A respectful renovation of a Belle Epoque villa pays homage to the “Beautiful Era”.
A respectful renovation of a Belle Epoque villa pays homage to the “Beautiful Era”. Step into the grand and rustic ground of this luxurious French property.
High in the hills between Nice and Antibes, in Vence on the Cote d’Azur, is a Belle Epoque villa that boasts a colourful past. It was the former home of two English artists and the one-time residence of the Dowager Duchess of St Albans. The almost century-old villa is surrounded by a sprawling, 42,625sqf garden – a rarity, considering its edge-of-town location.
The gardens were left intact as the previous owners had transformed the original hillside terraces into a cascading lawn, adding new plants and mature palm trees. But the interiors, designed by David Price Design, required extensive work. “When we’re lucky enough to work
on a really beautiful house like this, my approach is always to be very respectful. It’s never about erasing everything and starting from scratch, but retaining and enhancing the existing beauty,” says Nina Laty, the consultant head of interiors.
As the original house had a lovely feel, but the interiors were slightly heavy and stifling, the client — a Franco-English couple and two young children — requested a fresh update with judicious injections of colour and pattern, she says. So, she added discreetly a number of elements, such as tiles and colourways.
When it came to the structure of the 2,961sqf villa, Nina retained the elegant fascia, classic shuttered windows and cast-iron balcony. However, she reconfigured its floor plan on the ground and first floor, to optimise efficiency, circulation and light, as well as to address the lifestyle needs of the homeowners.
The kitchen and dining room are housed in an annex to the right of the main house. “This was subtly increased in size, and large glass folding doors and a window were added to maximise natural light and allow easy access to the garden,” explains David Price, founder of the design firm. The staircase is located at the heart of the house, and its bottom section was remodelled from an angular form to a more organic and curvilinear profile that is more elegant.
The David Price Design team have managed to give this Belle Epoque villa a new lease of life, and for the client, a charming home that references tradition without being stuck in the past.
LEFT This three-storey, six-bedroom villa is like a slice of Eden, with its charming architecture and idyllic landscape.
The living room is proof that simple works best, with modest stone flooring and blue wood panelling. Two Maries Corner armchairs pick up on the blue hue in a pastel shade, while a bespoke stone fireplace and a chandelier add a touch of grandeur.
LEFT, BELOW A south-facing pool is another one of the villa’s prized features.
LEFT The unusually expansive garden for a property in this location is well-manicured and its landscaping enhances the sloping terrain.
BELOW The dining area accommodates seating for six around an oak-topped Versailles Oval table. It extends into the kitchen, which continues the same uplifting ambience, featuring bespoke pastel blue joinery designed by David Price Design, and blinds in a “Springtime” fabric by Christopher Farr Cloth.
LEFT A quiet outdoor corner surrounded by mature foliage.
BELOW, LEFT The first guest bedroom features a bespoke cast iron four-poster bed, but in a different shape from the one in the master bedroom. Nina chose curtains in a Casamance fabric for their “soft, abstract, almost Monet-like pattern, which perfectly frames the view text LYNN TAN photos HERVE HOTE out and over the garden, as well as brings a feel of the garden into the room”.
ABOVE The attic was previously an artist’s studio, which was transformed into the children’s dormitory. It is now a clean and light-filled, whitepainted space with brightly coloured bed bases, pillows and lamps.
BELOW, RIGHT The quirky entrance to the attic space prepares visitors for a fun and delightful experience.