Inspired by childhood summers, online boutique owner Karine Kong has created a simple yet elegant holiday home in Southwest France – the ideal setting for her family to unwind.
Stepping through the open French windows that lead into the huge pine-scented garden of Karine Kong & Steven Kirk’s holiday home near the Bay of Arcachon in the Gironde, Southwest France, one immediately wonders how they could contemplate living anywhere else. Yet, with Karine as a co-founder of the chic but modern interiors website BODIE and FOU – set up with her younger sister Elodie, nearly two years ago – they divide much of their time between their homes in London (where Steve runs a hedge fund) and Bristol (where the company is based), and travelling around Europe in search of new designers and home accessories for the site.
It was the arrival of their daughter, Mila Sienna two years ago that left both French-born Karine and New Zealand- born Steve hankering to re-create the lazy, salty summer days of their own childhoods. And this little spot of French heaven was the perfect answer. They choose Cazaux as it was where Karine grew up and is near where her parents still live. ‘It’s a wonderfully rich region’ says Karine, ‘with great seafood, wine and the dramatic landscape of Bordeaux’s wineries and castles in one direction and the long, unspoilt beaches of the Atlantic in the other’.
The house is styled in a simple mix of elegant French pieces and contemporary designs. Karine has teamed affordable buys from Ikea and La Redoute with designer items from BODIE and FOU – pretty cushions, tea-light holders and Familia crockery. There are also clever finds from antique markets and junk shops (legacies from her mother, a keen flea-market hoarder) to lend a little personnality.
Each bedroom has a different mood, with accent colours and accessories, and there are sentimental touches, such as toys and beds that they owned as children. Set against the cool, calming backdrop of white walls, subtle French grey and nautical blue hues, the feel is clean and modern, chic but not precious. ‘Whatever the weather, these colours always remind me of being on holiday’, Karine says.
Karine takes a practical yet warm and welcoming approach to family living. ‘After ten years in England, and with Steve’s family on the other side of the world, it was important for me to create a family home, where Mila and my sister Elodie’s daughter Lily, can grow up with the same wonderful memories that we have’, Karine enthuses.
‘We wanted a house where we could all hang out together, cooking and eating, where the kids could run free and we could relax in hammocks under the trees, reading and sleeping’. The family often find themselves having breakfast in the sunshine by the French windows, moving the table to the shade under the trees for lunch and then around to the back of the house for dinner by sunset – having barely moved a muscle to do anything else. Bliss
(c) Interiors Editor Clare Nolan for YOU magazine, Report: Fiona McCarthy, Photographs: Alun Callender
(c) Product credits:
Photo 1 Lily is sitting in the garden on her favourite dog cushion from Bodie and Fou. Photo 2: In the open-plan kitchen/living space, the table is from Ikea, the white chairs from AM-PM La Redoute, the white bone china Familia mugs & teapot by Olen Jensen for Normann Copenhagen and rocking glasses from Bodie and Fou, the glass pendant light is from Baileys Home & Garden, the antique silver candlesticks are flea-market finds. Photo 3: the glass jars filled in with pasta, cereals & coffee are from Le Parfait but can be found at Labour and Wait in Bricklane or in any French hypermarkets, the white espresso cups are from Ikea. Photo 4: cushions by Oromono and Rose scented candle in a jar by Cote Bastide from Bodie and Fou, white ‘Salong’ vase from Ikea, antique mirror found at a flea-market, linen curtains and matching headboard were made by our mum. Photo 5: heart-shaped lavender bag made by our mum. Photo 6: Concrete cocq from Casa, Cap-Ferret hurricane lights and silver decorative heart on fireplace by Bodie and Fou, vintage wardrobe’s top placed over the doorway to add character. Photo 7: plates, glasses and large breakfast bowls from Ikea, Familia mugs & teapot and bone china egg cup holders by kathleen Hills from Bodie and Fou. Photo 7: Mila & Elodie sit on an iron bed that belonged to Elodie as a child. Photo 8: Dinner table set at the back of the house, the existing barbecue was whitewashed by our father who developed his own recipe with water, milk and limestone powder – very economical and eco-friendly. Phot0 9 Framed photos of family & friends add a homely feel. Photo 10 Mila washing her hands in the bathroom, the taps are simple garden taps and the sink is a wonderful vintage sink that used to be a in pre-school, the wooden stool is from Ikea, the towel from Cath Kidston. Photo 11 & 12: Steve, Karine, Elodie and Christophe on the boat. Photo 13: silver tea-lights from Graham & Green, white ceramic tea-light and decorative metal heart by Cote Bastide from Bodie and Fou. Photo 14: Steve & Mila go for a bicycle ride.