The American interior designer buys a neoclassical Loire Valley château and transforms it into an exquisitely aristocratic, exceptionally livable home away from home In 1781 the surrounding village, built mostly of wood, was destroyed by a fire that started in a bakery. The chatelaine, Louise Pineau de Viennay—a daughter of the residence’s original owner, Jacques Pineau de Viennay, Baron de Lucé, a state councillor under Louis XV—supposedly sheltered the townspeople in her splendid outbuildings while she had their homes and shops reconstructed in tuffeau, the region’s creamy white limestone. Eight years later, when the revolution came, not only was the lady of the house spared (her generosity surely remembered) but so were Grand-Lucé and its treasures, among them a room full of rare chinoiserie murals.
When the Los Angeles–based Corrigan discovered that the 45,000-square-foot property was being sold by the French government, the building’s neoclassical glories had been dimmed by centuries of paint and decades of benign neglect
Corrigan’s new book, An Invitation to Château du Grand-Lucé (Rizzoli), explains. “There was no heat and little electricity,” recalls the designer, who left a successful career in advertising in 1997 to follow his passion for decorating. Still, stumbling across Grand-Lucé was a coup de foudre. “It had such a luminous feeling,” says the Francophile, who previously restored two venerable country residences in this part of the world, one in Normandy, the other near Angers. “You could tell it just needed to be brought back to life.” “I didn’t want the place to take itself too seriously,” the designer says. “We’re not in a museum. The message is, we’re just having fun.”
To read the entire article pick up the October issue of Architectural Digest.
Visit leestanton.com to see similar inventory from the French Château.