The design collaboration between the owners and the Unique France team Gregoire d’Harcourt and Denis Geoffray exemplifies the beauty and intricate detailing of French style. The finished result of this home is quite stunning, with the owner describing the ‘French Nobility’ interior as “elegant, but most importantly as serene and comfortable, where family and friends gather for fine food and conversation in a relaxed and loving atmosphere”. Inspiration for the home came from a variety of sources including many interior decorating books and magazines.
Further ideas also developed from looking at the works of Jacques Garcia, who is best known for his interiors of Parisian hotels and restaurants. Unique France’s boutique also became a major source of inspiration for the owners, who wished to compose a similar atmosphere in terms of displays and colour schemes. They have achieved a charming revival of the classical styles of the 18th- and 19th-century French décors. The Jardin d’Hivers — winter garden — is a key feature in the home, bringing in an abundance of natural light. Aesthetically, this conservatory-style room is quite spectacular, glowing like gilded bronze at dusk. The room is a particular favourite of the owner, who says, “It brings a feeling of magical timelessness, inviting nature into our home.” The sofa, dating from the Louis XVI period, is upholstered in an original silk of floral decorations, bringing an eternal spring feel into the room, as well as a traditional flair of the “French grandes demeures”. This atmosphere is enhanced by the addition of classical features such as a gilded wood Louis XVI console and a central pedestal table in mahogany from the Restauration period. In the pursuit of authenticity no surface in the home has been forgotten, with boiseries (wooden wall panelling) and traditional marble cabochon (design in the flooring) incorporated into the core home design. Boiseries were popular in 17th- and 18th-century French interior design. This type of paneling is not only confined to the walls of a room but also used to decorate doors, frames, cupboards and shelves. The boiseries on the wall have been painted in a genuine Bleu Gris from the south of France and the French doors have been made in Australian native wood. A classic Napoleon III crystal chandelier takes its place above the cosy 19th-century white marble fireplace, sourced by Denis from a traditional Parisian apartment. It is the attention to detail in the collected furniture and objet d’art that gives this home a distinctively French feel.
The desire to create a stylised interior for everyday living has been fulfilled, with each piece of furniture serving both a functional and aesthetic purpose. Although there is nothing about the interior decorating they would do differently, the owners said, “We wish to keep adding new pieces, with layers of French antique treasures hand-picked at Unique France.” It is these gradual additions that will create a more lived-in depth to the already elegant décor. Due to the location of the home, environmental considerations had an impact on decisions made throughout the process — such as the choice of wood to create all the French doors and boiseries, the paint finishes, as well as the decision to install fire-screen doors. Town council approvals caused minor setbacks along the way, but in the end everything came together smoothly. The savoir faire, inspiration and encouragement from the Unique France team are what brought the owners’ dreams to fruition. A wonderful home has been created with genuine French design and décor.