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A home for a green family to grow

15 June 2016

To get to Lionel and Marie’s place, you wind your way along hilly French roads and down a gravelled path. Their home’s exterior is true to the era that made it – the 1970s – but the family has lovingly aged it by adding wooden shutters that keep the heat in during the winter and out in the summer. An organic energy flows from the garden and through the house, where growing projects are always on the go, everyone’s involved in family meals and a sustainable way of life is second nature. ‘Our dream was to make a simple, natural home,’ says Lionel. Here’s how…

Marie, Thelma and Lison spend time together in their open-living space
Portrait of Lionel, Maria and their three children

Lionel and marie’s home truths

OUR HOME IS... A 160m2 house with some land, which we bought 12 years ago and share with our three children, Lison, Ruben and Thelma. We extended the original 1970’s building using a few eco ideas.

BECOMING PARENTS MADE US MORE ECO-AWARE... You look at your children and ask yourself: ‘What will the future be for them?’ Now we collect rainwater, use our food waste to raise chickens, and Marie has a vegetable patch in the garden. The food we grow does taste better – maybe because it has her heart in it. (See the family’s growing ideas here)

An open kitchen layout means everyone can be together


An open kitchen makes it easy to spend time together. ‘Ours is laid out so everyone can join in – whether that’s cooking or chatting to the chef,’ says Marie.

Try removing door panels from a sideboard to create an open display


Lionel turned his sideboard into an open display by replacing the door panels with chicken wire. ‘I’m happy with the result – it’s rustic, to suit our lifestyle,’ he says.

Use curtains to conceal clutter


Use textiles to disguise what you don’t always want on show. ‘Adding curtains to our cleaning cupboard means we can screen it from view at mealtimes,’ says Lionel.

A big map in the hallway is fun and educational


‘Our big map hangs in the hallway. We use it to talk about places we’ve visited and places in the news – the kids learn to understand different people and not to be afraid of difference’
Lionel, environmental manager, France

Leave the TV out of the living room to create a more homely space

Our room for living

‘We didn’t design our living room around the TV,’ says Marie. ‘We don’t have one! We prefer watching movies together on a projector, which feels special. The sofa is a daybed, so guests can sleep over. And there’s always a book to hand to make you feel at home.’

An inviting, cosy bedroom with books and pictures

‘Our bedroom is made for our way of life, rather than to look magazine-perfect. An inviting bed, a place to put the books we’re reading and some meaningful pictures are all we need’

Curtains instead of doors on a wardrobe increase floorspace in the bedroom

Refresh open clothes storage

‘In our small bedroom, leaving the doors off the wardrobe means we have more free floorspace around the bed,’ says Marie. ‘The curtains were a recent update – they brighten up the room and we can easily cover up our clothes storage if things get on the messy side.’

A bedroom split over two floors gives the teenager in the family her own space

A teen den for work and play

‘As a family we like to be connected, but we also appreciate having our own space. Lison is in her teenage years and it’s important that she has a space of her own, somewhere to be herself and develop in her own way,’ says Lionel. ‘Her bedroom is split over two floors. Below, we’ve created a kind of studio space, where Lison can work, be with her friends and do her hobbies; upstairs, the space is kept for sleep.’

A covered veranda can be turned into an outdoor living room

A room for all seasons

‘We don’t get much rain here, so we can spend a lot of time outside,’ says Marie. ‘Lionel built a covered veranda and we turned it into a living room. We added all the things you’d find indoors, plus a few extras, so the space can have lots of uses. In winter, we drink tea here, in spring we pot plants, and in summer we play, relax and party here.’

‘Our outdoor living-room is our favourite place. Being together here is where we are happiest’

View of Lionel and Marie’s home from the garden
Floorplan of Lionel and Marie’s home

A home to keep us connected

‘We love that our home is arranged mostly on one floor,’ says Lionel. ‘It keeps us close to each other and within easy access of the outdoors. The large, open living space is great for parties too!’

Made by

Photography: Christina Bull  
Styling: Ashlyn Gibson