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California Home with Provençal Style

Vintage materials and a commitment to quality make a new home feel centuries old—in a good way

Written by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer
  • Richard Powers

    Irvine, California, may not be the first locale that comes to mind when referencing Provençal-style architecture, but that was hardly a deterrent for Gerald and Theresa Alexander. One peek at the cornflower-blue shutters, terra-cotta tile roof, and nuanced stonework of the château-inspired home they share with their two children, and you’ll swear you’ve been transported to the lush, rolling hills of Provence—minus the jet lag.

    The home was inspired by Château des Alpilles in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. 

    Architectural designer, and builder: Rob Glass, Glass Residential Group, 2461 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 522, Santa Monica, CA 90404; 949/910-0328, glassresgroup.com.
    Interior designer: Ohara Davies-Gaetano, Bliss Design Firm, 3321 East Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, CA 92625; 972/740-5273 and 949/566-9390, blissdesignfirm.com

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    Provençal Style

    That’s due much to the vision of builder and architectural designer Rob Glass and the inspiration he drew from a visit to the Château des Alpilles—an early-19th-century manor house turned hotel—in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. 

    “Rob has a keen eye for truly making a home feel soulful and not too new,” says interior designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano, who worked alongside Glass to execute Gerald and Theresa’s concept. “This house conjures emotions of being in a place far away.”

    Wall treatment: custom.
    Bench: custom.
    Demilune: owner’s collection.
    Mirror above demilune (“Rectangular Mirror” #MR-7105-L); corbels holding candles (“Acanthus Wall Bracket” #WD-4303 and “Regency Wall Bracket” #WD-4322); wood fragment on wall at right (“Soleo” #WD-5006): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Hanging light (“Loire” #4009): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Planters:
    Poterie de la Madeleine, poterie.com

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    Hall

    Those emotions lean heavily on reclaimed materials—Dalle de Bourgogne stone, antique flooring, hand-carved doors, 19th-century limestone fireplaces, and vintage door hardware—chosen by Glass and used throughout the home. Authenticity was the cornerstone of the home’s architectural design, with no detail overlooked. Even new elements like the interior plasterwork were painstakingly crafted to re-create the look and feel of 19th-century Europe.

    Limestone, reclaimed beams, and French doors create a dramatic space. 

    Console table: custom.
    Mirror above console (“Saxony Mirror” #MR-7133): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.

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    Great Room 

    “Gerald and I love the comfortable, homey feel of older Provence-style homes,” Theresa says. “This is a large house, but it doesn’t feel palatial because of the Old World materials Rob chose. It has a warm, inviting feel.”

    When it came to the home’s softer edges, Davies-Gaetano was enlisted to translate the Francophile vision into textiles, color schemes, furnishings, and artwork. The palette is appropriately Provençal, with varicolored shades of that region’s ubiquitous blue strategically introduced throughout the home—from the welcoming shutters to the slightly richer jewel tone on velvet-clad armchairs, sofas, and tufted ottomans. 

    In the great room, linens play off rough-hewn beams and coarse Dalle de Bourgogne stone walls. A pair of custom-made wool rugs in neutral shades simultaneously complement and soften the stone walls. A gilded cloud formation over the antique limestone mantel plus elegant side tables add polish while a pair of low-slung armchairs dressed in a dusty blue fabric provide color against the backdrop of the large-scale fireplace.

    Designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano incorporated subtle shots of blue on the armchairs as counterpoints to the stone walls and neutral linens. 

