Text by Jeanne Delathouder
Behold the elusive charm of the South, where resplendent homes dignified with rich architectural embellishments cry for interiors exuding a certain European sophistication—one that can only be achieved with a well-trained eye and a cache of exceptional antiques.
This lavish home, built with grand-scale proportions, soaring ceilings, expansive windows, inviting French doors, regal paneled walls, and elaborate crown molding, seemed to lend itself to a refined sense of style—and preferably, one that spoke in fluent French.
The walls, washed in quiet hues of cream, putty, and pale taupe, are offset by crisp trim in both ivory and white, setting the stage for a superb interplay of color and pattern in nearly every space. Bathed in opulence, the living area takes color cues from an exquisite rug that anchors the room in swirling shades of muted coral, sage, flaxen, and moss. The pristine clean lines of a pair of Directoire-style armchairs sit in perfect harmony with a smartly skirted green sofa embellished with dressmaker pleats. Pieces of antique French chinoiserie establish the impeccable sense of continuity that flows throughout this entire home, including a remarkable pair of painted panels hung over the sofa, an exquisite tray coffee table with gilded trim, and a matching pair of painted porcelain urns flanking the fireplace mantel.
A bit of surprise and a hint of insouciance—essentials akin to authentic French style—are perhaps most pronounced in the formal dining room, where the walls are covered with a vibrantly patterned red wallpaper. This decidedly exotic hue, inspired by the Far East, warms the space while paying homage to the underlying French chinoiserie theme. Museum-quality antique pieces—including an extraordinary burled walnut side cabinet adorned with a painted medallion, curvaceous Chippendale-style chairs, and an elegant round dining table with stunning marquetry inlay—create stoic juxtaposition while conjuring an air of distinction and nobility.
To counter the high formality of the public rooms, the homeowner was sure to provide relaxing spaces of respite, where a more casual country French style dictates the décor. In the study, breakfast nook, sunroom, and bedrooms, roomy overstuffed seating beckons. Rustic antiques combine with natural sisal rugs, sumptuous linens, casual plaids, and florals, as well as handmade painted ceramics to create places of sublime sanctuary. Each piece speaks from the heart of this lovely American home that finds respite in the comforts of French style.
Given the spectacular setting, this well-traveled homeowner has created a haven of soothing colors and patterns upon which she has layered a tableau of exquisite pieces collected over a lifetime.