In another inspiring timeless Euro decor roundup, I mentioned an epic house tour, and Chateau Domingue Timeless European Elegance is a French home tour (Chateau Domingue’s Ruth Gay’s Houston home) shared a few moons back. Today’s fantasy lesson for students of timeless European country style shall not disappoint!
(I just said SHALL, y’all. That can only mean things are about to get fancy up in here!)
Design: Pamela Pierce Source: Chateau Domingue Photos: courtesy of Chateau Domingue
Chateau Domingue Timeless European Elegance
Years ago, when proprietor Ruth Gay of Houston-based Chateau Domingue and her husband were building their Old World style home, they struggled to locate the precise construction materials they imagined for it. This hunt uncovered two things: a gap in the market and a personal passion to source one of a kind architectural elements and monumental antiques from Europe.
And that is how her business Chateau Domingue came to be a refined showroom for European garden elements, lights, furniture and also antique home-decor pieces.
Hello, Lovely Source of Timeless French Beauty!
I first learned of Chateau Domingue as a follower of Velvet and Linen when Brooke Giannetti sought materials for her timeless Ojai farmhouse, Patina Farm.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered the glory of the home you see here when Milieu magazine launched. What a feast for the senses! Elegant European influenced interiors by Pamela Pierce exploded on my radar, and the only prescription was MORE, s’il vous plait.
Let’s learn more about Houston-based Chateau Domingue with Ruth Gay’s breathtaking house tour! I can think of no better introduction than viewing its founder’s own personal use of reclaimed architectural elements and antiques from Europe.
Timeless European Country Dining Inspiration
Chateau Domingue Timeless European Elegance
European Country Decorating Sensibilities
How is this European country and French inspired home accessorized? One can certainly spy the authenticity of antiques, old stone, and French influence, but note also the feather-light airiness of the interiors.
The natural atmosphere and ethereal mood created by Pierce and Gay is a triumph. Here are a few ideas gleaned from studying this and other lovely French country interiors.
While we Americans often choose to accessorize in the name of “decorating,” a more European country approach reveres function and purpose.
Is the accessory useful? Can the piece be pulled into service? Does it provide storage for daily essentials? Will it improve over time? Is the quality fine?
Did you notice how casually and intelligently those open shelves in the dining room were used? Purposeful baskets, dishes, receptacles for flowers, and pitchers.
Such practicality may be Old World indeed, but it is a breath of fresh air to see it applied to modern life in Texas.
Avoidance of Filler
Many home decorators feel compelled to embellish walls with “interest” and fill shelves with dust-gathering pottery or decorative urns for “show.” Too often, such an approach results in a watered-down, mediocre look which lacks character.
Displayed collections can be powerful storytellers and sources of beauty in a room. However, over-accessorizing can be disastrous and vignettes criminally over-styled.
Of course exceptions exist. Pretty sparkly things placed upon shelves for the eye to behold are common in America.
Spacious American homes typically have plenty of dead space and shelves to fill, after all. However, a European Country or French approach to accessorizing can still inform us.
The approach seems more inspired by nourishing the soul with thoughtful, historical, and authentic gestures than creating moments of eye candy.
Hall & European Antique Doors from Chateau Domingue
Timeless European Country Bath Inspiration
One of a Kind Reclaimed Stone Imported by Chateau Domingue
Timeless European Country Kitchen Inspiration
Chateau Domingue’s Mission: Grandness + Simplicity
Timeless, European Country Inspired Decor Ideas
Guiding Principles…Not Secrets
Are there secrets to achieve a timeless, European country (including French Farmhouse, Tuscan and French Country) inspired decor look in your home?
Far too many articles online reduce a complex and multifaceted design style to a handful of steps or secrets. As a decor blogger, it is easy to fall into the habit since the attention span of readers has dwindled.
Timeless design and European country are broad categories so there is need for shorthand and summarization.
Guiding Principles to Consider
1, START WITH BEAUTIFUL BONES AND ARCHITECTURE…We certainly must save our pennies, for this principle, Francophiles!
