28 Mar 2018

Home: One Is Not The Same As Another

What was I thinking?
I have been moving around a lot lately, I mean moving a lot around. What I really mean is moving goods and chattels from one place to another. From Saint Rémy to Saint Rémy, from Saint Rémy to London and from London to London. And more.

It’s been a punishing workout in more ways than one and we are still not settled. There is something I have learned the hard way and I wondered what your thoughts are on this.

Storage is for dummies and no two properties are alike.

I have been saving “pieces” for years just in case. In case? What possessed me to imagine that 18 years later I would still like the same pieces and they would work in a new home?

Living in a fool’s paradise some would say; the storage companies would say I was their dream client.

Let’s start in France.

I have mentioned we are opening La Maison du Village in the centre of Saint Rémy de Provence in a few weeks (fingers crossed). It’s a beautiful village house with spacious rooms and original features. I am thrilled with how it is looking – light, airy, simple and very comfortable. You can see some of the details in the pic above. The reception areas and bedrooms I have treated like my own with personal touches to make our guests feel like it is their own home.

We bought it with all the charm in the world and all I have done is freshen and revive what is a beautiful home away from home in southern France. Why did I think my past life would fit in and add excitement to the already lovely interiors? Nothing worked – it was either too dark, too large, too I-don’t-know-what. What looked fabulous in a farmhouse does not necessarily translate to life in the village.

Being the fussiest of fusspots, I would rather wait and get it right than place and hang what I know doesn’t suit. It will take longer and it is more work but when you love a home like I do La Maison du Village, it deserves my best attention.

The moral of the story is a home is a unique and very individual place and deserves to be furnished and decorated for its own sake. Some pieces will translate but many won’t. Away everything went.

Forget storage, (slowly learning from my mistakes) the biggest and brightest stars travelled the autoroute and arrived in London.

Am I repeating myself? HELP. What was I thinking?

Nothing works in Notting Hill either. I’m not talking personal effects, memorabilia or those bits close to the heart. I have sofas and chairs from forever ago – not the style I want anymore. If you have been following my Instagram mood you will see a distinct interest in emerald green and soft pink. That’s where I am headed. I want to create a more contemporary interior and work with those colours.

Now my new palette is cluttered with nothing, absolutely nothing I like or want.

My resolve is strong, I started the year brave and I will continue in that vein. I won’t be defeated and I will have patience. The old will go and fortunately, our children are happy to be the recipients of much. Luckily Emily’s cottage in the countryside needs some TLC.

Did I really believe a chandelier, stored for two decades would arrive and be easy to hang? How could I forget electrical standards change and crystals get grubby? The pity was I didn’t think about that before I unpacked the three enormous crates that held it, in our living room. A deep breath is in order, it will work I simply must retain my equilibrium.

What’s the moral of my ramble?

No two properties are alike. What suits one doesn’t necessarily work in another. All the planning and measuring in the world doesn’t account for our changing taste and lifestyle. Houses have distinct personalities – some are more rustic like our farmhouse and some are finer, like the village house. Both are beautiful but completely different. A flat in London is another story and different again.

After a very exhausting few weeks, I have come full circle. Our “old” needs to stay where it was and the “new” deserves a fresh start. It doesn’t mean we don’t love what we had it simply means it is the moment to change course and find what works in our current life.

Who said moving was stressful ;) xv 



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WOW Vicki, you have been very busy indeed! I was under the impression from your IG photos that you were on a photo session adventure of Paris, but I had no idea this was on a more personal note! Like you, over the years I have purged the imitation (sorry for anyone out there who enjoys repros) and have gotten rid of that which is not “authentic” in my opinion (old wood, old oil paintings)…

The light and airy feel is what I crave and we are just about there. Our bedroom is now the final frontier which I hope to tackle in bits, starting today. I think as we get older we get wiser and understand that we need not only a place to lay our heads but a place to breathe and allow our minds to be at peace. I wish you success on this journey!


I was on a photo session in Paris… and working with some favourite brands… :) which is the most fun of all … But…
That is only the half of it. We are renovating the new property in Saint Rémy and moving home in London… It’s exciting, but … I am weary!!
I am nearly there and very excited about all our new adventures… but… there have been a few too many moving parts… even for me… :)
And yes, to light and airy… which is why I am struggling with all my “old” furniture and “bits”… I have fallen out of love!!


Vicki, You have been busy! I am dealing with a similar dilemma having moved out of a neighborhood which we raised our son in and out of three houses which date from the early 20th century into a mid century across town. I’m only really satisfied with one space and so the redecorating begins! Lower profile Furnishings, cleaner lines but still with a bit of warmth. And like you, the old is being sent off to my son and his plethora of friends in need of furniture. It all works out! It’s only stuff!


So true! Only stuff… but how do we get so much stuff, Pamela ;) ;)
I have far too much stuff … uugh… Anyway… deep breath and a strict clean out is in order.. ha ha…


My style and likes/dislikes have evolved over the years as well. I like a more transitional style these days, with a hint of farm style. I like the contrast of refined and rustic. To that end we just had our old farm style table refinished – it was delivered today – but I added more modern slipcovered parsons’ chairs. I also have donated/tossed many items that I no longer have a thing for – but keeping our family table is one thing that will work today and always.


You are BRAVE…with a capital B! It certainly is an exhausting process that we all seem to go through when down sizing…almost there Vicki!!!

Ann Pauley

What color will your kitchen be?
Love the color palette! Your gone will surely be a work of art and talent!
I’m visiting Paris in June and really am getting excited . Already started packing!!
Ann P.


