An Abandoned Site Is Reimagined as a Boutique Retreat in the French Countryside

Co-owners Lucas Madani and Marine Gabily transform a series of dilapidated buildings into an idyllic rental decked out with antique pieces and collector’s furniture—some of which guests can purchase.
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Located in France’s Perche Sarthois region between Normandy and the Loire Valley, Le Moulin is a boutique rental home surrounded by bocage (a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture found throughout the French countryside). "A river delimits our domain," says Lucas Madani, cofounder of design and architecture studio Hauvette & Madani, who opened the picturesque holiday getaway with Marine Gabily, a communications manager with a passion for vintage decor. "The road is 300 meters from our door," Madani continues. "It’s a path that brings us to this place out of time."

Lucas Madani, cofounder of design and architecture studio Hauvette & Madani, and communications manager Marine Gabily transformed an uninhabited property in the French countryside into a picturesque vacation rental roughly two hours from Paris.

The idea of getting lost in time is one that Madani and Gabily explored while renovating the long uninhabited property set on roughly five bucolic acres. "To create the perfect country house surrounded by nature, our first thought went to wabi-sabi and minimalism," Madani says. The co-owners also drew inspiration from Shaker traditions for their thoughtful refashioning of the interiors, which are decorated with a unique selection of antique pieces and collector’s furniture, including a number of items that guests can purchase using QR codes.

The main house includes a fully equipped kitchen and dining area with curved archways that open to the living room.

In the living room, a cozy fireplace is clad in floor-to-ceiling white tile.

The brief was straightforward: to transform the existing property into an environment that would be capable of welcoming many guests. "We needed a big, central space where people could meet at different times of the day, but we also wanted each person to feel comfortable in their personal space," Madani explains. "That is why we created rooms, like hotels rooms, with en suite bathrooms and facilities." 

Designed to be rented in its entirety, Le Moulin can accommodate 10 to 12 guests. The plan configuration reads like a mini village with separate structures connected by a lush inner courtyard.

The kitchen walls are adorned with a freehand pattern rendered by Madani.

Large glass windows let in views of the surrounding countryside.

Guests can purchase many of the furnishings and decor items via QR codes. 

"We wanted to create a comfy house where guests can feel the sophistication of a hotel," Madani says. Throughout the property, the interiors are steeped in earthy, muted tones with details like arched walls, wood paneling, and reconstituted marble. 

Rooms are furnished with vintage pieces sourced from local flea markets and yard sales, such as secondhand chairs that Gabily reupholstered. Handmade ceramics, tufted tapestries, and other carefully selected decor items are complemented by contemporary pieces like Fly Gaby wall sconces by Hauvette & Madani.

The principal bedroom accommodates three people with two beds: one king-size and one single.

A king-size bed sits below a slanted ceiling with exposed wooden framework in the second sleeping area.

The main house offers a spacious kitchen and dining area that connects to a cozy living room via four arched wall openings. The 861-square-foot unit also includes two bedrooms and a shared bathroom with a soaking tub.

The two bedrooms in the main house share a bathroom.

Built-in shelving provides storage near the soaking tub.

A former sheep pen on the property now serves as La Bergerie, a 237-square-foot guesthouse with two levels. The ground floor includes a small living room with a convertible sofa that sleeps one person, in addition to a bathroom and kitchenette. Pierre Frey curtains that belonged Madani’s grandmother cover the wood-framed windows in the living area. Upstairs, a sleeping area with a queen-size bed offers views of the countryside. 

The 237-square-foot La Bergerie is housed in a former sheep pen on the property.

A bedroom on the second level features a queen-size bed.

In the bathroom, terrazzo floors and green wall tiles complement a white, shell-shaped sink that Gabily sourced second hand.

Nearby, a 194-square-foot suite includes a queen-size bed and a private bathroom. Madani and Gabily incorporated ’70s-inspired decor into this guesthouse, such as carpeted floors and vintage Lita wall lamps.

Vintage Lita lamps hang from the ceiling above a queen-size bed in the ’70s-inspired suite. 

The private bathroom includes a soaking tub.

Le Moulin is still a work in progress, with further improvements on the horizon. Madani and Gabily say they are working with the local district to install a hydrowheel on the property, which is currently self-sufficient in water thanks to an existing well on the site. "If our calculations are good, the generated hydroelectricity could be enough to satisfy all the property’s needs," explain the duo.

Le Moulin can accommodate 10 to 12 people and is available to rent throughout the year.

The pair also point to an additional mill along the river that they haven’t yet renovated, as well as an old house with a large chimney and a bread oven. "It will be a place to gather and eat," the Le Moulin co-owners say, continuing: "We are looking forward to renovating them."

The boutique rental home is set on roughly five bucolic areas just two hours from Paris.

Learn more about Le Moulin on Instagram or book your stay on the website.

Related Reading:

This Rental Near Joshua Tree Is a Desert Escape for the Design Minded

A Former Fish Warehouse in Portugal Is Reimagined as a Brilliant Villa Filled With Light

Project Credits:

Interior Design: Lucas Madani of Hauvette & Madani and Marine Gabily

Builder/General Contractor: Pro Mat

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