Beautiful bones and architecture may be the steepest challenge depending upon your home’s age and style (unless you are a billionaire who is building new, or are fortunate enough to live in a farmhouse in Provence).
Yes, the bones are definitely a tall order; yet partnering with experts at Houston-based Chateau Domingue can make them a reality.
2. INVEST IN BEAUTIFUL EUROPEAN ANTIQUES AND FIXTURES…The acquisition of beautiful furniture and materials should not be done begrudgingly or in haste.
It should happen over time as you enjoy the design process which entails: travel, collaboration with seasoned professionals, brocante goodness and auctions as well as antique shopping!
3. DO NOT RUSH WHAT CANNOT BE RUSHED. A timeless, authentically layered, quality interior design plan takes time and quite often necessitates help from experts and designers.
We Americans tend to hurry everything. As we multitask and plow speedily through our days, we wonder why time seems to pass quickly.
There is much to learn from European and French culture and practices. Incorporating more European daily rhythms into our daily lives may indeed help us to savor the present.
Chateau Domingue’s Integral Missions
Authenticity & Context
As voiced earlier, we won’t be tempted to reduce a design approach as exquisite as the one taken here by Pierce and Gay, to a few steps.
There are HUNDREDS of steps (I’ll ask Ruth and Pam for the exact number…Ha!). Instead, let’s explore a few key points which may generate more questions and become a springboard for discussion.
In Pursuit of Authenticity
First of all, if we desire authenticity, we must firmly become anchored in the origin of European country and French farmhouse style. We should become familiar with the lovely landscape of rural France with its hills and valleys, of Tuscany and Umbria.
It isn’t about the work of this famous designer or that famous design house; but a journey into the history, fruits, and magic of the European countryside.
A Country French look, for example, has long established its enduring appeal. Its beauty and timelessness derive from its natural connection to the culture and character of the region. No wonder it is not so easily emulated, “scored,” or created outside of France. Most of us haven’t the patience, ma cherie!
Secondly, a European country inspired or Country French approach to home decor (which is often effortless, unhurried, and nostalgic) echoes a body of cultural ideals and values.
To understand the “why” of this approach remaining popular in America, we must delve deeper into European culture and history and then discern why it attracts a following.
Timeless Over Trendy
Thirdly, rather than follow trends and redecorate every decade (or season if you glance at influencers on IG!), traditionalists in the French countryside favor a timeworn look.
When you are after a similar look at home, antiques and reclaimed authentic materials are your friend! High quality pieces will increase in value over time and may become heirlooms.
Buy better and buy less applies as the look is rustic, elegant, simple, sophisticated, timeless, and never contrived or overwrought. See THIS STORY for a wonderful book illustrating the soulfulness of antiques.
Psst. Can you spot the kitty in this next image?
Charm & Mixology
Fourthly, there is often a sense of refinement in traditional European country or French Country homes where a masterful mix of old with contemporary results in cohesive and sensible interiors which also feel soulful and interesting.
Contemporary sculpture or a modern lamp may be paired with an ancient carved chest or clay pot. Slim steel windows complement age-old rustic design elements. The pleasing combination packs sophisticated charm.
Additionally, collected antiques and heirlooms impart a sense of rich historical character which simply cannot be purchased in a few clicks shopping online. (Although you can see some stunning examples available with a few clicks over to Chateau Domingue!)
Timeless European Country Essentials
An Evolved Elegance
Firstly, many Americans still opt for matching furniture sets which may fall from favor in style after only a few years. We’re often in a rush, and many shoppers are eager to cross objects off the list by visiting a showroom or two before calling it a day. Such a strategy is contrary to seeking “an evolved European Country look” which demands restraint and patience.
Matchy-matchy is certainly not ideal for a French farmhouse or Tuscan villa. Evolution takes time; as does patina, collecting, and also inheriting treasures.
Hunting down the just right piece is easier now thanks to the internet, but choosing the proper mix of pieces to create a cohesive timeless design STILL takes time.
European country and French country approaches to furnishing a home often appear intuitive, relaxed, and flexible; yet the care devoted to thoughtfully determining what stays and what goes comes from experience and seasoned design intelligence.
