The bright open spaces you see at La Grange and La Maison French Holiday Cottages are a major transformation from their utilitarian roots. A wine making barn and worker apartments, the property was in a state of disuse when we discovered it during a house search in 2016. A bit neglected, the houses were structurally amazing. Built to last, the 60cm (24in) thick stacked-stone walls and tree-sized ceiling beams had potential.
As for being sure the houses were structurally sound, when we asked the renovation contractor when we would need to worry about replacing the tile roof, he answered, “Surely you will be dead before that roof needs to be replaced.”
Explore the transformations of each property and the two year journey from potential to reality.
La Maison was a curious little property when we saw it in 2016. Built in the late 1700s, it was a one bedroom house with an attic… or so we thought. When we signed the papers with the family who had owned it since 1943, we learned their parents had been vineyard workers. The family of six had all lived on the first floor of the one-bedroom home. After all, there were no stairs to the upper level from inside the house, and while the main floor of the house had been renovated during the mid 1900s, the “attic” was in the raw stone and wood condition it had been when it was built in the 1700s.
We later purchased a tiny little cottage that was built onto the side of La Maison at some point over the years. The two properties shared an external stone staircase that we called, "the staircase to nowhere" as it led only to a window and attic.
Once we began demolition, we were finally able to figure out that the "staircase to nowhere" had likely been the access to separate apartments, with the two cottages providing four separate one-room apartments at a time when parents and children lived together in a single room.
The cottages have now been joined (after digging through the 60cm thick walls), and have emerged into a bright, open-floor plan 3 bedroom, 3 bath rental home.
On walking into the open space of the barn, we fell in love. (Or at least I did and then I convinced my husband to fall in love along with me.) As Americans, we adore French charm, but wanted bright, open spaces, which are hard to find in villages like this where generations before ours have expanded their homes by adding bits and pieces on to ancient cottages. With the barn, we could see a path to soaring ceilings, bright light, and open-concept living spaces.
Surrounded on three sides by other buildings, we had to get creative to bring in light. The roof windows and open loft-style concept enabled us to stream light from the upper level into the lower level.
Upstairs, we created one expansive bedroom that highlights the soaring barn ceiling beams and stone walls.
A wonderful surprise, we were able to add a raised seating platform that reveals views over the roofs of the village to the famous Meursault vineyards.
La Grange is now a private residence an is no longer available for rent.