French Garden House An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé

Source: French Garden House

Author: Liddy Baars

By LIDY | Published: APRIL 10, 2014

For all of you who dream of owning a chateau in the French country side….this gorgeous book is for you.


An Invitation to Château du Grand-Lucé is the story of a passionate love affair between a man, award-winning Los Angeles based interior designer Timothy Corrigan—and a gorgeous wreck of a house, set in the magnificent French countryside. The chateau, a monument historique in France’s Pays-de-la-Loire, was a gently crumbling shell of its former 18th century beautiful self when Timothy first saw it in 2002. The designer fell head over heels in love, and petitioned the French government for a year and a half for the right to buy the house and return it to its original use as a private residence. Against all odds, the Commission decided in favor of his plan which would keep the château intact, and, in 2004, Timothy Corrigan became the new owner of Château du Grand-Lucé.


Duke Jacques Pineau de Viennay, Baron de Lucé, who oversaw eastern France under Louis XV, had the château constructed in 1760. It was created by engineer Mathieu de Bayeux, and was completed in 1764. The King’s housewarming gifts were seven sculptures that were exact replicas of ones in Versailles. During its early days, the château welcomed Voltaire, Diderot and other luminaries of the Enlightenment. The owner’s influence was able to prevent damage to the château during the French Revolution as were subsequent owners during two World Wars, sparing it the destruction suffered by so many historic buildings. About 30 acres of formal gardens and 42 acres of forest surround the château. A small village lies beyond the property’s greenery.


What I love most about the chateau {besides the obvious} is that while each room is superbly detailed, elegant and highly individual, it is neither stuffy nor too formal. The interior is the perfect combination of decorating with heirloom quality antiques, but each room, the whole of the chateau, looks as if it has been this way for centuries, livable, comfortable. The designer has created an environment where people can really feel at home. A place where children and dogs are welcomed, where family and friends can gather, and laughter fills the rooms.


The initial major restoration took approximately five years, with meticulous and ambitious work from the ground up, as you can imagine! Timothy was able to accomplish the perfect combination of authentic Gallic flavor with the relaxed elegance he favors, Continental elegance with California comfort. The end result is stunning, to say the least.


The Grand Salon overlooks the château’s gardens, which were restored by the French government and are open to the public six times a year. Timothy mixes antiques with large scale sofas and chairs, for comfort, so that the rooms are perfect for today and the way we live. Somewhat more casual and less “precious” than what one would normally expect to find in a chateau that has been called one of the finest examples of neo classical architecture in France.


In the grand salon, knole sofas anchor the sitting area, the table lamps next to the sofa are repurposed 19th-century gilt-wood colonnettes, and the cocktail tables are vintage Jansen.


Above, a detail showcasing a delightful mix of darks and lights, angular and more organic forms, and a touch of fun.

Timothy Corrigan says his favorite room is the Salon Chinois {the Chinese room} where Jean Baptiste Piment, the King and Marie Antoinette’s own master painter, carried out work. Corrigan says: “There are only three rooms existing in the world today that were painted by this man – this is one of them. All the paintings are what they imagined life to be like in China.” A terra-cotta bust of Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry is the focal point of the marble mantel, mounted ostrich eggs ornament a side table, and a 19th-century tole tray transforms the velvet ottoman into a cocktail table.


In the photo below, an 18th Century German marquetry cabinet sits below a gilt Napoleon III mirror. Reflected in the mirror are the hand painted murals surrounding the room by Jean-Baptiste Pillement.


Each room is filled with glorious treasures, and with beautiful light. Below, antique Creil earthenware plates are displayed above the kitchen’s marble mantel. I love the antique copper pots on each side, this surely is a magical space to create haute cuisine, or a simple omelet in the morning.


The publisher, Rizolli Books describes this gem of a design book as: “A tale of architectural adventure and interior decoration, with a soupçon of French history, and finally, a gratitude-filled celebration of country living in the pastoral beauty of rural France. An Invitation to Château du Grand-Lucé offers a window into living in an historic home in a modern way, and will be the must-have book for all Francophiles and design enthusiasts.”

By Timothy Corrigan
With photography by Eric Piasecki
contributor Marc Kristal
Hardcover / 9” x 12” / 240 pages / 250 color photographs
All images: copyright protected: Eric Piasecki

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