seems like a dream

getting a call to decorate a client’s house in the south of france was truly a dream come true. it whizzing by undocumented (we had no internet and i only took a few pics),  makes it seem surreal. but having no technology (no tv either) was a great way for us to get to know each other and become completely immersed in the project, work hard and get it done.  this was ‘my‘ room and waking up to the mountains and mediterranean sea was sheer bliss!

but real it was! i finally had the energy to go thru the shots put a little recap together now that i’m back at home.

truth is started in the states with the prep (liz prepped me, my bff and personal stylist, putting together a grown up-Garanimals packing system that took getting dressed out of the equation so we could focus our 6 days fully on finding furniture). we studied websites, brocante listings and books like exploring the flea markets of france by sandy price. we put together an itinerary so we’d have two or 3 options of markets and/or regions to visit each day along the coast.

arriving at the apartment in the early afternoon was perfect. we took measurements and hit the road. the only thing in it was a table and chairs left by the previous owners that we decided to donate.

not having much time to sight see i just held my camera out the car window and snapped random shots. it’s only looking at them now that i really notice the details.

nice is a port city with an old and new quarter. but whatever the district, the underlying theme is vibrant color and creating an space to enjoy at the sea.

the balconies, windows and shutters were all so beautiful, vibrant and well used.

intertwined with the new was the old…and the ancient! it was inconceivable how many stones and bricks were stacked on top of the other for thousands of years by this group then that before finally becoming the cote d’azur as it’s known today.

looking thru the pics and zooming in showed some closeups of the lifestyle of the locals.

casual, minimal, very french, doing a lot with not a lot of space.

with italian influences everywhere (they were the last ones to have it before france).

our first stop was right in the heart of town, the puces de nice, a fantastic resource that’s open everyday.

i immediately started getting a feel for the region, it’s such different furniture than you’d want in paris.

in fact anything that was even a little gilded looked uber gaudy and overdone. it was all about simplicity, still keeping with french furniture styles and silhouettes.

we scoured this little market and its alleys and chose these chairs in the first hour. they set the tone and we knew  that if we both loved something it was probably right.

we found some linen and had the chairs dropped off at the dealer’s cousin’s upholstery shop down the rue. after the puces, we explored the nice proper which is just around the corner. nice is known for having 100 antique stores scattered throughout a maze of streets, in alleys, garages and along old aquaducts. we grabbed a local map and hit the roads one by one.

some were high end, others  were not too chi chi and we talked with dealers who led us to their warehouses and basements.

everyone was easy to work with and delivered the furniture either the same day or the next. we found a chic black lacquer chest that went perfectly in the master bedroom.

(at the shop)

(at the apartment)

last but not least, it was here we found a harvest table she could use as a work space and dining table.

after the delivery the next morning,  we hit the road toward antibes.

along the way we found an antiques collective that had great, affordable stuff indoors and out. one dealer had a lot of what we liked and we started to imagine it all coming together.

we were kind of sticking with neutrals but both really liked this red chest to hold the printer and act as a sort of tech headquarters.

we ended up with the above chinoiserie desk, the cocktail table, small chairs and little chest. (he threw in the little silver lamp on the left with the perfect linen shade).

the little chest was too small between the beds in the guest room so we created a nook outside the master and found an early bamboo mirror to go above it.

there were a couple brocantes going  in antibes that day and even though we got there late there was still plenty to be found.

we fell love with a vitrine for the kitchen painted in we affectionately call ‘grayish greenish blue’.

(back row)

we found a ton of dishes for just a few euros. we didn’t mind they weren’t washed and took them home, basket and all!

the dishwasher was broken and we washed them 3x by hand before they were clean.

(le cusine)

at the same market we these found two black wood folding chairs for the balcony (below) and a little marble top cafe table. from then on we ate every meal outside.

we also picked up the little wooden vanity peeking out behind the chairs for the guest room. everyone bent over backwards to find keys to fit the locks and even fitted them with little tassels for us.

we had picked up these chairs for the balcony in the early morning and found linen to make cushions. once they got to the house though, we ended up loving them in the bay window in what we lovingly called the party area.

even with everything the place still looked bare! luckily there’s a sofa, large vitrine and headboards on the way as well as the rug, artwork and more mirrors to reflect the sea. maybe one day i’ll see it all put together!

in the meantime, the next day was another brocante out by st. tropez in grimaud. it was a pretty market in the woods.

we found mirrors, (the standing hall mirror that was once an armoire door), pottery and linens.

the last day came way too quick. our final market was back in nice and we could finally put some finishing touches in place.

not sure how many days we shopped but by the last day we were ready for some details, knowing most of the big stuff was done. we picked up some books and this little statue and stated creating vignettes.

next time i’ll be sure to shoot it all, true beginning, middle and end. for now i hope you enjoyed this little jaunt and i’ll hopefully get more pics as this place develops!

for now i have sweet memories, made a dear friend and have a new place that i can obsess over! it got dark real quick over here so if i’m going to have anything left of this saturday night i best jet! have a great weekend darling friends!

