In the heart of the countryside on the outskirts of Lille, France, interior decorator Rachel Coppens welcomes us into her home.
A former stable transformed into a house for a growing family of three, the structure features a cathedral roof and exposed framework that contribute to its rustic charm. “As soon as I saw this place, I knew that I had found our home,” she says. “It has everything – volume, untouched space and nature.”
Rachel and her husband, who had previously resided in a former silk factory in the centre of Lille, were looking to relocate to the country in time for the birth of their first child when they came across the barn. It clearly required plenty of work and a little bit of luck – butRachel felt the space checked some necessary boxes and had plenty of promise.
“We wanted to have outdoor space as well as big open-plan loft-style volumes,” sharesRachel, who is known on Instagram as @RachelStyliste. “We also wanted to start from scratch and dream up our own home, and it was easy for us to imagine our family living here.”
From the planning stages to completion, the two renovation experts dealt with everything. The 1,000sqft barn was converted into a living area complete with a kitchen, dining room and sitting room. From there, they constructed a door that now leads to a 1,400sqft wood-covered extension that housesRachel and her husband’s en-suite bedroom, as well as two additional bedrooms and a bathroom that caters to their needs as a family.
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Instead of gutting the space completely,Rachel decided to restore the structural elements that could be conserved, such as the framework. To ensure cohesiveness throughout the barn, walls on the extension side and the two adjoining partitions were whitewashed, allowing the partitions to blend in with the living area’s exposed beams. See more: How to wrap your Christmas presents, according to a Hong Kong florist
After supervising the completion of the construction work,Rachel took designing the home – a passion that has become her profession – into her own hands. She describes her style as a melting pot of rustic and ethnic bohemian influences with lots of wooden elements, which is apparent at the first glance of her own home. Travel is her primary source of inspiration and as an interior stylist,Rachel is well-equipped with information on where best to unearth furniture, particularly in Lille and in nearby Belgium, which has a wealth of design boutiques and antique stores, and is one of her favourite regions to hunt for one-of-a-kind pieces. “I enjoy going to Architecture et Matériaux Authentiques in Tourcoing,” she says. “It’s there that I found railway sleepers for our kitchen worktops.”As for the piecesRachel couldn’t find, she decided to build them herself. The dining table, crafted using timber planks, was designed and produced entirely by her, as was the tepee bed she had long dreamed of but hadn’t been able to locate for her son’s bedroom. “I learned to use a jigsaw during my carpentry lessons while doing my visual merchandising course,” she shares. “I’ve come to enjoy do-it-yourself work, as it allows me to make my own unique pieces at more practical price points.”See more: The Home Journal guide to spending the most wonderful time of the year in New York
Rachel has succeeded in injecting her deeply personal style into her home, lovingly arranged with a harmony of materials and tones. Wood, soft rugs and an array of candles create a cosy, intimate setting that’s perfect for Yuletide celebrations. Her finishing touch is the Christmas tree, decorated in varying shades of white and gold – and adding to the magic of winter evenings spent by the fireplace.
This article originally appears in our December 2018 issue as ‘Stable Charm,’ available on newsstands now.
Photography: Julien Fernandez