My French fancy! Step inside the French farmhouse of Vogue’s former fashion director Lucinda Chambers
- Lucinda Chambers has holidayed with her husband Simon and their three sons for the past 22 years at her 19th-century former farmhouse in Toulouse
- 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 saw it in an estate agent’s window, I’d probably have walked by,’ says Lucinda Chambers, with typical British understatement, of her 19th-century former farmhouse in Toulouse, at which she has holidayed with her husband Simon and their three sons for the past 22 years.
The property’s simple exterior gives no hint of what waits inside. Chambers, a former Vogue fashion director and co-founder of fashion emporium Collagerie and sustainable label Colville, confesses that when it comes to décor, she ‘loves everything’. As such her home is a warm cornucopia of maximalist brocante finds that reflect her magpie tastes or, as she says, ‘where I like to go freestyle’.
In the sitting room, geometric rugs complement wicker chairs and mirrors, and elsewhere there are mismatched ceramics, beaded bottles and throws from local second-hand stores. Red-andwhite-striped fabric is a leitmotif that has been woven in as curtains, cushions and tablecloths. She laughs: ‘I’m unfussy. I wish I was more hard-nosed but I like stripes, pattern, Moroccan influences and objects found on my travels.’
In the sitting room, patterns rule, from the Indian kantha textiles covering an Ikea sofa to the striped rug bought at a Swedish garage sale. Chambers created the ottoman by attaching a block covered in dip-dyed linen to vintage legs from Ebay. The mirror is from maisonsdumonde.com
It was a stroke of serendipity back in 2000 that led to her and Simon acquiring their French getaway. During dinner at a friend’s home in London they learned that mutual acquaintances, Cindy and Richard, were selling their house in Toulouse. ‘Thirty-five years ago, I’d had a little homeware shop in London’s Shepherd’s Bush 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 sounded so romantic, and the house had stuck in my head. So when we knew it was for sale, we flew out the next day.’
In the kitchen, vintage chairs are dotted around a table that belongs to the previous owners. A rug from a pound shop in London adds a pop of colour, as do the bright woven carafes from a local second-hand store. For a similar chandelier try curiousa.co.uk
Chambers was thrilled to discover that everything in the house was being sold, too: the duvets, the hats on the wall, the car. ‘That’s how I sold it to Simon – I told him we wouldn’t need to buy a thing!’ A couple of decades later, only the kitchen table and an ashtray remain.
The first thing she did when she moved in was paint the attic space white and enlarge the outdoor terrace, adding oversized pebbles to the flooring. She then built what she refers to as ‘Nando’s’, a outdoor kitchen where everyone cooks.
Striped fabric from London’s Portobello Road has been made into curtains for the hallway, for similar try ianmankin.co.uk. The hats belong to family and friends who regularly come to stay. For a similar rug try frenchconnection.com
Chambers’s appetite for a decorating project is something she attributes to her mother. As a child, she moved every 18 months, though always staying on page 50 of the 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, take down ceilings. I suppose, like her, I’m good with my hands.’
Of her Toulouse house, Chambers concludes it is ever-evolving, ‘a very up-and-down dale’ and also like a Tardis that sleeps ten. ‘I’m always adding things, bringing stuff from London, traveling with inappropriate luggage and wearing lampshades on my head.’
- For further information visit collagerie.com