This rustic stone farmhouse in the South of France is a lesson in contemporary coastal living

Perched in the hills above the Côte d’Azur, this unpretentious cottage provides low-key luxury for laid-back family life

(Image credit: Luke White)

This charming old farmhouse – think mellow, honey-toned stone and pale grey shutters – is just a short drive from both Nice and Cannes, two of the south of France’s most glamorous spots, but it could be half a world away. Here the pace is altogether slower, with the scent of lavender wafting gently into rooms dappled with Mediterranean sunlight.

The owners, who have four children - ages ranging from teenagers to young adults, wanted the house design to meet the highest standards of 21st-century family living while preserving the authentic rustic character of the building. They called on the talents of Studio Indigo for the task.

exterior of french stone cottage

(Image credit: Luke White)

‘This is an unpretentious French farmhouse and the owners were really keen to reflect that, with robust materials and durable pieces that would cope beautifully with the demands of a large family,’ says Mike Fisher, founder and creative director of the luxury interior design practice.

Mike’s first step was to make sense of the main open-plan room, which includes an island kitchen. Although the farmhouse had been reworked by an architect, this huge area, spanning much of the ground floor, came across as an echoey expanse of tiled flooring and beamed ceiling.

Kitchen island with dining stools in french cottage

Caravaggio pendant lights, Fritz Hansen.

(Image credit: Luke White)

By clearly zoning the space into separate functions – including sitting and dining areas – and using custom-made sofas and chairs that sit slightly low in the space, Studio Indigo has created a series of ‘rooms within a room’, while boosting the sense of height.

‘The furniture was designed with lounging teenagers in mind. We wanted big, bold pieces to create comfort and to properly fill and define what felt like a vast empty space,’ Mike says.

dining room with white pendant light and pattern carpet

Bespoke table, Mathew Bray & Matthew Collins. Chairs, The Dining Chair Company; upholstered in leather and Quantock, Fermoie. Plaster Cone light, Rose Uniacke. Conrad lamps, Porta Romana. Painting by Yves Brayer. Rug, Stark. Bespoke sideboard, Treeslounge.

(Image credit: Luke White)

As this is a house the family likes to visit throughout the seasons, it was important to be light and cozy throughout. ‘For many of the rooms, the starting point was a striking collection of abaca and jute rugs, all with a raw, tactile feel bringing warmth to the cool stone floors,’ says Mike.

For the color palette, cues were taken from the south of France: warm, earthy oranges that are the perfect foil for vibrant Mediterranean blues against a backdrop of soft white. ‘We selected a mix of fabrics that would work beautifully when saturated in the Côte d’Azur sunlight.’

dining area with light blue sofa in french cottage

Bespoke sofa, Ridge Interiors. Teak root coffee table, Indigenous. Alma armchairs, Lema; upholstered in Les Ecailles, Pierre Frey.

(Image credit: Luke White)

Equally careful attention was paid to the furniture, with bespoke furniture commissioned and artisan-made pieces incorporated– such as the table and sideboard in the dining area – bringing unique character to each room. ‘Inspired by the location, the limed oak of the sideboard features a sculptural finish that reflects the patterns the waves make in the sand,’ says Mike.

In the sitting room, the coffee table base is formed from a vast piece of a sculptural tree root, bringing a simple rustic element to the scheme while nodding to the tree-clad hillside setting. ‘Through the use of colorful textiles alongside organic materials we’ve celebrated the relaxed French farmhouse feel.’

bedroom with bed with blue fabric headboard

Crusoe trunk, Oka; upholstered in Daran, Zak+Fox. Bedside drawers, Soho Home. Rug, Stark. Keyhole lamps, Eccotrading Design London.

(Image credit: Luke White)

The children’s bedrooms all have a seating area and bathroom, giving each family member their own space. The main suite – with its high ceilings, exposed timber beams, and muted oak floorboards – goes one better, with his and hers bathrooms and dressing rooms, and a generous lounge area that serves as a private retreat.

Here the bespoke seating is gently raised and wraps around the curving corner window, allowing the couple to drink in the magnificent views. With every space so carefully considered and curated, the farmhouse now has a feel of relaxed elegance that the whole family can come together and enjoy.

Outdoors dining area on terrace in french cottage

Uniq Plank table, Thors Design. For similar outdoor chairs, try Corido. Cushions in Antibes Batik in Denim, Ralph Lauren. Augustine outdoor pendant cones, Palecek.

(Image credit: Luke White)

Meet the designer

Mike Fisher shares his style inspiration

What part of the home was the biggest indulgence?

Handcrafted bespoke design, because it is personal to the client.

What small change had the biggest impact?

Color is really important to me. It gives a space personality and identity, bringing vibrancy and a sense of joy.

Do you have a go-to color?

A bit of orange is always inspiring and really warms up shades of blue.

Which details are key to your style?

I like a surface, such as a sideboard - somewhere to put a lamp, some flowers, and knickknack type of things that make a space one’s own.

Describe your style in three words.

Inventive, timeless, joyful.

Who are your design heroes?

Charles Cameron, Edwin Lutyens, John Vanbrugh.

Where do you find inspiration?

More than anything, the building that I’m working on and responding to its particular challenges to create a unique solution.

Do you have a favorite building?

Castle Howard in Yorkshire – it’s so theatrical against the landscape.

Can you tell us a secret address for our books?

L’Atelier Blanc, a charming interiors shop in Valbonne, France.