This week's Knock Knock we are lucky to have Merrick and Alice Angle show us around there charming French home. Merrick is a designer and film-maker and Alice is an estate agent with an office in Treignac. They have two children, Flora and Clementine, born in France where they have lived since 2003, and a rescue cat & dog, Squiggle & Margot.
We moved to the Treignac, a village in the Correze department of France in 2017 Our main reason for moving is that Alice has worked here as an estate agent for 10 years and we'd come to know and love the village, especially its beautiful lake.
Our house is an old Protestant church dating from the 19th century, known locally as ‘Le Temple’. It was deconsecrated and converted into a residence in the 1950s by a local architect. After being sold in the 1970s it had fallen into serious disrepair. We first visited The Temple three years previously. We were veteran renovators at this point, but even we were taken aback by the amount of work needed. Alice muttered the immortal line “This house has divorce written all over it”. That said, we ended up buying the place, even though our children cried tears of horror when we showed them round for the first time!
We went into this house with our eyes wide open. Luckily we found out we could rent the house next door for nine months while we cracked on with the work. Literally, everything bar the roof needed doing. Windows, doors, central heating, you name it. It’s hard now to stress how disgusting it was - like a set for a horror film. Even the garden had been used as a rubbish dump and was 10 foot deep in brambles.
But through a combination of hard work, bullying of tradesmen, and foolhardiness we ended up with a great home. Light, airy, practical to live in - yet full of idiosyncratic features like the arched windows and pulpit. It feels unique.
Our biggest expense in our renovation was changing all 23 windows in the house, they needed to be made in wood and all made to measure and painted in the correct colour as we are in a heritage protection area. We love the way the arched windows turned out. The stained glass panel was made by Merrick's talented cousin, Zoe Angle at Angle Glass.
Our room has a balcony overlooking the garden, we use this vintage screen for privacy as neither of us are fans of curtains. The tapestry stool was made in the 1950s by the previous owner of our old house. The wool blanket is from Sally Hampson, a gift from Alice's sister and so cosy on winter nights.
We have a little garden flat for guests with a small kitchen and it was the perfect place for our much loved 1950s dresser that used to live in our old house. Merrick mixes a lot of his own paint colours. We also use this room for arts and crafts, the old sign, found in a vide grenier, is to warn the kids not to leave too much of a mess!
We wanted something different, but hard-wearing for our worksurfaces so we used zinc, which is traditional for French bars. Merrick made the counters by wrapping roofing zinc around worktops and sanded the zinc to produce a lovely patina. It's hard-wearing and can be sanded back whenever it gets marked. We have a lot of locally found vide grenier and junkshop bibelots around the house, but the little jug with the boat came from a lovely quirky bed and breakfast with its own antique shop in Northumberland called Alnwick Lodge - heaven for us!
We love baths and this alcove is directly opposite the bath so we try to keep it full of interesting items. The two jugs came from vide greniers, we bought the lovely plain one filled with dried hydrangeas from an old lady who remembered it belonging to her great grandmother who always had it on her kitchen table. The print was a gift from Merrick's brother who found it in the London market and the paintings above the bath are by Merrick's mother, Hilary Angle, making it a real family affair. A lockdown lifesaver has been a hot bath with Olverum oil, so relaxing and makes the whole house smell wonderful.
Our big white marble table came from a beautiful chateau that Alice sold. It's so heavy it took 6 people to carry it in. It reflects a lot of light and is perfect for working and family meals. The print is an original poster from a light opera that Merrick found in a vide grenier for Alice's 40th birthday.
The front door is now an interior door leading from our garden room, we painted it in a dark grey-green which Merrick mixed especially to complement the Italian tiles. We had many arguments about what tiles to use and were actually sitting in the tile shop about to order some terracotta tiles when these caught my eye peeking out from the bottom of a display. The vintage flower plaque is from a market on the Ile de Re where we go every summer.
Our main kitchen was originally a very poky and unpleasant room, but we quickly decided to knock the wall down into the living area, even though we both hate open-plan kitchens and Merrick has a phobia of breakfast bars. We have to refer to this arrangement as a "counter". Actually, it's all worked out well and makes for a very light and convivial area. we are converted to open plan. We wanted to keep the area fairly neutral to allow for more colour in the living area: we used Merrick's homemade zinc worktops, and zellige tiling, which is hand made in Fez and imported into France, in a grey/white around the windows and splashback. The cupboards are painted a sage green, and we stained the oak floors a darker colour with brou de noix (a walnut stain).
Our living room isn't huge, but we needed enough space for all four of us (plus dog and cat) to relax. We found this yellow leather sofa second hand and it's been a big success. Leather is so good for ease of care with kids and pets but they can be boring- not this one though. The other sofa is Designer's Guild and incredibly comfortable. The 1950s coffee table was found in an auction by Alice's mother.
Huge Thank You To Merrick & Alice!