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Real homes: design envy in the south of France

Today's post is by writer and family travel blogger, Amanda Pollard, who lives in the south of France and has been nosing around this incredible place...

When designers Elisabeth Vidal and Huub Ubbens moved into their Montpellier apartment two years ago it didn’t look like this at all. Uninhabited for five years, it was run down with thick patterned wallpaper everywhere. But they could see the potential and set about renovating the space with the help of some local architects. The result is a beautiful mix of classic 18th century features and original contemporary design.

Huub designed the sleek black chair visible in the background above. The metallic light was also designed by Huub, for Danese.

At the back of the room is a little family area with the children’s keyboard perched upon the couple’s vinyl collection. The album sleeve on the wall is mounted on one of Huub’s clever designs, an adjustable frame which he originally dreamt up as a way of displaying beautiful book covers.

Elisabeth and Huub designed the kitchen units themselves of course. The bright white helps to show off the open cupboards of painted shelves behind, full of crockery and collected objects (below). 

On the central island, below, are a couple of Elisabeth’s playful iemavases – each one has a different place to put your flower (the head, the shoulder, the stomach).

The adjoining living area is a cosy corner of interesting furniture. I love the pink Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec armchair.

Huub’s book holder sits on the side table. It cleverly keeps the page for you and can be carried to bed when you’ve finished reading in the armchair.

Huub’s favourite chair is this elegant, incredibly light, Chiavari chair from 1850 that he found while living in Milan and had restored.

The bright sunlight that reflects off the white building opposite and illuminates the hallway makes the bold colours they’ve chosen in the bathroom and children’s bedrooms look fabulous. Love the mixed palette they’ve used in their son’s bedroom, above.

And how about this for a sunny bathroom?

The couple wanted to extend the bathroom to put a shower in, but didn’t want to break up the floor. So they built this clever unit, above, raised from the floor on circular plinths that Huub describes as ‘black Edam cheeses’ from his native Holland.

In the master bedroom, Elisabeth’s temporary solution for the sloping floor was to put the bed in the centre of the room.

I think it looks great and the colourful bedside chairs behind the head of the bed add to the quirkiness.

But this has to be my favourite idea. Beneath their daughter’s mezzanine bed they’ve made a puppet theatre - just brilliant.

See more of Elisabeth and Huub’s design work at: and

Post by Amanda Pollard

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