Le style Francais
Once off home turf, adjusting to a new country and its decorative quirks can present a challenge - and it's all too easy to be judgmental. So remember as you head south to la belle France that, unlike at home, not everyone has access to a lovely little Farrow & Ball shop round the corner (nor indeed its neighbouring brace of antique emporia – themselves staffed by interchangeable Annabellas who, when not applying yet more lippy, spend their time writing out extortionate prices on bijou monogrammed labels).
And if when searching for your new French home, you're occasionally confronted by an over enthusiastic use of brown paint, mauve loo or a cuisine American in a particularly energetic hue, pause and consider.
You've come from the land of Carpetright and SCS - who themselves have some fairly extraordinary ideas as to what constitutes good taste (their wares designed by teams of colour blind Igors chained in darkened cellars). Similarly, your local council has a passion for glass fibre clad superstores plonked in the middle of 50 acre car parks – the appeal of which lasts less time than the sandwiches within. And a quick trundle through the outskirts of your local town will reveal your fellow countrymen's attachment to tacky air brick built porches, deeply nasty faux leaded glazing and stick on stone cladding. All of which, to be fair, makes it a tricky for les rosbifs to consider themselves arbiters of peerless taste.
And anyway, beneath the studiously applied paintwork and flimsy mdf, your otherwise charmingly proportioned French farmhouse is ready to share its three hundred years of history. Assuming that you've some vision and at least a passing acquaintance with paint remover, cold chisels and lump hammers (or can nominate an unsuspecting relative who has), exposing the long covered beams, hand carved stone and hidden doorways will be its own reward. And a lot more fun than a trip to B&Q.