Le château d’Ailly
This exquisite Design “moment” speaks so strongly both visually and conceptually to the viewer because it stays true to both the magnificent interior of the Chateau, while at the same time, beautifully conveying the personality of its owner & Designer, Gerard Tremolet. The hand painted monkey motif on the walls are done by Tremolet himself, the daybed is Louis XV, the sconce is 18th century, and the rug is a handwoven Iranian piece…all items in the Chateau were found by Tremolet, who loves to scour all of France for his treasures.
GÉRARD TREMOLET’S Home & Hotel in Normandy
While perusing the luscious and essential Design resource ELLE DECOR online, I came across the magnificent, larger-than-life and simply spectacular home of Fashion & Design Provocateur, Fashionister, Muse, Hotelier and Interior Designer, Gerard Tremolet. Tremolet (an Artist in haute couture) had been searching for the perfect country home when he stumbled across Le château d’Ailly located in the Normandy region of France. The estate hadn’t been inhabited for five years, had no running water, wiring dated from the invention of electricity, serious water damage to the walls, mushrooms and moss growing from the magnificent stone walls and stairs, deterioration to the wooden structure… to name a few things, YET needless to say, it was LOVE at first sight. What followed was a massive restoration of love in which Gerard’s partner, himself, family and friends worked on the Chateau to not only to restore it, but to bring it back into its full glory and imbue it with his own love of life. Gerard then opened the Chateau to the public on Bastille Day, 2011…. The Chateau is not only his private residence BUT ALSO an exquisite boutique hotel.
How often do we say “I live in an old home” or “I live in a historic home”… usually meaning our home is maybe 100 years old. Ponder this for a moment... The Château d’Ailly dates back to 1050 AD, with the last major exterior renovations taking place in 1721. THAT MEANS THE CHATEAU IS 952 years old!!!! Now THAT is a house with a history! Prior to Tremolet and Barré purchasing the Chateau, it had remained in the hands of a single family with the ownership shifting through deaths, marriages and falls of fortune for centuries. This concept of a home with such a long family tree or lineage is almost completely alien here in North America. Tremolet calls the interior Design of the chateau his “fantasy world” with hand painted murals (done by Tremolet himself), the usage of exotic materials, sumptuous fabrics for curtains Tremolet sewed himself, glorious furnishings he refurbished himself and upholstered mixed with family objects, collections and a stunning and varied collection of paintings. In essence, the Chateau acts as a stage for Tremolet’s wonderfully eccentric life, while showcasing his passions and his love of his extended family.
I loved in the ELLE DECOR article where he speaks of how he wanted to “incorporate my memories of great Hollywood movies and stars: Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette; Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra; Claudette Colbert; Etorre Scola’s Le Nuit de Varennes.” Bold, passionate and beautifully eccentric/eclectic … the Chateau is truly a spectacle to be savored and enjoyed.
This main floor hallway has the feeling of a Tableau Vivant from Mapp and Lucia…The mirror is 18th-century Venetian and the hand carved console is as well 18th-century; the armchairs are Régence, and the candelabras are antiques found by Tremolet on his scouting tours.
The Renaissance style doors into this spacious guest room (which were painted by Tremolet himself) give the space a theatricality that is both bold and somehow in keeping to the age and character of the mansion. The marquetry-inlaid secretary is Napoleon III (I ADORE the beauty, craftsmanship and Artistry of this piece) and was found by Tremolet on one of his countryside antique safaris, while the carpet is a handwoven Iranian piece found at an antique market.
I adore the French sensibility of this space… things are grand, glamourous and powerfully visual…but not fussy, precious or contrived. There is a natural flow of space and the architecture is allowed to speak freely with the actual materials acting as part of the colour palette. A 19th-century bust rests on the hand carved 18th-century pillar with a 17th-century flagstone-paved hallway.. a literal Rock of Ages.