These days, I don’t typically relate to all-things-princess. The little girl inside of me, however, will forever hold the idea of living in a castle close to her heart. Located in Beaune, France, I’m pretty confident that this 18th century Chateau would more than do the trick. The juxtaposition of old and new, masculine and feminine, modern and classic, is unexpected, whimsical and so very on point. There is, of course, more in the gallery.
Lucky for us, we had the chance to pick Aymeric & Sonia brain. As owners AND designers of this stunning chateau, we were more than enthused to hear what they had to say:
SMP: Your design mantra?
Customize and mix different styles. Don’t stick to a single aesthetic. We made Chateau de Varennes look much livelier by blending different looks (such as contemporary and period furniture). Even the most contrasting of styles can go together if they are carefully combined.
SMP:Where did you draw your inspiration from for this amazing Chateau?
For us, the Chateau de Varennes had to become the new reference fairytale chateau for modern Cinderellas. So it had to combine the historic charm of traditional chateaus with a touch of modernity to please younger couples.
We purchased a lot of interior design magazines and we bookmarked the looks and the colours that we liked most. Our inspiration was very eclectic: from classical Belgian interiors showcasing different shades of greys to modern Californian villas adorned with magnificent pools.
The reception room in the Orangery was the trickiest part of the renovation project. We didn’t find any inspiration from other wedding venues in France. They were either too dark (cellars), too empty, or too old-fashioned with pompous decorations. So we decided to create our ideal reception room: an airy modern space filled with natural light but set in an old brick building. And the interiors were painted in neutral colors in order to fit with any theme or colour.
SMP: Ultimately, which room ended up being your favourite?
Unsurprisingly, our favourite room is the honeymoon suite! It was previously a dining room with very vivid colours (red and green!), and it was transformed into a magnificent boudoir mostly decorated in neutral shades and highlighted by a gold molding. It is the ideal room for our brides to feel like a princess during their preparations !
SMP: Each space has such a wonderful balance between old and new. Any tips on how you achieved this so effortlessly?
Our philosophy was to keep old things when they were worth keeping and twist them with a new touch to transform the chateau into a modern family home rather than keeping a dusty museum. We kept a lot of period furniture and revamped it with fabrics featuring modern patterns or colours.
We also changed the bathrooms’ design because they didn’t meet our clients’ standards. We also felt there was no point in trying to copy the 18th century style for things that did not even exist at that time. For example, showers are quite a recent innovation so we fitted ultra-luxury modern showers which give a sleek contemporary style to our bathrooms. At the same time we used precious materials (such as marble) to create a timeless look.
Keeping a good balance between old and new requires a bit of creativity (and some investment as most period furniture needs custom renovation and reupholstering) but adding some vintage pieces creates a unique style, which goes against the standard modern look that you can get in every high street. This also gives a timeless look to your decor.
SMP: Your number one design rule?
Harmony. The Chateau de Varennes was built in the 18th century at a time when architects were very sensitive to harmony. The large size of the property would have allowed us to try many different styles in each room but we wanted to retain an overall sense of harmony whilst mixing things that were from various periods or styles. In my opinion, all the other rules can be broken but forming a visually pleasing cohesiveness is very important when you mix contrasting elements (patterns, styles, colors…). This usually requires extra effort but it is worth removing things which don’t blend with the rest and investing in some other pieces that will make a big difference in the end.