My French Fantasy! Step inside the French farmhouse of former Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers
- Lucinda Chambers has been holidaying with her husband Simon and their three sons for the past 22 years in her former 19th-century farmhouse in Toulouse.
- The former fashion director has styled the house with inspiration from her travels
- Her appetite for a decorating project is something she attributes to her mother
It’s really nothing from the outside, like a child’s drawing of a house with a door and windows on either side. If I’d seen it in an estate agent’s window, I’d probably have passed,” says Lucinda Chambers, with typical British understatement, of her former 19th-century farmhouse in Toulouse, in which she has been vacationing with her husband Simon and three sons for the past 22 years.
The simple exterior of the property gives no hint of what awaits inside. Chambers, a former Vogue fashion director and co-founder of fashion emporium Collagerie and sustainable label Colville, confesses that when it comes to decor, she ‘loves everything’. As such, her home is a warm cornucopia of maximalist brocan finds that reflect her whimsical tastes or, as she puts it, ‘where I like to go freestyle’.
In the living room, geometric rugs complement wicker chairs and mirrors, and elsewhere there are mismatched ceramics, beaded bottles and throws from local thrift stores. Red and white striped fabric is a leitmotif that has been woven into curtains, cushions and tablecloths. She laughs: ‘I’m disobedient. I wish I was more stubborn, but I love the lines, the pattern, the Moroccan influences and the objects found in my travels.’
In the living room, patterns rule, from Indian kanta textiles covering an Ikea sofa to a striped rug bought at a Swedish garage sale. Chambers created the ottoman by attaching a block covered in painted linen to old legs from Ebay. The mirror is from maisonsdumonde.com
It was a quiet stroke in 2000 that earned her and Simon their French getaway. Over dinner at a friend’s house in London, they learned that mutual acquaintances, Cindy and Richard, were selling their house in Toulouse. “Thirty-five years ago, I had a small homewares shop in Shepherd’s Bush, London, called Swallows and Amazons. Cindy had come in one day and bought a rag rug, saying it was “for the blue and white room in Toulouse.” It looked so romantic and the house was stuck in my head. So when we found out it was on sale, we flew out the next day.’
In the kitchen, vintage chairs are arranged around a table that belonged to the previous owners. A rug from a pound shop in London adds a pop of colour, as do brightly woven carafes from a local thrift store. For a similar chandelier try curiousa.co.uk
Chambers was thrilled to discover that everything in the house was being sold, too: the quilts, the hats on the wall, the cars. “That’s how I sold it to Simon – I told him we wouldn’t need to buy anything!” A couple of decades later, all that remains is the kitchen table and an ashtray.
The first thing he did when he moved in was to paint the loft space white and enlarge the outdoor terrace, adding extra pebbles to the floor. She then built what she refers to as ‘Nando’s’, an outdoor kitchen where everyone cooks.
Striped fabric from London’s Portobello Street has been made into a hallway curtain, to try similar ianmankin.co.uk. The hats belong to family and friends who regularly come to stay. For a similar rug try frenchconnection.com
Chambers’ appetite for a decorating project is something she attributes to her mother. As a child, she moved every 18 months, although she always stayed on page 50 London AZ (around Knightsbridge) and her mother decorated each new house in a different style, from rococo to ultra modern. “She was incredible – she could build dry stone walls, put up wallpaper, knock down ceilings. I think, like her, I’m good with my hands.’
Of her home in Toulouse, Chambers concludes that it is ever-evolving, ‘a lot up and down’ and also like a Tardis that sleeps ten. “I’m always adding things, bringing things from London, traveling with ill-fitting luggage and wearing lampshades on my head.”
- For more information visit collagerie.com