    Chandelier (“Palma” #2139): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Sofa: custom.
    Sofa fabric (“Twinbrook” #34403): Clarence House, clarencehouse.com.
    “Key” pillows on sofa: Dransfield & Ross, dransfieldandross.biz.
    Throw: Bliss Design Firm, blissdesignfirm.com.
    Table beside sofa (“27-inch Round Side Table” #D89-5329-BR): Century Furniture, centuryfurniture.com.
    Fauteuil facing mantel (“Arnot Arm Chair”#SE-3007, discontinued): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Fauteuil fabric (“Sanders”/Teal Taupe #1037d-S0630): Stroheim, stroheim.com.
    Small table beside fauteuil (“Gilded Iron Table with Straight legs” #ST2009M): Tara Shaw, available through cottagechicstore.com.
    Pair of chairs: custom.
    Chair fabric (“Don’t Fret”/Blue Chip): Gretchen Bellinger, gretchenbellinger.com.
    Round table beside chair (petrified wood stump); crystal cluster on cofffee table: Bliss Design Firm, blissdesignfirm.com.
    Coffee table; chest behind sofa: custom.
    Trumeau above chest: antique.
    Art on chest: owner’s collection.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.
    Planter beside mantel: Poterie de la Madeleine, poterie.com.
    Mantel: limestone.
    Wall art above mantel (artist in south of France made the piece from designer’s 18th-century Italian fragments): custom.
    Candle sconce by door (“Painted Tole Sconce” #1120): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.  

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    Daybed

    “It’s not too bold but bold enough. Not too pale but not too strong,” Davies-Gaetano says. “Washed-out textiles were paired with more exaggerated tones, all the while with a sense of quiet as the underlying theme.”

    To accentuate the home’s natural materials, textures, and grand dimensions, furnishings and fabrics were kept intentionally subdued. The result is elegant and refined. 

    Instilling a sense of assembled history into the house was one of Davies-Gaetano’s aims: “Since the architecture and the construction of the home were executed so well—truly creating the feeling you were in a home in the South of France—I wanted the decor to really feel like a collection of items, both new and old, collected from various parts of the world.”

    Daybed: custom.
    Daybed fabric (“Foxton”/Oatmeal #J475F-01, by Jane Churchill): Cowtan & Tout, cowtan.com.
    Throw: Adrienne Landau, adriennelandau.com.
    Pillow on daybed (“Poiret” #PL-4031): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Round table in front of daybed (petrified wood and lucite/acrylic table, product line varies); table beside daybed (agate and lucite/acrylic table, product line varies): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.  
    Blue lounge chair: custom.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Peyton Linen”/Willow #2008144.13): Lee Jofa, leejofa.com.
    Table beside lounge chair (petrified wood stump, product line varies): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Bergère beside piano: custom.
    Bergère fabric (“Brigadoon”/Doon #92525-04): Rogers & Goffigon, rogersandgoffigon.com.
    Piano: owner’s collection.
    Large painting: Paul Montgomery Studio, paulmontgomery.com.
    Planter beside painting: Poterie de la Madeleine, poterie.com.

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    Worldly Office

    That worldly theme carries throughout the house, layering global elements against a strictly Provençal backdrop. The beautiful patina of an 18th-century Gustavian grandfather clock warms the home office.

    A Gustavian grandfather clock holds court under reclaimed beams. 

    Chandelier (“Tuscany” #2013): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Desk; wing chair; wooden-armed chair: custom.
    Wing-chair fabric (“Mirador”/Foliage #890006-01): Rogers & Goffigon, rogersandgoffigon.com.
    Armchair fabric (“Halcyon Herringbone”/Corn Sik #10748): Calvin Fabrics, calvinfabrics.com.
    Drapery (“Dupont”/Caper #1005-02): Kerry Joyce, kerryjoyce.com.
    Photograph on bookcase: Vito Schnabel, vitoschnabel.com

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    Dining Room

    In the groin-vaulted dining room, seemingly disparate objects create a cohesive space. A delicate yet impactful chandelier adds a hint of romance and tames the arched ceiling and overscale custom table. Abstract art—offering the room’s only infusion of color—flanks antique carved doors that lead to a wine cellar. 

