One of the things I love about being an Interiors Therapist is the pleasure of travel and experiencing new places. Working one to one is significantly faster and beneficial for any client, so it was a big ‘Yes’ when I received a referral to work in the South of France.
My Interiors Therapy kit means I travel with lots of luggage, so it’s easiest to book with British Airways and fly out of Terminal 5 at Heathrow… I’m almost on first name terms with the team at Purple Parking! Flying early means I’m with European clients mid morning and they can see real change by the evening. We work longer, more intense days to maximise use of the time. We enjoy dinner together and do a little coaching while we eat.
Springtime in France is spectacular, billowing Wisteria in full bloom washing scented waves through the air and the Maritime-Pines providing an architectural backdrop to pretty villas and ancient buildings as we cruised through the foothills of the alps towards Grasse.
My lovely client lives in a gorgeous village on the side of a hill in Les Alpes Maritimes. It’s one of those places where the houses emerge from the rock face and stack one above another with a steep pathway from a narrow road. Walls are a couple of feet in depth and are built around the shape of the cliff behind them, making each house a unique shape. When you walk up the terracotta steps, across the bijou terrace and through the pretty front door, it’s almost like walking into a furnished cave.
My client showed me around her four storey house, pointing out the only washing machine I have ever seen tucked into a rock crevasse and the sun room crammed with paperwork and abandoned possessions perched in the roof with spectacular mountain and sea vistas. She explained the end of a relationship and the passing of a beloved parent had coincided several months earlier. Her sadness and low mood had been overwhelming, but she had been triggered to take back control of her life and knew the first stage of her recovery was to be happy in her home. She was absolutely ready to put the past behind her and move forward, and simply needed a little help to start the process.
This visit was limited to two days of clearing, and unusually we started work in the lounge room, emptying shelves and cupboards and even the over-burdened door because my client felt this would have the most profound effect on her mood. There isn’t really a culture of charity stores in southern France so our options for disposing of clutter were more limited than usual. My client identified an opportunity to sell her unwanted possessions locally and was quick to make decisions about what should go where. Soon the ‘garbage’, ‘to sell’ and ‘to recycle’ piles had outgrown the space available for them.
We stopped to take a breath of fresh air and walked up through the village to the small park while we discussed her achievements in just a few hours. At the end of a stormy afternoon, we had the place to ourselves and stood surrounded by olive trees, tall rocket-like Cypress and delicate purple flowers draping from the iconic Paulownia trees. Even the rain seems more magical when you’re in such an attractive place.
After a delicious home-cooked meal, the 4am start caught up with me and my huge bed in a room with a coastal view was very welcome.
The next morning we focused on the bedroom, sorting and folding the clothes my client had chosen to keep and bagging the rest into 10 large sacks. We cleared enough space to allow her to remove a bulky cube storage unit which had appeared to press down on my client while she slept. With this gone, the space behind her bed instantly gave the impression of a larger room.
Next we focused on the kitchen. By refining the contents of the cupboards to items she actually used, and disposing of the rest, we made the kitchen work more efficiently to suit the morning routine and for cooking. Everything now had an identifiable space and there was no need to store items on worktops. From this point on, making breakfast and leaving for work or school will be easier and considerably less stressful for the family.
Our last task for this visit was to empty the junk from the attic sun room and convert it into a usable creative space where my client could indulge her passion for drawing, painting and creating with fabric. We rolled up our sleeves and gave the space a good clean to wash away the winter dust before re-allocating the furniture taken from the bedroom to store her paints and art supplies. As night rolled across the countryside below us, the lights of houses, villas and apartments twinkled into the far distance. My client had achieved a huge amount and along the way, brought an extra room into use at zero expense.
That evening when her son returned from a school trip. His first comment was to say how much bigger and lighter his home seemed. He could see from her face that his mother was relaxed and yet still bursting with energy…. A big transformation from when he had last seen her a few days earlier.
By agreement, my final day in France combined coaching and realignment to review the action my client had taken and learn how to reclaim the rest of her home from the clutter and negative energy which had overtaken it. We made the most of the sunshine and took the coaching on a road trip to Antibes for lunch before walking around Le Cap D’Antibes and enjoying a sheltered space to sun bathe. That evening, as my flight climbed into the night sky, my client and her son enthusiastically continued the great work we had started.