by Emmi Micallef
February 03, 2018
Who does not love France? Belgium? Italy? Those dreaming to build or are in the process of building their dream home perhaps yearn for authentic, unique and beautiful materials from these regions.
After over 18 years at Pavé - François has painstakingly sourced and still sourcing only the best suppliers from these regions for our showroom. No where in the country where you will find such a curated repertoire of the finest old world stone and oak flooring.
The fact that Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. is not in a big city - but out in a college town surrounded by mountains and countryside is a wonder. Some clients lament the trip up - but upon entering the showroom - the beauty and quiet European ambiance quickly submerges them. Other clients enjoy the fact that life here is slower paced - they concentrate fully on their plans - having the entire showroom to learn about the materials, installation advice and design flow of the materials that attract them most. That is what makes Pavé different. Pavé is a lifestyle for our family. We are fully invested in our materials, experts in this field, and have the most direct and best suppliers of these materials. Designers and architects appreciate the depth of our knowledge and our sourcing and homeowners enjoy their private design appointments where we discuss not only the materials - but synchronizing the other attributes of the home from paint and beam colors to counter top and cabinet choices. Our transparent pricing as seen on our website with trade and quantity discounts makes working with us an honest endeavor.
This image above with Pavé surrounded by tall Pines is a juxtaposition of two worlds colliding. How did this happen? A showroom filled with perfected installations and vignettes of French, Belgian and Italian stone and wood flooring embraced by such wilderness?
There is a personal reason why these two worlds have collided.
The story is about François that I wrote, for it touches my heart over and over again.
In the image below, François is with his boy scout troop exploring an abandoned manor home in France. He is the second one from the left.
A Frenchman in the Woods
At 19 years old, with a camping tent, pocket knife and a few changes of clothes, François left Nice, France to the only place he knew in the United States – the woods of Western, Massachusetts. Known to him from a boy scout troop visit at 15, he fled here with a slight command of English, as his only option from the heaviness he endured at home.
Thirty-two years later, François is unable to reflect on the first four months living in those woods. Camping in his tent, one meal a day, braving weather and long nights – his perception of isolation and loss of his childhood are too palpable in his memory for him to ever discuss.
There are few men who have the endurance and unyielding will to survive like I have seen from François. From boyhood to manhood, he never worked a day in his life for anybody. Gifted with talented hands and a sharp mind, François taught himself carpentry while living in those woods, and began constructing Adirondack chairs to sell by the side of the road. As the months passed and with more confidence in his craft, he earned money by becoming a handyman that soon became a business of building patios and additions for local residences.
At 21, missing the beauty of French aesthetics and building materials, François opened his first tile showroom, called Tile Unlimited, showcasing handmade tiles from Provence. The beauty of the South of France enamored many in this sleepy New England town, and soon François had a crew in toe where he installed kitchens and bathrooms to meticulous perfection.
As the years progressed, so did François. Opening Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. in 2000 as a showcase for reclaimed French limestone and French oak flooring, François’ close and mature relationships with French and Belgian suppliers have helped Pavé grow and exceed expectations of clients who understand how hard it is to navigate getting quality material from trusted sources.
There were many opportunities at that point to move to a big city - to open up that big showroom. However, François remained here.
Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. is just 30 minutes south of those woods from where the 19-year-old François began his journey. Pavé is François’ mark on this world. Every installation he has done is with exactitude and respect for these noble materials. His bar to reach perfection often means demolishing installations not even 6 months old to be replaced with even more exquisite flooring.
His clients ask him from time to time why is Pavé not in a big city? How odd this location is for such a jewel box of a showroom. The answer is simple and profound, but he would never tell you. A shy and discreet man - it takes his somewhat embolden wife to answer this question.
It is my thought that the woods that surround him were his haven to grow-up safely while discovering himself and his talents. It was his refuge and he literally survived here. However, with France deeply missed, working with these materials - François unknowingly created a daily bridge to his childhood and French culture that he yearns for to this day. Simply, Pavé keeps France close to François’ heart and finally - the woods of Western Massachusetts are the lucky ones. They have beared witness to a French boy grow-up into a French man, as noble as his materials.
Thank you for your time,
Emmi MicallefCo-founder Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.
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