In another inspiring timeless Euro decor roundup, I mentioned this epic house tour. Chateau Domingue Timeless European Elegance is a French home (Ruth Gay’s Houston house) 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 one thing. It is 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!
Timeless European Country Dining Inspiration
I can think of no better introduction than viewing its founder’s own personal use of reclaimed architectural elements and antiques from Europe.
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!
I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.
Peace to you right where you are.
Shop for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE, and also find home decor here to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!
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The house is beautiful and everything in it. But I thought, how would it be to live in it and cook a good meal? Would the kitchen be efficient? I love the work of Pamela Pierce and love her magazine but this house says to me that the home owner does not cook the meals or participate in cleaning it. Guess I’m one of those people that wants to know I am taking care of my home not other people.
Hmmmmm. Since we are not seeing Ruth’s entire kitchen and working areas (perhaps there is a scullery, pantry…), its efficiency for home cooks is a subjective matter. I could definitely work in this beyond gorgeous space and am ready to cook and bake up a storm! We are all unique – yes? Custom kitchens happily are not one size fits all. 🙂
Perhaps the family cooks and lives in a more European way, compared to most Americans. 😉 Let’s take a look at another point of view……
We Americans think a kitchen is small if we don’t have huge amounts of lineal prep space and tons of storage. And if we don’t have enough room to cook and have room for all our guests/family right there in the kitchen with us (or at least hovering near the island), then we think the kitchen is poorly designed. 😉
I saw in this kitchen all the ‘necessaries’ of a well-functioning kitchen: A good sized farmhouse sink along the wall by the window. A very upscale stove/oven, even a dishwasher (not a necessity but certainly a 21st century nicety), ample amounts of counter space, and a lovely wooden island for prep space as well. (I suspect a high-end refrigerator and microwave are tucked away somewhere out of sight.) Sealed stone floors? Can you get anymore ease to clean? 😉
Like Michelle, I could certainly cook a meal here…and would be quite happy to do the cleanup as well. 😉
Yes! I would happily be on cleanup crew here. It’s a dream of a kitchen. Since I have cooked in kitchens of all shapes and sizes, I am ready to bake baguettes here any day of the week! That sink and the bespoke everything…takes my breath away!!!!
Oooh what a treat for the eyes on this lovely Sunday morning!
Yes, to be able to design a home in this style would be quite lovely indeed! To be able to actually acquire pieces with authenticity would be for many of us……well, but a dream. In the meantime, we search for those things that have purpose and beauty even if they are reproductions or DIY transformations.
This home is so lovely, so quiet, so real. Because this home is not filled to the brim with ‘stuff’, one can see each stretch of wall, each lovely window, each thoughtfully chosen piece of furniture, each pretty basket, vase or flower arrangement and appreciate each for themselves. Having all this ‘rest for the eyes’ is so crucial. I agree: Americans often ‘overfill’ our spaces just because we can. 😉
A while ago I was going to paint a dining table I have. I asked for assistance from my French friend who lives in Brittany. When I asked “What color would work best for my northern French country look?” she was totally confused. She said “that is not a term used in France” and had to look up what Americans think of when using French Country. I giggled over that one! 😉
Call it French country, Country French, European. Call it old, weathered, time-worn. Whatever it’s called, I call it beautiful.
Great discussion, friend. And great story! I am quite sure the French get tickled with us and our interpretations of what comes so naturally to them. Language is so limiting at time – oy, don’t I know it!! While Ruth’s home is a fantasy – each space has so much to teach about timelessness, authenticity, quality, and soulfulness. I agree with your point about being able to see the bones – the windows, etc. Who could cover such treasures?
Did you paint that table?
Yes I did. Based on her description of colors, I painted it BM French Canvas…a very very light greenish gray… to get the proper color. It looks quite fetching with the white painted bistro chairs, all second-hand finds. 😉
Love it. I’m going to look at French Canvas on my fan deck – the combo sounds heavenly. 🙂
Thank you for sharing such beautiful and dream home inspiraation! Your blog is special…….Happy day to you.
It’s wonderful to have you here – so happy you’re inspired! 🙂
I can see why your radar exploded Michele! It’s just so romantic. Now I may have to paint a mural for my dining room ❤️
Yes, you do!!! But could you come here first and paint a mural anywhere and everywhere your heart desires? xox
Thank you for this post. I appreciate the research, time, and love you put into it. I am so inspired! While I am not sure if the French or any particular region thinks their home style has a name, I’m glad to know we Americans can use a term (of endearment actually) like French Country to identify what we hope to achieve in our spaces. If I could clad my sheetrocked walls with authentic stone, that would be amazing. But since I can’t, I can still apply plaster, or a limewash product to achieve an old-world look. It may not be completely authentic, but it’s authentic enough to give me all the old-world feels. Thanks again for the inspiration. My artisan wheels are spinning with ideas. And yes….if you can get Holly Irwin to paint you a mural, I think you’ll be the luckiest gal around. Have a great day!
