house tour: a very English designer retires to French village life

37D08CEA-3E75-4D74-B485-C473CC70805EImogen Taylor’s retirement home in a medieval French village is inspiring not only because of the lovely home that is the final product but also because of how she approached the redesign project.

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The story, told by Elfreda Pownall, photographed by Gavin Kingcome, and featured in House & Garden Magazine, is about “the most English of decorators” and principal designer at the prestigious Colefax & Fowler for thirty years, finally having her own house in the countryside and how she set about “doing a design job on it.”

And yet, for a house done by a woman who has spent a lifetime decorating, it does not have an overly decorated look at all. Instead, it looks warm and inviting and real. You can imagine a lovely retirement life there. And you can imagine being a guest who longs to extend her stay.

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One of the things that I admire the most is Taylor’s regard for the local vernacular. I think this is an important aspect in design that is often overlooked.

Being on what she called a “perfection road,” she photographed local architectural details to get it right. She designed and imitated floors and windows and doorways so that the house was in keeping with the style of the ancient village.

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I also like how her chosen palette—warm earth tones—compliments the bones of the house so nicely.

She used terra cotta tiles found in the attic to create a new kitchen floor, and she mixed the limewash herself—a soft apricot that unifies the small, rather choppy house and changes hues throughout the day.

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Finally, she filled the little house with a carefully edited selection of antiques and fabrics and art, many from her Colefax & Fowler days, like her desk and the gold patterned wallpaper (now out of production).

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Her bedroom, papered and draped in a GP & J Baker classic blue toile de Jouy with a door to step into the garden is a dream!

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Apparently the house spoke to Taylor upon entering the first room, the salon. And I think this connection is what we see and feel in the rooms themselves. And what makes them such a charming, chic blend of English and French country styles.

Please go here to read the article and to find out even more about this interesting lady and her house…

Cheers!

 

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