Re­mem­ber­ing his­tory through dec­o­ra­tion

The Southern Gazette - - Saltwire Homes - Deb­bie Travis House To Home House to Home by the one and only Deb­bie Travis de­liv­ers quick wit, on-trend ad­vice and the ba­sics of clas­sic in­te­rior de­sign.

The abun­dant cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences, and the heady spirit of ad­ven­ture that reigned in 19th cen­tury France, cre­ated a unique at­mos­phere that will al­ways be cel­e­brated. A tu­mul­tuous time in his­tory be­came the back­drop for one of lit­er­a­ture’s most fa­mous char­ac­ters. The Count of Monte Cristo, penned by Alexan­dre Du­mas, is a French clas­sic that is still be­ing read all around the world. The char­ac­ter of the Count, aka Ed­mund Dantes, closely matched the reck­less­ness, folly and pen­chant for trav­el­ling that was Du­mas’ life­style.

When I was young, I didn’t read the book. How­ever, my ini­ti­a­tion into the story was equally as com­pelling as I watched weekly episodes of The Count of Monte Cristo on black and white tele­vi­sion. I was spell­bound by the ac­tion, the fear­less jour­neys and the brav­ery of this hero amidst the tur­moil of a re­bel­lious France. When I dis­cov­ered that there was a ho­tel in Paris called the Monte Cristo, I had to in­ves­ti­gate.

The ho­tel is a trib­ute to the 19th cen­tury in Paris as rep­re­sented by Du­mas. Res­i­dences of the day were flam­boy­ant, show­ing off riches with deca­dent up­hol­stered fur­ni­ture and win­dow dress­ings draped in jewel-hued vel­vets and pat­terned satin bro­cades. Ho­tel Monte Cristo’s rooms have each been treated to lav­ish de­tails that re­flect a cross­sec­tion of the era’s trends that in­clude a marvel­lous mix of themes that cap­ture the essence of ro­mance, travel and lux­ury. The bed­rooms are in­spired by the Ori­ent; Asian styled lanterns, room screens and dec­o­ra­tive vases bring travel to mind. Rich pur­ple hues, mar­bled pat­terns and dark wood pan­els are se­duc­tive choices you can uti­lize in your own home.

Award-win­ning artist Christoff De­buss­chere “knows how to cap­ture the light and cre­ate the am­bi­ence of by­gone cen­turies.” His tal­ented hand is seen in the painted mu­rals, por­traits, wall can­vases and ceil­ing in each room. The tran­quil scenes de­picted in the mu­rals have be­come pop­u­lar again in to­day’s homes, where na­ture’s om­nipresent beauty is shown off in­doors to keep us con­nected by day and night.

Wall­pa­pers de­pict­ing pas­toral scenes wrap around a room and, as seen here, be­come a lyri­cal back­ing for book­shelves. Leav­ing the back off a book­case gives added di­men­sion and in­ter­est to the ar­ti­cles you have on dis­play.

When em­bark­ing on your dec­o­rat­ing story, it can be help­ful to work around a theme. It can be a spe­cific era that in­trigues you, or a colour mix that pleases you. This gives you a start­ing point that you can build on over time. Take favourite hob­bies or life­style pas­times into con­sid­er­a­tion us­ing pho­tos, art­work and or­na­men­ta­tion as illustrati­ons. In the 19th cen­tury taxi­dermy was a pop­u­lar trend; stuffed and mounted an­i­mals and birds were of­ten part of a room’s dec­o­ra­tion. This pen­chant for pre­serv­ing wild life is part of the ho­tel lobby’s stun­ning dec­o­ra­tion. To­day it might be pho­tos and me­mora­bilia col­lected while trav­el­ling.

CHRISTOPHE BIELSA

This se­duc­tive bed­room in Ho­tel Monte Cristo echoes the lux­ury and cos­mopoli­tan style of 19th cen­tury Paris.

CHRISTOPHE BIELSA

Pe­riod style wall­pa­per con­tin­ues be­hind the shelves to liven dis­plays of books and an­tiques.

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