marston house – france

July 14, 2011

The dining table of the two bedroom flat in Southern France

For years Sharon and Paul Mrozinski been admired for their singular sense of ancient/modern design. Their ability to create a clean, contemporary feel from richly “patinaed” elements is quite uncommon. To this former medieval history major, their talent for marrying the past and the present is utterly irresistible.

If you are lucky enough to travel through Wiscasset, Maine, you can glimpse their work in person at The Marston House an historic home they renovated into a B&B and antique store. Or if your are really lucky you may even get to visit one of their rental properties in Provence.

Housed in a 17th century grand home in the small, historic town of Apt, France, the two apartments featured here are shining examples of Sharon and Paul’s unique style. As you can see, the historic character of the house has been respected, but it has also been treated with a contemporary finish. Features such as the folded steel stairs in the two-bedroom flat are truly minimal and modern. But these are then softened by warm, gray paint, so as to complement, not contradict, the antique space. Likewise much of the original detail, such as the rough plastering on the walls, has been maintained in a slightly decayed state, not quite restored to its original splendor. While elsewhere the walls simply received a fresh coat of white paint.

The couple also went to great lengths to take advantage of the dramatic scale of the house, opening up the space wherever they could (in the stairs as well as the open kitchens), to create even more light and air. Notice also that in grouping the furniture and decorative elements low (see the lights), Sharon and Paul managed to create an even more exaggerated sense of space above, while at the same time producing more intimate areas below.

Throughout both flats, the colors and materials of the region are also evident, in the deep indigos and terra cotta reds as well fine linens and stuccos – all of which seem to echo the textured landscape seen from the enormous windows. The apartments have been almost entirely furnished with exquisite antiques, also from Southern France, that have been worked and worn to such a minimalist elegance that they would be quite happy in any modern home.

It is rare that a space so successfully bridges the gap between old and new AND at the same time manages to be so totally “of a place.” But through careful editing and thoughtful consideration of all the elements in these homes, Paul and Sharon, have deftly done just that. Their apartments completely pay homage to the faded medieval glory of Southern France, but in a way that is totally 21st century.

Living Room in the two bedroom with the modern steel stair (Notice how the “feel” of the interiors echoes that of the outside below.)

View of Apt from the two bedroom flat

Another view of the dining area and updated kitchen

Living room in the one-bedroom flat

Open kitchen in the one-bedroom flat

Master bedroom

Another view of the living room

For information on these and the couple’s other French property, as well as their Maine rentals, go to There you can also purchase some wonderful historic pieces similar to those seen here.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew July 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

This space is sublime! Great posting Justine!


sue@solsticehome July 15, 2011 at 6:53 am

fabulous, oh how i’d love to see/find a place like this to live in ;)


Justine July 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Ditto! Here’s an idea. Instead of the Cape let’s all meet up for some antiquing in France!


dolittledesign July 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Can I come too? We are actually planning on a trip to Provence next summer. I checked out their website, but am not sure they welcome kids… Not even well–behaved ones like Audrey and her big brother?… I would like to see more features here on ‘spaces with kids.’


Justine July 16, 2011 at 12:40 am

Hi Jen,

I would email Paul and Sharon directly and ask if they mind kids. I can vouch that yours are well-behaved!

As for more kids spaces here, I tend to do that over at which I have been writing for for years. But I will keep my eyes out and maybe shoot a few picts of my own kids rooms.



dolittledesign July 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Oh my, I was joking when I was talking about my “well–behaved” kids… Children are children and they all share their moments of ‘behaving unacceptably.’ My comment really stemmed from our recent stay at a B & B in Vermont where the innkeeper posted “well–behaved children are welcomed.” I fully understand some property owners are not comfortable about having kids at their places and neither are we interested in vacationing at a place where we have to be ‘on the watch–out’ all the time. We do find it challenging to find vacation rentals which have characters and welcome children. We often have to settle for less interesting options. I guess this is the reason to have your own vacation home (like you!)

Ummmm…not so much kids’ rooms in particular but homes whose occupants are families with children. Just a thought that this may of interest to your readers.


Justine July 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Well since I would be interested in those properties too, I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled. I saved some good Cookie magazine kid vacay recommendations. Tho many tended to be in the $4 million/per night range, they did have a few great affordable options. Will email them to you.


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