American-born textile designer Susan Snyder has lived in many cities and countries, but she now calls a farmhouse in Normandy home.
Tea time for Susan Snyder means taking the tart out of the oven. Almost every day in her tiny Normandy town, a grouping of just six rustic houses, the neighbors drop by mid afternoon. “I have lots of apple and pear trees growing on my property, so I’m never without the ingredients,” says Snyder, an American textile designer who has lived in her two-hundred-year-old farmhouse for more than a decade. “Just this morning, a neighbor came over with freshly made marmalade and soup. Life in this part of France is all about food.”
Long, long ago, Snyder’s two-bedroom farmhouse, which is actually two structures now attached, plus a barn that functions as her design studio, was part of a village that served the needs of a nearby chateau. What was once a dank cave, or French wine cellar, is now her bright living room, and an upstairs master bedroom she shares with her German husband, a novelist, was once where the bread was baked daily. “I kept the original brick oven, which we now use as a fireplace,” she explains.
Maybe it’s because there are so many buildings and houses in this part of northern France that are centuries old that the locals typically don’t undertake significant restorations. Often, what worked as a dwelling in the distant past works today. “I, however, wanted to transform this house into a charming, happy place for me and my son, now eleven, and my husband,” says Snyder, who was born and raised in suburban Detroit, before embarking on various chapters of her life in New York, Nepal, Paris, and now Normandy. “The French, in general, don’t seem to pay too much attention to upgrading their rustic homes, but I undertook a complete restoration. Let’s call it a ten-year labor of love, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t go to bed some nights crying tears of frustration at how slowly everything was taking place.”
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INTERIOR DESIGN BY SUSAN SNYDER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAURA RESEN
WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO
This story appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of MILIEU.