I may be heading into a move next spring…the thought of yet another, this time huge purge is daunting. I keep telling myself it’s only stuff and if worse comes to worse, I can go out and buy something to replace what I’ve given away! That makes me settle down but I also want to crawl into bed and forget about it all! Ha, ha! Well, wishful thinking.


Oh my – have I ever been down that road …”I can’t let this go, let’s put it in storage” – only to unpack years later and then “what the heck was I thinking?” I’ve figured it out, and the last several properties I moved from and sold – I offered to sell the furnishings to the new owners. If the buyers weren’t interested…donated or given away…..except of course, my books, art and precious keepsakes and a special piece or two. I’m loving the freedom – loving that my taste has evolved. Each of my homes has had its’ own personality – just like us, our children and our pets!

Julie Wentz

Hi Vicki
I was a guest at Petit Bijou two years ago and it was lovely. I met Christine from your farm and she prepared a lovely birthday meal for me. Pardon my curiousity but have you sold the farm and if so what has happened to Christine and her family?
Kindest Regards


Christiane is still managing Le Petit Bijou and also La Maison du Village … so her gorgeous touch is everywhere :)


So nice to hear that Christiane will be managing LMDV for you. She was wonderful when we were at LPB – and such a brilliant cook. We loved her tomato tart and all the other things she made for us. Such a lovely lady too! You will need to clone her for your Paris boutique hotel when it eventuates. Best wishes to you and yours and all for a Happy Easter!


How many people still like furniture and other stuff they bought 20 years or more ago?! Not me either. Or at least not much of it. Have already given heaps away. At our age there is no point in storing it. For what? It’s not our DiL’s taste so we would just be leaving a lot of bother for them to have to dispose off at the end of our lives. My husband is sorting through boxes of books that have never made it to shelves and old research papers in our big garage. We’re gradually shedding things. It feels good. If I could, I’d turn out much of our existing furniture and buy completely different – but really we don’t want the bother or expense of that. We prefer to spend most of our money on experiences – like travel in comfort in France (and attending the opera, ballet, special exhibitions, nice restaurants and some well thought out shopping) – than on things like furniture these days. But totally understand when you’re creating a beautiful ambience for your new venture and for your move into different accommodation that you would be pre-occupied with this. Even though we’re not doing it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it when other people do. Best wishes, Pamela

Jilly hampshire

Hi Vicki. Your experience on moving is
Quite justified and very funny (not) I moved
To Berry on the Sth Coast when my husband
Peter died, built a house built a shed for
Storage. ( 4 shops later) way too much stuff
Dont want any more. But alas i just opened
My 5th shop. (Where was my brain ). Way
To much work getting it done up i forgot
Thank god my daughter victoria is doing it
With me. Good luck with your projects take
Care jilly


I hear you Jilly… and if my memory serves me well your shop will be heavenly. :)


Vicki, you have so much energy and ambition! I know energy isn’t infinite for anyone, but you sound quite empowered by your enthusiasm for your current projects. I look forward to learning more about your Village quarters. The next six weeks will see me running all over the map — good trips. But I’ll keep an eye on your site here, to watch the unveiling and learn more about its availability, locale, etc.

You’re impressive!

Beth Bates

This article has helped me so much today. After leaving my 40 year farmhouse and trying to decide and reflect on 100’s of boxes of treasures…it is all so overwhelming. Thank you

Kathy Andersen

LOVE to stay in St Rémy! It has been on my list for years!
Thanks for all of your stylish fashion and living!

Dahlia Row

One of the first details into our travel log when we started planning our next trip to France was to put your address in as a destination, hoping that you would be up and running and we would somehow sneak a peak. My husband even suggested that we would arrive at your reception seeking ‘a brochure’ simply to take an actual look around !!!
Following your French journey and adventures elsewhere has been a joy and inspiration since the first time that I came across you ……… can not wait to follow the next adventurous stage of your journey.

Veronika McDuffey

It would be a pleasure to see what you have done with your beautiful home and St. Remy. Thank you for sharing your advice.


An original devotee of French Essence I’ve followed your ventures ever since. We returned from our overseas posting with so many new “treasures” and so much in storage but I discovered not only had our tastes changed but the way we lived had changed, the child was a teenager and the house dictated some choices, too. Did you find as your children got older you wanted a different style of decoration? As we’re both on the verge of retirement I want less of everything and strive for a simpler, more streamlined decor. My hankering for luxurious houses is now satisfied by holiday accommodation! The more luxe the better. Adored Petit Bijou and adore LMdV! Well done you! Deborah

Pam Clarke

I love the energy level you have! I think creative people tend to have several projects going at the same time.
After having downsized twice and emptying a storeroom, I’ve finally reached the point of less is better! I told myself I was not even going to buy anything heavy because I do like moving my furniture around. Blew that so once again, I will sell a few pieces and go for lighter and smaller. I love reading everything you write and all of the pictures. You are indeed an inspiration to me. I would love to visit St. Remy in Provance.

Francine Nepgen

I would love 💗 to see your world in Provence, Vicki Archer…if only I could have the chance I will catch a jet plane right away, yey!

Lodia Eagle

Thanks for all your stylish information every time. Would love to see where you stay

Ros Murray

In desperate need of something inspiring for my soul. I have just spent the last 3 weekends writing school reports. La Maison du Village would do the trick.

Peggy Taylor

Would love to win and finally meet you Vicki after all these years! What a journey and wonderful life you have had!
Love to experience your world for a few days…thank you for this amazing gift! All the best sweet friend!

Dren Nupen

Dear Vicki,
Love your style and creativity. You’ve been a great inspiration as I try and discover my mojo after so many years of putting children, husband and career first. A visit to St Remy might just do the trick!


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