    Dining table; dining chairs: custom.
    Chair-seat fabric (“Marcello”#AG-1030): Ebanista, ebanista.com.
    Chair-back fabric (“Tela Damasco”/Sandstone): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Chandelier (“New Tassel Chandelier” #2119): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.
    Cabinet; mirror above cabinet: custom.
    Stone bowl on cabinet (Spanish pot, finished in Rottenstone): Elegant Earth, elegantearth.com.
    Pewter tureen on cabinet (“Beaded Round Tureen” #A529.0): Match, match1995.com.
    Art to left of door (by Nick Gaetano): owner’s collection.
    Door (Indian): antique.
    Art to right of door (print found in France): vintage.
    Drapery (“Metallic Bird”/Aqua #5571, by Rose Cumming): Dessin Fournir, dessinfournir.com.

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    Intaglios

    “We collected items from travels across France, Belgium, Northern Italy, and Spain,” Davies-Gaetano says. “The melding of pieces from so many locales furthers the historical quality of the home while incorporating modern elements for everyday living.”

    Antique intaglios hang above a carved console table from Bliss Studio.

    Console (“Ribbon Console Table” #TA-4220): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Intaglios: antique.
    Light (“Dover Hanging Lantern” #4029): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.  

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    Kitchen

    Much of that living takes place in the family’s stone-clad kitchen, where French farmhouse collides head-on with modern America. Woven rush stools gather around a large island ideal for family time and homework. Cabinets with a gesso finish merge with limestone walls. Materials—from the Parefeuille floors to the aged Massangis limestone counters-—add a lived-in quality that suggests another place and time. 

    The limestone walls, gesso-finished cabinets, and Parefeuille floors practically glow in the California sunlight. 

    Hanging lights over island; bar stools: custom.
    Backsplash behind range: antique fireback.
    Range: Lacanche, lacanche.com.
    Faucets; pot filler faucet; dishwasher; microwave; wall oven: Glass Residential Group, glassresgroup.com.

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    Family Room

    “I love the fact that this home feels inviting, warm, comfortable, elegant, and refined,” Davies-Gaetano says. “It was done with perfect respect to the past and present.” 

    That comfortable elgance is evident in the family room where deep sofas beckon lounging.

    Drapery (“Serano”/Sepia on Camel #HB3-10): Le Gracieux, legracieux.com.
    Drapery hardware: Helser Hardware, helserbrothers.com.
    Mantel; terra-cotta vessels on mantel: antique.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.
    Hanging light: custom.
    Wing chairs at mantel  (based on antiques in France): custom.
    Wing-chair fabric (Mohair/Paprika): Michael Jon Designs, michaeljondesigns.com.
    Pillows on wing chairs: Rogers & Goffigon, rogersandgoffigon.com.
    Trim (“5/8-inch Agra Diamond Border”/Limestone #977-43097-06): Samuel & Sons, samuelandsons.com.
    Planter in corner: antique.
    Daybed: custom.
    Daybed fabric (“Luxembourg II”/Lichen #7047-9369): Castel, castelmaison.com.
    Coffee table; sofa: custom.
    Sofa fabric (“Vendome”/Flaxen #34479-1): Clarence House, clarencehouse.com.

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    Gracious Landing

    Framed botanical mix with sconces to lead the way up the grand stairs.

    Hanging light (“Elite Royale Hanging Pendant” #4078); wall sconces (“Two-Arm Knuckle Sconce” #1003-A): Paul Ferrante. paulferrante.com.
    Botanicals (custom, by artisans in south of France): owner’s collection.

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    Master Bedroom 

    In the master bedroom, a sophisticated mix of furnishings and a quiet palette play against a breathtaking view that, if one squints, could almost be of French vineyards and fields of lavender. “We told Ohara that we wanted muted colors—blues, taupes, and ivories,” Theresa says. “She created this space that was exactly what we wanted, peaceful and serene.” 

    A palette of blue, green, taupe, and ivory plays against the rolling hills visible from the balcony. A custom four-poster, a chandelier from Paul Ferrante, and Cowtan & Tout draperies enhance the home’s Francophile vibe. 

