Anyone pining for Paris might find it hard to believe that someone lucky enough to reside in the City of Lights would ever want to leave. But when summer calls, casting off for points elsewhere is practically de rigueur. For some, that means a trek to Málaga or maybe Tangier. And Parisians aren’t the only ones making a beeline for the beach. Holidays are sacred in France, no matter where one lives, and come July and August, everyone, it seems, closes shop and hits the road.
Living in Bordeaux, interior designer Joanne de Lépinay doesn’t have to go far when les grande vacances roll around. For her, escape is just over an hour away, at Cap Ferret, a windswept spit of land facing the Atlantic. A country cousin compared to the glitzier Cap Ferrat farther south, it has long been home to fishermen and oyster farmers and although vacationers from Bordeaux began arriving in the 1950s, it retains much of its laid-back charm.
A modern house built in the 1960s – which she shares with her husband, a Cap Ferret native – de Lépinay’s getaway is a true oasis centered on an interior garden. Orchestrated by de Lépinay herself, this space is spun around a small pool lined with blue zellige tiles, handcrafted from natural clay in Morocco. The patio, paved with bricks in a dusky rose color and laid in a herringbone pattern, is outfitted with lounge chairs and a dining ensemble and bounded by palms, with bougainvillea and jasmine dispersed about in large pots. Relatively compact but abundantly green, this courtyard is an expertly layered environment, one equally conducive to quiet contemplation or merriment. And the couple don’t even mind keeping it up. “It is a pleasure for us to prune and maintain it,” shares de Lépinay. “It is even a source of meditation and relaxation.”
The house itself – completely revamped – follows de Lépinay’s abiding interest in mixing colors and incorporating various styles while bearing in mind the personality of place. Here, that meant installing a board and batten treatment that echoes the look of the local oyster huts, while decorating with pieces that reflect the couple’s travels, with Moroccan, Asian and English influences in evidence. In the living room you’ll find a rug from the Philippines, an antique opium bed (refreshed with white lacquer) serving as a coffee table, and a bargain-hunted armchair upholstered in a Colefax and Fowler floral print. Shades of green, pink, blue and purple pervade the home, from a lavender sideboard in the dining room to the seaweedy green walls of a passageway equipped with a built-in daybed. Wallpaper plays a key role in de Lépinay’s scheme, too.
A custom botanical pattern dances across the dining room and a tropical scene – rendered in a grisaille style – backs the bed in a guest room. A much-used retreat for family and friends, de Lépinay’s Cap Ferret getaway seems just about right. Fanciful in its eclecticism, authentically informal, joyful in its judicious use of color, it is perfectly tailored for days enjoying the sun and sea breezes and nights under the stars, far from the nine-to-five.
Photography by Cécile Perrinet-Lhermitte.
For more like this Cap Ferret home, be sure to check out this easygoing and eclectic home in Milan.
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