Years ago, proprietor Ruth Gay of Houston-based Chateau Domingue was building this amazing home with Old World style. However, securing antique construction materials and reclaimed architectural pieces from Europe for the project was a challenge. Turns out it was a fortuitous challenge since she uncovered a gap in the market. A business opportunity emerged to source one of a kind design elements and monumental European antiques. Mastering Elegant Rustic Refined European Country Style tours an unforgettable home and explores European inspired design underpinnings.
Mastering Elegant, Rustic Refined European Country Style
Let’s revisit our house tour of the unforgettable home of Ruth Gay!
Design: Pamela Pierce Source: Chateau Domingue Photos: courtesy of Chateau Domingue
Ideas for Capturing European Country Design
A European country inspired approach seems less concerned with shopping for eye candy and more concerned with nourishing the soul with thoughtful, natural, authentic gestures with purpose.
1. Aim High for Authenticity
Notice how Ruth Gay’s European Country French home is accessorized. It is difficult to believe this home is new construction thanks to authentic antiques, ancient stone, and imported materials. But look again. There is also an airy ethereal mood with help from pale plaster walls, creamy limestone, and muted painted furniture.
2. Welcome a Wealth of Natural Goodness
Incorporate as many natural materials as possible. The natural materials used in the construction of the rooms contributes to the character, quality, and mood of the decor as well. Beautiful, well-earned PATINA is everywhere in these interiors–from the wood planked ceilings to the aged stone and furnishings.
3. Accessories Should Work Hard
Expect more from the accessories incorporated into the mix. What many Americans mean by “decorating” is placing accessories they think enhance the anchor pieces in a space. However, it’s a more European country sensibility to include only functional pieces that have purpose and happen also to be good looking. Is the accessory useful? Can it be pulled into service? Does the piece have potential to store essentials? Will it stand the test of time? Is it high quality and multi-functional?
4. Aim for Quality Accessories
If you are used to accessorizing seasonally, consider a shift toward more timeless pieces of higher quality. Note the open shelves in Ruth Gay’s dining room and the quality of the collected objects upon them. You’ll see there are purposeful baskets, dishes, receptacles for flowers, and pitchers. While it could be costly to possess all of these pieces in one fell swoop, think about investing in one at a time.
A more European inspired sensibility eschews mediocrity and aims for high quality. But that doesn’t mean we have to purge every mediocre decor piece! Rather, we can slowly upgrade and delight in having less but better.
5. Say No to Excessive Filler
Who likes dusting a busy shelf? It is one thing to enjoy a collection and quite another to fill every tabletop in the name of “interest.” Excessive filler can impart a diluted, mediocre effect which lacks character and quality.
While massed collections can make a profound impact in a room, they can also cause sensory overload. Over-styling feels contrived and unnatural whereas an “underbaked’ (I learned that from interior designer extraordinaire, Tom Scheerer) can be just right.
6. Consider Room Dimensions When Building
American homes are typically more spacious than European counterparts. If you’re determined to achieve the charm of those European country interiors you admire, bear in mind it’s trickier within sprawling square footage. If you’re building a home, think about room dimensions and ceiling heights and how it might affect the intimacy you’re after.
Rustic Yet Refined European Country Inspired Decor Ideas
Guiding Principles…Not Secrets
What is the secret to a rustic yet refined European Country French inspired design plan for your home?
There is no chance I am going to wax on about the 1-2-3s of French country decor or quick and dirty steps to score the look since that would be silly. Yet we can study, observe, and learn from the masters to notice a few guiding principles which run like a common thread through beautiful approaches to European Country decor.
1. Begin With the Bones & Architecture
Hang on to your wallets because I am kicking off this list of principles with the steepest challenge! Beautiful bones are decidedly a tall order, and that’s precisely why partnering with an expert such as Houston-based Chateau Domingue is a blessed privilege.
Tour a 16th Century manor house to get a feel for the architecture.
2. Happily Invest in European Antiques
Importing and collecting beautiful pieces, art, and fixtures should not be done in haste. Enjoy the hunt and give yourself time to enjoy the process with travel, collaboration with experts, shopping brocantes, attending auctions, and antique shopping!
3. Don’t Rush It
A rustic yet refined, authentically layered, timeless interior design plan takes time and most likely necessitates help from experts and designers. Americans are prone to feverishly rush and plow ahead, and we’re often rewarded for hustling as fast as we can.
We have so much to learn from European and French cultures and practices. Who knows how we might prosper by incorporating more of wise European daily rhythms into our daily lives to more fully savor the present and the process.
When you are seeking a similar look, antiques and reclaimed authentic materials are your friend!
Tour a 17th Century property in Cologne to get into the spirit!
Overview: Chateau Domingue
Chateau Domingue is an invaluable source for the ingredients one needs to create timelessly authentic, European country inspired interiors. Ruth Gay sources the following 15th to 19th century architectural elements and monumental antiques from Europe:
Doors & Windows
as well as the unexpected
Unexpected? Let’s say your dream was to own an authentic, French stone, petite 15th century chapel…well, I’d bring you good tidings of great joy and say: YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A
SANTA CLAUS CHATEAU DOMINGUE!
This remarkable petite chapel was in stock a few seasons ago…
Chateau Domingue Doors
Where else can you find such bespoke treasures!?!
Domingue Architectural Finishes
Creating a timeless look for interiors can often be achieved with beautiful plaster and wall finishes, and Chateau Domingue also offers Domingue Architectural Finishes. With 140 colors (developed by Eve Ashcraft) for lime wash and mineral paint and 12 shades for plaster, the options for executing a “just right” finish are vast.
My heart is happy and full of gratitude to Chateau Domingue and its lovely curator, Ruth Gay, for sharing her family’s home with us. Do pay them a visit:
IN PERSON: 3560 W 12th Street, Houston, Texas 77008 or online.
Peace to you right where you are.
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