Layered with memories, this sprawling family home—a principally eighteenth-century chateau, with some earlier seventeenth-century and later nineteenth-century additions, in France—was inherited from the client’s grandfather. “It hadn’t been touched since the 1950s,” she says. “I chose Tino because I felt he would upgrade the house without sacrificing the spirit.”
Although the brief was to keep the big, rambling country house atmosphere and imply that little had been done, the project actually took three years. “It was a much bigger job than we expected,” says the client. “We ended up gutting the entire place.”
Working with the architect Sebastien Desroches, Tino Zervudachi restructured the entire chateau by changing floor levels, turning a servants’ hall into a kitchen, altering the old stables into a playroom, and converting an old staff wing into more guest rooms, with dressing rooms and bathrooms, demonstrating how the concept of traditional comfort has evolved.
Occasionally, Tino encountered pleasant surprises, such as some beautiful eighteenth-century beams hidden behind several layers of later ceilings. He also had to edit the client’s grandparents’ vast collection of objects and art. “Tino did a fantastic job,” says the client. “A real skill, the rooms look like they had always been like that.” Local artisans—unused to Tino Zervudachi’s exacting standards—caused the occasional setback. However, the ever-tenacious designer succeeded and won praise from the client’s family. “Their attitude was, ‘You didn’t just improve it, you literally made it better than it was,’” she recalls.
Extracted from Tino Zervudachi: Interiors Around the World by Natasha A. Fraser, published by Flammarion, £55.