July 1, 2012. Brocantes, Côte d'Azur, flea markets, France, Nice.


  1. Rhonda replied:

    Claudia, you made my weekend…this is the most incredible post!! I lingered over every single image….then this last image…sigh…a dream view to say the least. You do have a dream of a job….sweet!!


  2. A Gift Wrapped Life replied:

    What a great post to scroll though Claudia! Heard you had lots of fun and I am heading to provence in september after a couple weeks in Paris. Must admit……….I am a bit fearful of these markets (but can get over that quick enough). Happy weekend. XO


  3. Teresa@ Splendid Sass replied:

    Thanks for the tour. I must admit I was wrapped up in every image.You really picked up some great pieces.
    Have a great weekend.


  4. Rob and Tonya replied:

    Can’t wait to see more of this project as it continues.


  5. Jan Dolphin replied:

    What a great way to incorporate the “thrill of the hunt” with not only a design job, but to be able to see the end result taking place day by day
    as you make your way through the many fabulous markets finding the perfect pieces of the puzzle – and then to have the opportunity to see many of them set in place in the beautiful home by the sea – it will be fun to see the finished masterpiece!! This is a job every designer prays for – Good job!!


  6. Linda replied:

    What a wonderful trip! Thanks for letting me come along. I love your view!


  7. Paris Rendez-vous replied:

    It all looks divine…and I like it a little bare…that way, you can concentrate on the sky and sea. Fab post Claudia.


  8. Nita@ModVintageLife replied:

    Great post! I loved seeing this apartment and all the things you selected for it. What a job you have!


  9. Vicki Archer (@frenchessence) replied:

    I wish I could have been with you two on all your travels… I still can’t believe how much you did in such a short time… What a fantastic job you did… Looking forward to August when you are back… Happy Sunday Claudia… xv


  10. Emily in Exile replied:

    It would take me years to choose all this stuff. You must have magic eyes to be able to do it so fast.


  11. Lisa replied:

    Great Post – Simply Dreamyand I loved everything you bought. This reminded me of why I love and miss France so much.


  12. veuvemcd replied:

    Love your post! Je suis très envieuse…of your client for having such a wonderful apartment in ma belle Nice and of you for having the fun of decorating it. Merci beaucoup!


  13. smalltownmom replied:

    I love seeing how this came together. Beautiful!


  14. Anne replied:

    This is a great reportage…
    I just hired a decorator to redo my future apartment in Paris and it’s freaky when it’s your first time, but your blog is a reassuring testimony of marvelous work and a source of inspiration.
    Thank you for all these details. We really have the impression we’re living this adventure with you… How much treasures you can find. It’s amazing :)
    Hope to see more and more…


  15. Connie replied:

    This was so much fun! I feel like a took a little trip with you. I have very nice memories of a summer I spent in Nice many many years ago. Thanks for taking me back.


  16. Linda McFarlin replied:

    What a beautiful and descriptive post. Your treasure hunt made me feel like I was back in the south of France. I can’t wait to see photos of the finished product!


  17. Nikon replied:

    Wow, those are amazing photos! I love the shots of the town, the apartment, the flea markets – everything is gorgeous!


  18. Jean replied:

    So beautiful!! What a great apartment. Can’t wait to see the finished product! More shopping in August!


  19. Peggy Braswell replied:

    adored going on this adventure with you! Happy Trails to you.


  20. phyllis replied:

    I’m thanking my lucky etoile’s that I came to this post! I savored all of it!
    I’m loving your grown up Garanimals :) the kitchen table and OHHH that round canvas painting…did you get it??? I want!
    I spy a couple of chairs I love…guess I’ll have to wait until I have an apartment in Nice to have you come help!


  21. Lori replied:

    Oh Claudia, that was a superb photo journal! I echo all of the above sentiments. I was so transported by your post that I do believe it assuaged my urgent need to travel and create… for the moment. Your work suits you so! Thank you for being vulnerable with us and sharing the intimate details of your day-to-day adventures!


  22. Kate replied:

    So fun!!! Thank you and PLEASE follow with an AFTER!


  23. Adam in Texas replied:

    Wow – what a beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing.


  24. Astrid replied:

    Of all the lovely photos – the last is my favorite (with the wine).


  25. Karen Y. replied:

    Gorgeous photos and a wonderful job you did buying beautiful pieces! Is there any chance of finding out what agent your client used to purchase this home?


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