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Modern Wooden A-Frame Retreat in France

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Like a little chapel on the prairie, architect Jean-Baptiste Barache’s simply elegant retreat in the tiny Normandy town of Auvillier is a modern play on centuries-old forms and technology.

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  “I didn’t want the kind of manicured garden that would mean I’d have to come out on weekends and mow the lawn,” says Jean-Baptiste Barache of the country home he built, mostly by himself, over a year and a half.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    “I didn’t want the kind of manicured garden that would mean I’d have to come out on weekends and mow the lawn,” says Jean-Baptiste Barache of the country home he built, mostly by himself, over a year and a half.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  The result: a house that looks like it’s just been dropped into a field, casual, with nary a path leading up to it and a front door that can barely be detected on the red-cedar-shingled facade.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    The result: a house that looks like it’s just been dropped into a field, casual, with nary a path leading up to it and a front door that can barely be detected on the red-cedar-shingled facade.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  Like the barns Barache scampered through as a child, the house divides its length between loftlike open spaces like the living room, which opens onto a small deck perfect for open-air lolling, and stacked-box nooks and crannies.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    Like the barns Barache scampered through as a child, the house divides its length between loftlike open spaces like the living room, which opens onto a small deck perfect for open-air lolling, and stacked-box nooks and crannies.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  Cubic bookshelves act as a dividing wall near the kitchen.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    Cubic bookshelves act as a dividing wall near the kitchen.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  On the other side of the bookshelves, a sliding door opens to reveal a hidden bathroom.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    On the other side of the bookshelves, a sliding door opens to reveal a hidden bathroom.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  In his kitchen built on the cheap, Barache installed appliances donated by a few architectural Good Samaritans. “I don’t even remember where the sink is from,” he says. Two built-in sliding-door cabinets house the kitchen basics, and the custom-built dining set, a modern riff on the farmers’ table and benches, is large enough to welcome family and visitors dropping in for a meal.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    In his kitchen built on the cheap, Barache installed appliances donated by a few architectural Good Samaritans. “I don’t even remember where the sink is from,” he says. Two built-in sliding-door cabinets house the kitchen basics, and the custom-built dining set, a modern riff on the farmers’ table and benches, is large enough to welcome family and visitors dropping in for a meal.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  In the third-floor bedroom, peekaboo windows offer a glimpse of the surrounding fields.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    In the third-floor bedroom, peekaboo windows offer a glimpse of the surrounding fields.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  The second floor houses three lits bretons, boxlike compartments where the curtains can be drawn to close sleepers off from the world. Inside, each has a built-in shelf for personal belongings and a favorite read.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    The second floor houses three lits bretons, boxlike compartments where the curtains can be drawn to close sleepers off from the world. Inside, each has a built-in shelf for personal belongings and a favorite read.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  A series of horizontal window panes on the rear facade serves as vanes for ventilation and adds a craftsmanlike design come nightfall, when the house is lit up by the flicker of candlelight and gas lamps.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    A series of horizontal window panes on the rear facade serves as vanes for ventilation and adds a craftsmanlike design come nightfall, when the house is lit up by the flicker of candlelight and gas lamps.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  The exposed-wood motif continues inside, where plywood walls, as well as Barache and his guests, keep things warm.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    The exposed-wood motif continues inside, where plywood walls, as well as Barache and his guests, keep things warm.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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  The front door dissolves into the facade.  Photo by: Céline Clanet

    The front door dissolves into the facade.

    Photo by: Céline Clanet

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