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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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