned. There is a large closet on the opposite side of the kitchen flank wall which helps frame a reading area with double French windows that lead out onto the garden and terrace space. Opposite the closet wall is a “full” bathroom with a gorgeous claw footed, roll top bath, a shower, and a one metre hand basin plus toilet … every detail in this property is top quality, generous and beautifully finished. The generous dining room features a long wall of exposed original stone and exposed ceiling beams. The central living area is spacious and light filled, with room enough for several comfortable sofas and chairs arranged around a state of the art HUNTER woodburning stove which also runs the central heating radiators – we asked if it could run hot water too if required, and the answer was “Yes” …. This make of stove is of the highest quality – beautiful to look at and to live with – it has the huge benefit of being extremely cost effective – efficient, ecologically sound, dry heat – it is the traditional heating source in the region and the price per cubic metre of wood reflects this.
The stairs … glowing wood, handmade, gentle steps curving up along the old stones of the barn wall … painstakingly, lovingly, re-mortared with lime plaster, throwing back the glow of the wood… detailed newel posts… it’s all perfect… The upstairs landing glows as light floods across the beautiful wood floors. So lovely, in fact, that the owners have conveniently tucked an armchair in front of the window for sneaking a quick read when one should be doing something else entirely! There are three bedrooms and a full bathroom on this level – all with the original stone walls of the barn exposed and lovingly restored. The highlight at this level… the “WOW” factor …. is a hidden terrace area – which two of the bedrooms lead on to… sheltered… with a view of the countryside – wooded – which, in Autumn, rivals New England for tree colour. Jennifer, who has lived in New Hampshire, swears their colours are a fraction brighter…. but I suspect bias! … The view is gorgeous, from the fresh washed greens of Spring to the Autumnal golds and reds… framed by the way the terrace wall dips to catch the best of it … everything has been thought of to make living here a total pleasure.
As you approach the house, the property begins at a triangular piece of land (that could be further developed), before the parking area, with steps leading down to a small orchard … the top end marked by an old stone wall. The steps are swathed in blackberries and the wall with moss, there are daffodils between the old trees – fig trees line the access… “road” … “lane” … we couldn’t decide which… it has a finished surface – but feels as though it has been there for ever…. In Spring, Summer and Autumn the terrace area has tables, chairs, possibly the barbeque if eating with the seriously nice neighbours, who if grazing land was needed, would possibly be able to help! (seriously nice people) … Spilling over with flowers, it leads to the gardens to the rear of the property… mature trees… and three additional terraces are waiting for the owners’ son to come with his digger and push the huge rocks into position…. which, now that Spring is arriving, will be soon.
You will probably have realized that the owners are personal friends…. they are ….and we have spent a lot of very happy times in their wonderful home. They’ve decided to stay here but to downsize a bit …. otherwise this glorious property wouldn’t be for sale….. this is a real “one off “… we hope that the new owners will become friends too …. we would be sad to lose the possibility to “pop in” for a cup of coffee when in, or near, Puivert. If you feel that you could be the next person to live here, we wish you well …. and we’ll bring the coffee ….
DPE non renseigne