Thank you for adding to the beauty here and for reading. I’m so happy you are inspired. I know the French get tickled by us. So often design language is inadequate for capturing what is essentially so naturally beautiful and timeless, words simply get in the way! (Full disclosure: I have to use terms like “French country” or “European country” for search engine purposes so folks searching for inspiration will find such posts. So I’m not as ditzy as I sound at times. Probably. Ha!)Yes to plaster – I’m crazy about such finishes. I actually did my own version – mudding our kitchen ceiling and hall ceiling. What a messy job when it’s done by moi. 🙂 How am I going to get Holly to Chicago!?!
Between your art and hers, I swoon. And please keep posting your amazing research. It’s all so LOVELY !
You’re too kind. Thanks for the support, friend. 🙂
And, to think this beautiful home is right here in HOUSTON !!
Thank you for this wonderful blog post. Certainly, we all know of Pamela Pierce and Ann @ Chateau Dominque, but to actually see the inside of her home is a real treat. I completely agree with the lack of clutter. Negative space, space without anything, is a dream most of us do not understand. And, I also agree that the piles of matching replica jars, containers is hideous. I don’t want anything in my home to be a replica. This home is truly a labor of lave and a treat for all of us to see.
Your energy and enthusiasm for this exceptional home is so fabulous, Marsha! How fortunate you are to be living where the most beautiful minds in design are creating and where so many special country French homes exist. I raise my glass to your beloved Houston – I would love to live in that blessed place!
While I certainly appreciate the great work and artistry that went into this beautiful and very authentic feeling home (American versions of French or European Country are always too “clean” and perfect, a little sterile, if you know what I am trying to say), as a European with roots in France, I am concerned about wealthy Americans going to Europe and removing all that history, dismantling French or other European buildings of age and patina to adorn their privileged homes with “authenticity”. It scares me a bit, I have to admit.
This is such a lovely home! Can you tell me what the fireplace in the dining room is made Out Of? It looks to me like limestone? It is just devine!
It is an antique reclaimed stone fireplace from Europe – an example of the one of a kind imported pieces the Houston business, Chateau Domgingue, is known for. The homeowner is the owner of Chateau Domginue!
My tongue was hanging out while reading this. This is the most beautiful, serene space I have ever seen.
Hahaha – happy to have you here absorbing the lovely! 🙂
If you can afford to live that way and in those surroundings you don’t need to cook or clean, someone will do it
for you. Beautiful simply beautiful.
Hahaha – I wouldn’t mind being hired for the job in this glorious home! 🙂
simply beautiful and great
Thanks for reading. 🙂
I love so many things in this beautiful home. I am most interested where to find chairs like the 2 Robin egg blue slip covered chairs in the office. I do not know of any resource for this “perfect cozy down reading chair, I have been looking for quite some time. I see many Howard and Sons chairs in English interior magazines but no resources here in the US.
It’s true! This home (belonging to Ruth Gay with interiors designed with Pamela Pierce) has antique and custom furnishings so it’s tricky to emulate it. While there are no readymade examples that immediately come to mind, Rachel Ashwell designs similar chairs and the quality is very high: https://shrsl.com/2m6u3 I suppose the trick is to first find chairs and then seek a good sewer who is willing and able to sew a slipcover with the darling ruffles. I do love how the femininity of the ruffles works with the rustic textures and rugged bones of the house!
I did see these white linen beauties on 1st Dibbs – gives you an idea of cost: https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/seating/wingback-chairs/pair-of-slip-covered-linen-wing-chairs-ruffle-skirt/id-f_11692531/
Just wondering–why do you show the same photos multiple times on your posts?? Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I love your blog but don’t understand this.
Probably an unintentional error – it’s just me, one person with no staff juggling the many tasks and trying to keep up. 🙂
Oui oui! Thanks for visiting. 🙂
IMAGE HAVING ALL OF THIS ELEGANCE AND A SELF CLEANING OVEN AS WELL, ALONG WITH AIR FRYER, VITAMIX, AND A LAUNDRY MACHINE AT ALL SETTINGS.
Pretty lovely combo!
What an absolutely beautiful post. Thank you! I’m starting to make linen curtains, recovering furniture in natural and bleached linen, and Am in love with this understated classic look. I grew up with the mantra “less is more”. I love your website. Michelle!
So happy to have you here with your lovely spirit of creativity and eye for beauty! I will never tire of seeing the timelessness from Chateau Domingue, Ruth Gay, and Pamela Pierce. Houston is indeed an amazing pocket of lovely!
Such a beautiful, educational and inspirational post! Sure made me think! Loved all the photos and so very much appreciate intentional, authentic, patient and timeless design.
Thanks so much for visiting and for the kind words, Nancy. So happy to have you here.