Joanna MaclennanWelcome the Luberon-–la France profonde. The mythic France of your imagination. This is the heart section of Provence, which stretches over rolling hills into fields of lavender. It’s also dotted with old stone villages that have been forgotten by time. Red poppies, olive trees and purple skies at night are some of the things you will see. Although the Luberon isn’t a fancy spot like the Cote d’Azur, it is luxurious. The most elusive luxury is tranquility.
Patrick Frey, an interior designer, and Lorraine Frey, his wife have made Luberon their home. Patrick is the founder of Pierre Frey’s firm, which designs traditional fabrics and carpets as well as furniture. The couple created a sanctuary and refuge in a stone house built over 100 years ago that belonged to Lorraine and Pierre Frey. It combines the rich colors and textures of Provence and some family-owned touches.
From the living room, a tinted concrete staircase leads to the second floor. The Philippe Hurel sofa, in Pierre Frey fabric is found in the living room. The iron table and straw lamp are also vintage. Lorraine states that the house is a maison payanne at its core. “It was a farm in its beginning.” Patrick concurs. He says, “We have done it in a minimalist style but it isn’t fragile or precious.” It’s what I consider a true home. It’s modern and colorful, which is great because we love color. But it’s timeless.”
You can see throughout the house that it is made of ancient stone. The structure was built to withstand the mistral, which is the cold blast of arctic winds that blows down from the north. It provides warmth and protection, as well as cooling the house depending on the season. Lorraine says that the house is built with strong walls. That’s what gives it its charm. Patrick demanded that air conditioning be prohibited in this house, even during the scorching heat of summer.
Pierre Frey fabrics are used for the curtains, pillows and custom daybeds in the sunroom. Vintage side table. Johanna de Clisson took the photographs. Joanna Maclennan Patrick’s passion is textiles and fabrics. They bring life to this style. For example, in the living and dining rooms, white walls are complemented with wooden furniture and fabrics in different shades of green. There are sofas in mint and curtains in sage in the living room. A wooden dining table is also available in this color and is surrounded by wicker furniture. It creates an impromptu elegance.
As one would expect, textiles bring life to a house. Patrick says, “I used only linen, cotton and pique–things which are very natural.” We played a lot with color and used old hues to keep as much charm as possible. The ceramics are rustic and painted. It’s all intended to be a little out of time when taken together.
Placemats and cushions in Pierre Frey fabrics are arranged on a dining table with chairs and placemats. The chandelier is made from wrought iron.Joanna MaclennanUpstairs the bedrooms retain a calm feeling: again, white walls, but with bed designs in Pierre Frey’s more playful patterns, such as those in mustard yellow, magenta pink and even a red tile. The furniture was designed to be a tribute to the region and to remind you where you are. Lorraine says, “We started a collection Provencal fauteuils-always elegant.” Provencal furniture is best if we’re in Provence.
The house’s stunning garden is outside, keeping in line with the Luberon’s wild landscape. The gardens are not maintained, but they are kept in their natural state. Patrick tends the olive trees: “We grow our own olive oil here-just for the family. We have them all come down every November to get the oil that we make.
The original stone vaulted ceiling is featured in a sitting room. The Pierre Frey custom sofa is made in a Pierre Frey fabric. The Pierre Frey chairs were designed by Guillaume Delvigne and the Julie Prisca console was created. Hans Silvester took the photograph. Joanna MaclennanOne his favorite spots on the property was the open-air area next to the pool. It was built in original stone and featured a huge banquette that is covered with a translucent canopy that falls from the ceiling. Patrick says, “It’s a spot where you can take your nap after lunch or read books.” It’s our own radassier.
It is fitting that the word radassier comes from an Old Provencal word which means “to chat”. Conversation is an important part of the Freys’ art of living. Patrick states, “We have many grandchildren and children.” “This house is a family home, and it’s very happy.”
This story first appeared in the May 2022 issue ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
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