Hidden in the South of France, you'll immediately recognize the Michalopoulos style as you walk up and see James' sculptures placed in various points on the landscape leading up to the house.
Q: James, what were you looking to accomplish when you started making the house, your "own"?
James: I wanted to have fun. My usual orientation. It was falling down. I bought it right in time for a 200 year maintenance cycle. My first objective was to keep it from collapsing. I lived in the stables for two summers while I worked on the roofs. So, I was hoping to have a dry interior and take it from there.
Q: What is your favorite feature of the home?
James: What I like most is the openness of the interior. I took out ceilings on two floors and, in spots, have a 35 foot ceiling. I took the opportunity to create some balconies and open interior terraces. I love my kitchen. It's good sized with 10 ft tall arched windows all around and a terrace on either side. I put a counter and range diagonally across the room with a bar on the back of it. I live in the kitchen...it's the only space with formal heating too. That helps in the fall.
Q: Tell us about the colors of your home.
James: I like my home expressive but orderly. I have lots of bright colors throughout but incorporate sculptural changes to enliven the early 19th century space. It's the only red castle in Burgundy as far as I know. It's rouge bourgoine--appropriately. I was lucky to be allowed to choose a color. Tradition weighs heavily here and it's rarely permitted.
Q: Where do you work on your paintings?
James: I work in the old stables. I have a paint atelier with great light and large windows. I'm surrounded by trees and naked french models. There's forest and fields and abundant water around my village. I mostly paint the landscape and farm animals. The other side of the stables is a metal shop. I sculpt here when I'm not painting.