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Step Inside a French Farmhouse Where (Painted) Horses Run Free


In Luberon, a mountainous region in central Provence, France, a centuries-old house sits on a plot of land that sprawls nearly 136 acres. Farm animals roam the grounds, newly planted with local species like pollarded plane trees, wild grasses, and olive trees. (The residents make their own olive oil.) A decade ago, local legend Alexandre Lafourcade renovated the farmhouse, bringing it into the 21st century. But after the homeowners were stuck there during the first of several pandemic lockdowns, they wanted to give the serene interiors a bit of a revamp. When they called on the Paris-based, Peruvian interior designer Diego Delgado-Elias, he remembers, “The house was very interesting, but it didn’t have much of a soul. It was missing details and materials.”

To create a spirit for the stunning country house, Delgado-Elias started there, following his clients’ single bit of advice: “More material; less color.” Walls were given a rough plaster finish—one was covered in woven raffia. All the standard, 10-centimeter baseboards were removed and replaced. “Little things like that gave the interior a bit more grandeur,” explains the designer, who realized it all in an elevated, earthy palette, heavy on hues like ivory and praline. Built-ins were devised for the library, baths, and even the radiator covers. The kitchen got a luxe travertine island and matching light fixture.

To root the rooms to their surroundings, the designer looked to local artisans working with the materials of the land, namely wicker and rattan. Provence-based firm Atelier Vime constructed wicker valances for several sitting rooms and Editions Midi produced a handful of woven-seated dining and armchairs. When Delgado-Elias commissioned decorative painter Elvira Solana to add visual interest to the staircase and walls around the house, she looked to the grounds for inspiration, letting the horses, wild boars, and olive trees from the property find their way into her whimsical imagery.

Lucky for Delgado-Elias, his clients gave him, more or less, carte blanche. Their one request was a rather practical one: since the pandemic, they needed more space for working remotely. The designer was happy to oblige, adding desks and long tables with seating at every opportunity. “They needed to be able to work from different places in the house,” he explains. “You can sit and read some emails here then grab a coffee and sit somewhere else, take a call and walk around the house.”

The project was a venue for him to explore some ideas he’d been tossing around for a while. Some early experiments in lighting, made of cast iron and leather cord and inspired by medieval French fixtures, became lamps, chandeliers, and sconces throughout the house. He also took the opportunity to tap Peruvian artisans in the Andes to realize a large tapestry for the dining room, inspired by the paintings of Salvatore Fiume. Such statement pieces mix in with a fleet of rustic, French antiques, a handful of contemporary Russian designs by Soha, and a collection of pieces from the utility-oriented Art Deco era movement, the Amsterdam School.

For the property beyond the house, Delgado-Elias hired landscape architect Gianmatteo Malchiodi to hone the grounds which, Malchiodi says, “achieve a feeling of wilderness and a relaxed sense of nature.” The interiors, you could say, follow a similar script. As the designer explains, “Everything in the house has a certain texture—rough, handmade, artisanal.”


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