We were honored to spend three weeks in Saint-Gaultier, France, to begin the restoration and remodeling of a newly purchased space built in the 1400’s. A local Denver resident and world traveler purchased this beautiful chateau as a home for her internationally located family. We are incredibly honored to be trusted with this project.
Saint-Gaultier is a medieval town about 3 hours south of Paris in Central France, with a population of around 2000. It sits on the idyllic Creuse River, located in the little-known Indre (36) region of the French countryside. The town features a monastery founded by the Abbey of Lesterps in 1100 with a 12th century Romanesque church. The remains of towers and ramparts from the medieval walled ‘city’ can be found throughout the town, but this property’s tower is known to have been occupied by Henri IV, ‘Good Kind Henry’ during his Saint-Gaultier stay.
We had been preparing for this amazing task given to us for several months; Learning a bit of French in order to communicate well with international companies for furniture & decor orders. For our first visit we got to know the bones of the entire space, began renovations in small parts across the entire home and were able to get the master bedroom to about 80% completed. This room sits in the most amazing spot in the whole town, overlooking a medieval church & courtyard and a roundabout where cars come in on the narrow street. The bedroom balcony is so lovely with its original iron railing, tall French doors, and wood shutters.
We had items scheduled to arrive while there, so preparation and coordination was key. The bed, armoire, nightstands, and lighting arrived in time for us to put this space together before our departure. There is a guest bedroom on the same floor, which has a pair of twin beds and nightstand, so far. Next time we plan to complete that space.
Christine has a longtime passion for history, so she asked permission from the owners to do a little digging (literally) behind the plaster covering the fireplace, knowing there had to be a treasure hidden underneath. What she discovered was 800 year old craftsmanship that has most likely been concealed for at least 100 years. It is made of a thin brick which the French call “tourmit”. Christine carefully and methodically chiseled away, for a total of 60 hours, to discover a piece of medieval history. This, to her, was worth the entire trip! She removed the fake wood mantle and found the original wood beam, along with a long, narrow beam of wood behind it what would have been used to hang pots on for cooking over the fire. Original handmade iron binders and nails were dusted off and exposed, as they are their own works of art.
In what is called King Henry’s room, Christine felt it would be another space that would require some restoration. What she discovered was the room is wrapped in stone! Because stone of that age is so delicate, she and the owners decided they needed to hire a restoration contractor who specializes in historic structures. We will most likely only be exposing portions here and there, as well as exposing the original fireplace in that room under the direction of HouseHome to make sure all will be done in a creative and beautiful way to retain the historical charm.
HouseHome will be traveling to France occasionally over the next year to find ways of honoring the integrity of this medieval chateau, while also renovating the kitchen (work already started) and bathrooms, along with stylish designer furniture and decor that will bring this historical masterpiece to life once again.
We look forward to sharing more about this project as we move forward into 2022 with phase two.