Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • August 12, 2017
It was an overcast day with a splash of light rain as I ventured 40 miles from Paris to the small medieval village in northern France.
Where Claude Monet, master of color and interior design, and great impressionist, lived in a cherry pink home with emerald green trim. Surrounded by brilliant colors in his gardens. It was here that he relocated his wife, two children and six step children from Paris in 1883.
“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” Claude Monet
And color surrounds you in this pink masterpiece at Giverny. Lots of pops of color and wow factor, as designers today are so fond of saying.
It was here that Monet created a world surrounded by color with a palette of daffodils, tulips, narcissi and forget-me-knots.
It’s a home that was filled with love and a complicated unconventional family. And it was here that Monet created his beautiful gardens. And in 1914, while mourning the death of his wife as World War I was getting close, he painted his “Water Lilies.”
We're accustomed to seeing Monet in a straw hat sitting at the three-legged stool at his easel under the beautiful Normandy sun. For me, Monet’s home and beautiful gardens overshadows his famous water lilies for which the impressionist is best known. It’s where you most feel the spirit of the artist and it follows you back to Paris and then home.
With vibrant wall colors and tile, light gently streams through the windows enhancing the brilliant colors throughout the home. Monet supervised every detail of the renovation of the home himself and even selected the china. It’s filled with blues, bright yellows and white lace curtains.
The kitchen and dining room were the heart of the home and Monet’s daily life. He didn't care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, so he had it painted in two tones of yellow. This vibrant color enhances the blues of the dishes on display in the buffets.
The walls are packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro.
The dining room is connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The floors were red and white. Family lunch was served each day at 12:30 p.m.
The walls of the kitchen are covered with tiles of Rouen and copper pots. The coolness of the blue contrasts with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. You can bring a bit of Giverny into your own home with Annie Sloan’s popular chalk paint in the color, “Giverny.” It’s described as a “cool, cheery, bright blue that was popular in the 20th century. “
Monet’s drawing room and his first studio, filled with reproductions of his work, is a shrine dedicated to his paintings. “A painting from every stage of my life,” he said.
Like the rest of the home, the furniture and the objects in the studio are still exactly the same and this gives great authenticity to the home.
“My heart is forever in Giverny,” Monet said.
It was here that he found his inspiration, a permanent home and gained recognition as a major artist after so much rejection.
As a designer, I have to wonder if he used the bright colors to balance his gloomy, tormented moments. We will never know for sure but one thing that is certain, the pink house in Giverny is a home that has been loved.
Fortunately, it is cared for today by the Claude Monet Foundation. It is a major tourist attraction that has been lovingly restored. A priceless jewel that is, in my mind, his best work.
Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog