Picture the visual sensations of the fashion runways in Paris, each couture ensemble more arrogant, strident, elegant than the last. Feather boas, stark geometric patterns, plumed hats, monochrome palettes splashed with a dazzling hit of color.
Ask passionate French fashion designer Christian Lacroix to dress an intimate luxury hotel situated on the famed Left Bank. The result is simply breathtaking. And not for the faint of heart.
While visiting my son Max, who is studying photography in Paris for a year, I took the opportunity to spend a night at Hotel le Bellechasse. There is a story behind every carefully executed wall finish and color switch. Lacroix has taken the exotic luxury of his world of fashion – the textures, colors and whimsy – and poured them into the ambiance of this tiny hotel. In his words, “A hotel must reflect the character of the locale in which it stands, giving its own interpretation of the town, the district, the street it is open to.”
Situated in middle of the Faubourg Saint Germain district, the hotel is surrounded by antique dealers, the Orsay Museum, art and exhibition galleries, and faces the Louvre. The district represents the arts, and all the drama and high life it incorporates. With that kind of inspiration feeding Lecroix’s interior design, anything was possible.
The fourth-floor bedroom shown here is named Discovery, which describes one of the experiences a guest would be pursuing in this rich, cultural area. Sitting under a rounded roof, the room is playful and abstract, where oversized butterflies and dragonflies appear to float over a tight black-and-white grid. Primary colors are exciting and youthful, a well-chosen backdrop for a child’s inquisitive mind.
There are several unique styles displayed throughout the hotel. Contemporary combines gold leaf on walls and ceilings with Pompeii-style fresco and blown-up photographs. The rustic “Tuileries” shows off large stripes, folk motives in black and white, and trompe l’oeil renderings of small palms and china. You can see the colorful decor on their website, www.lebellechasse.com.
You might ask, “How does the opulence on the West Bank in Paris translate to my little living room?” In our own homes, whether they are large or small, it is worth thinking about constructing this sense of place. The building’s architecture, the neighborhood or countryside may be what inspires you to live there. Do some research into the history of your building and area; are they famous for anything? How did people live 50 or 100 years ago? Perhaps you live in a brand-new home or condominium, and rather than history, you are motivated toward the future and what it will contribute to your world. Either way, this geographical approach to decorating is a good starting point. It will provide a theme, or a color palette, some inspiration on which you can build. And you may also want to inject a little whimsy into one room in your home. Could be the guest bathroom, or rec room.
There is beauty everywhere if you know where or how to look. Urban dwellers are surrounded by bricks and stones, high-density housing and skyscrapers. Amid this manmade, hard-material environment are colorful street bazaars, tiny parklands and the proud facades of historic buildings. The country home shares the luxury of the landscape. Earth, plants and trees, rivers and lakes – open space spills out with all the textures and shades anyone could ask for. Why not create a living environment that blends with the best of your community?
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Debbie_Travis. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com.