A simple yet refined elegance requires expert knowledge and a keen artful eye. Patiently getting it right the first time surely saves your sanity in the long run.
Rooms develop deepening character over time as we collect, purge and thoughtfully edit.
Do you suppose most European country home traditionalists ever ponder “ultimate goals” for their country interiors? It seems more likely that even with loose design plans, their rooms become what they should become!
Evolution can lead to lovely, functional, harmonious, timelessly elegant spaces appearing un-decorated, un-done, and un-involved with trends.
Purposeful & Flexible
Secondly, since many European country homes and French farmhouses are smallish and cozy, traditional and timeless country style leans more toward practicality.
Without walk-in closets and spacious pantries, furnishings must work in a variety of rooms. Out of necessity, they may be moved around to function as needs change. Since many French farmhouse furniture pieces are rugged, weathered, chunky, and indelicate, they age gracefully with time and use.
It’s easy to see the beauty of investing in fewer yet higher quality pieces which will work hard in any room in which they live.
Naturally Nature Honoring
Thirdly, the French love their gardens! Blooms are arranged quite casually. Akin to introducing fresh ingredients to recipes, fresh flowers have a way of elevating the “everyday.”
The French are so inspirational with regard to their approach to beautiful daily living and love of food as well as regard for fine art. Depending on the region, sunflowers, irises, and poppies are common flowers which flourish in the French countryside.
Timeless & Weathered to Perfection
Fourthly, since European country is a style which celebrates age and tradition, scratches, rust, and signs of wear are welcome. Shiny new, stained, or lacquered finishes frequently fall flat when paired with antiques and vintage pieces which have patina-ed beautifully. Even aged rugs work better in such settings.
The French don’t shop for a new rug when it has faded or frayed; nearly threadbare is fine until it is no longer useful. What a contrast to a very suburban American habit of growing “bored” with this rug, that accent chair, or that vase and replacing it with another from the strip mall before any wear has accumulated!
Choosing beautiful, high quality pieces (made from natural materials) which only grow better with age is a wise strategy indeed when putting together a room with the same timeless spirit.
The French country chandelier is one of the hallmarks of this beautiful design style, and twinkly candlelights add a rich romantic layer to interior design. Finishes on these lighting sources tend to be weathered wood or aged metals so antiques always look more beautiful than new examples. The sparkle of crystal from a chandelier can also juxtapose beautifully with more rustic and rugged furnishings in a Country French space.
A perfectly patina-ed lantern is no less charming!
Natural Colors & Styling Restraint
I love the pale palette often employed in European country and especially French country homes. Those faded creams, greys, blues, reds, and golds tell a story about: the countryside, the passage of time, natural light, understated beauty, and tranquility.
What does it mean to style effortlessly or with a light hand? I have already discussed over-cluttering shelves with filler, but there is certainly more to it.
The Country French way? More tolerant of wrinkles in fabrics, flaws in objects of all varieties, and imperfections related to furniture and finishes. A country house lends itself to more casual living than a house in the city where fancy dinner parties occur.
Once again, in terms of styling, function appears as a priority. A French country farmhouse is not a Parisian apartment or a Versailles-styled chateau.
Say Bonjour to Chateau Domingue
Chateau Domingue is an invaluable source for ingredients 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
and the unexpected.
Unexpected? Let’s just say you always dreamed of owning an authentic, French stone petite 15th century chapel…
I would bring you good tidings of great joy, proclaiming: YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A
SANTA CLAUS CHATEAU DOMINGUE since this remarkable chapel was in stock a few seasons ago…
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.
Chateau Domingue Steel Windows & Doors
I know you have seen custom steel windows and doors in some amazing homes, both modern and country, but where can you find such bespoke treasures? Oui, CD.
Chateau Domingue Wood Doors
Merci beaucoup, Chateau Domingue, for sharing a magnificent family home tour with us!
IN PERSON: 3560 W 12th Street, Houston, Texas 77008 and online RIGHT HERE.
If you have a moment, also visit this recent story packed with European country inspiring goodness!
Peace to you right where you are.
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