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Snag a 17th-Century Boatyard Turned Light-Filled Residence

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Location: Île de Ré, France
Price: Price Upon Request

When French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte set his sights on a seaside retreat on the tip of Ile-de-Ré, he was faced with a thorny dilemma: two separate residences, both in dire straits, had to be united into one cohesive whole without disturbing the adjoining, historically significant properties. To begin with, the architect carved out a central staircase between the properties and crowned it with a broad skylight, letting light pour into the flanking open-plan living rooms. Then, Wilmotte set his sights on the interiors—leaving its exposed beams and rustic floors intact, partitioning them with angular white walls, and adding a levitating fireplace. It would've been a Herculean effort anywhere. Wilmotte did it all inside the shell of a 17th-century former industrial boatyard.

Glass partitions, bare florescent beams, and write-home-to-mom contemporary furniture are all par for the course in this modern 3-bedroom residence, which cozies up beside the ramparts of France's Saint-Martin-de-Ré harbor, a 17th-century, star-shaped fortress.

House on the seaport of Saint Martin [Sotheby's]
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