RUS­TIC CHARM

A re­spect­ful ren­o­va­tion of a Belle Epoque villa pays homage to the “Beau­ti­ful Era”.

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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.

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