Trish Deseine has been flipping French properties as fast as hot crepes. But now she thinks she’s found the perfect space in which to cook and create …
Trish Deseine with Jack, photography by @franckschmitt_photographe
Property speculator was not a role I ever imagined myself playing. I’ve always bought and sold my homes to suit whatever circumstances in which I found myself and my children, not to look for profit. But since upping sticks from my sweet country house last year, purchased in 2019 and my first empty-nester home, suddenly located in one of France’s most desirable post-pandemic, escape-from-Paris areas – it turns out I might have to update my CV.
Yes, I’m moving again. The 2019 house sold in just four days in July 2022. This one, in a month, a year later. Both went to Parisians urgently seeking the bucolic-chic lifestyle within striking distance of the capital that my Cotswoldy Perche region in Normandy has to offer.
It was not at all a coup de coeur or love at first sight story between this little village house and me. A former Gîte de France, stuffed with old-fashioned, left over furniture, it had been empty for a while. It had no heating, and despite retaining many lovely original features, felt sad, gloomy and rundown. But I was in a real hurry, a much bigger project had fallen through, my belongings were in soul-destroyingly expensive storage and as ever, I required not only a home, but a working space. Mostly, with our THE GLOSS/NEFF partnership up and running, I needed a kitchen!
The existing kitchen was nothing short of horrendous. I instantly missed my spacious (but freezing in winter) old cuisine with its stone fireplace, pale yellow tiles, long table and door out to the garden. This one was poky, damp, faced the (albeit charming) street, with grey, imitation parquet lino, dodgy electrics and wall tiles painted bright red. How on earth could I make it in any way attractive, ergonomic and integrate my beautiful, state-of-the-art NEFF appliances within my teeny budget? In the end – a blessing in disguise – I had all winter to figure it out. Daunted by the huge pre-completion clean-up and clearout needed, the owners delayed the final sale date until the beginning of December, much too late in the year to drag contractors out to supply me with estimates, let alone have them start any work.
GOING, GOING, GONE! Trish’s soon-to-be-vacated kitchen in Le Perche. Trish stripped back to basics in this kitchen, allowing top quality NEFF appliances and a chic white shell, with units from IKEA and a three-metre counter, to make a statement.
I revived my neglected Pinterest board, trawled Instagram for interior design accounts and booked weekly online consultations with the IKEA kitchen design team. (I heartily recommend their services, as not only had they properly considered how to house my sophisticated NEFF hobs and oven, they also look at the non-IKEA parts of the room.) I decided to fully embrace the mix of old and modern, making one slick, three-metre counter with my gorgeous hobs and oven at one end, where the light was best, the work area in the middle, and the dishwasher at the other end, near the sink. Everything else was to be retro style and freestanding. Most importantly, to freshen and create a greater impression of space, it all had to be white. Under the nasty lino were old terracotta tiles, and after a good scrub, they and all other surfaces, from beams to walls to tiles, got a coat of pristine white paint.
Staying warm in various AirBnbs and friends’ homes over the winter, I became a zealot of Marie Queru, AKA “L’Arrangeuse”, a sort of French Marie Kondo meets interior designer, meets philosopher, who navigates her dreamy, minimalist life between Paris and Île de Ré and was mostly responsible for the super-clean style I was seeking – but did not quite achieve! Having undertaken a comprehensive edit of years of kitchen kit, props and French brocante finds for my budding online store, when I left my romantic cottage kitchen, I had a pretty sharp inventory to hand. I spent winter mentally tidying and arranging my kitchen, adding IKEA’s slim, smooth sliding cutlery and spice drawers to the modern unit, and sourcing the perfect-sized armoire Parisienne as my pantry. But very quickly, as soon as I started cooking and entertaining, in true Goldilocks style, it became obvious that compared to last year’s large, cold country kitchen, this one was just too small.
So now, I’m off again, making the most of Le Perche’s enduring appeal to sell well and, after a bigger project in the area again fell through, move further south. There’s a lot of renovation needed in the new place, but there’s much more space inside and out for children and grandchildren, possibly even room for a pool, and it’s closer to the coast – and Île de Ré! My gorgeous NEFF kit is of course coming with me, along with all the other items I have so carefully selected, and, rich with the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years, Goldilocks here thinks it might, at last, become her “just right” kitchen. See Chez Moi, At Home With Trish Deseine and NEFF, a cooking and entertaining series, at www.thegloss.ie.
Kitchen Design: Five Lessons Learned from Trish Deseine
1. Slimline, smooth sliding, multi-level spice and cutlery drawers are indeed the absolute bliss I thought they might be.
2. Forget the traditional fridge, cooker, sink “triangle” meant to make kitchens more efficient. Instead think sink, bin, dishwasher. A gamechanger!
3. If you are lucky enough to have a NEFF slide-and-hide oven, fit it in the eye-level unit it truly deserves. (Yes, I talk to mine.)
4. Similarly, make the most of the freedom NEFF’s vented induction hobs allow by fitting them in a central counter or island.
5. If you do not have the budget for a super high-quality worktop, fit a basic one and buy a moveable, lipped, stainless steel cutting surface to reduce scratches, burns and stains. Mine is 90cm wide and 70cm deep, from Amazon.