    Bed: custom.
    Bed drapery (“Riviera”/Cream, discontinued): Steven Harsey Textiles, harsey.com.
    Patterned pillows, at front: (“Morris Pillow” #PL-2300-IVO/GLA) from Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Duvet (“Giverny”/Lago #6117-41, by Leitner); dust ruffle (“Moldau”/Lago #6216-41, by Leitner); tan pillows (by The Purists ); celadon pillows (“Teresa”/Lago, colorway discontinued #6211-41, by Leitner); bed linens (“Classic”/Cloud, by Legna): S.D.H. sdhonline.com.
    Bedside tables: custom.
    Table lamps (“Carved Italian Vessel Lamps”): Bliss Studio, blissstudio.com.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.
    Drapery (“Mottram”/Aqua #F3602-03, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout, cowtan.com.
    Chandelier (“Monica” #2153): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Sofa: custom.
    Sofa fabric (discontinued ): Clarence House, clarencehouse.com.
    Throw: Sefte, sefteliving.com.
    Upholstered chair (“Maison Love Chair,” by Zentique); round table (“Bliss Studio Z Stool”/Gold): Bliss Home & Design, blisshomeanddesign.com.
    Small round table holding antique vase (“Tony Table”): Oly, olystudio.com.
    Wicker sofa on terrace (“Havana Deep Seating Curved 3-Seater Sofa” #2610W in Willow finish): Gloster, gloster.com

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    Master Bath 

    Paired with the intricately carved limestone mantel, dark herringbone wood floors, and rough-hewn beams, the soft scheme adds just the right mix of femininity and verve. In the master bath, the juxtaposition is radically apparent; a heavily patinated exposed ceiling lined with antique roof tiles playfully opposes an elegant tub with a polished finish.

    Rough-hewn beams and exposed antique roof tiles pair playfully with a cast-iron tub and its polished finish. 

    Bathtub: Cheviot Products, cheviotproducts.com.
    Drapery (“Mottram”/Aqua #F3602-03, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout, cowtan.com.
    Stool in front of tub (“Lorraine Hand Carved Solid Linen Stool” #DR2040, discontinued): Arteriors, arteriorshome.com.
    Armless chair (“Anatole Side Chair” in burlap #GCHA149WEA, discontinued): Noir, noirfurniturela.com.
    Art above chair (by Patrick Young); sconceschandelier: owner’s collection.
    Vanity; mirror: custom. 

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    Home Theater

    Navy velvet upholstery covers the variety of seating options in the media room. 

    Love seats in back row; tufted storage ottomans: custom.
    Fabric: Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Pillows on love seats (“Caron”/Pecan, Blue #10911/03, cut velvet, discontinued): Cowtan & Tout, cowtan.com.
    Gold pillows (“Ribbed Rows”/Honey): Beacon Hill, beaconhilldesign.com.
    Chairs in second row (“Swivel Chair” #1367-01SW): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.  
    Wood tables (“Fyn Side Table Base #2686-10 and “Fyn Box Top” #2686-17): Hickory Chair, hickorychair.com.
    Beanbag chairs: owner’s collection.
    Wall sconces (“Paris Sconce” #1029): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.

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    Masculine Bar

    A lower level bar is convenient to the home theater or a quick game of billiards (next slide).

    Bar stools: owner’s collection.
    Dining table: custom.
    Dining chairs (“Gunnison Chair” #5700-23): Hickory Chair, hickorychair.com.
    Wood bowl on dining table: antique.
    Carpet (“Dominican” #DOC-1000): Surya, surya.com.
    Sofa: owner’s collection.
    Table beside sofa (“Dovetail Palermo Side Table”): Candelabra, shopcandelabra.com.
    Tufted lounge chair (“Gabriela Tufted Chair” #5401-22, by Alexa Hampton): Hickory Chair, hickorychair.com.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Cotton Club Velvet”/Fawn #55282): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Coffee table: owner’s collection.

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    Billiards Room

    Blliard and foosball tables provide fun for all ages in this rustic room. A window provides a look at Gerald's car collection (next slide).

    Billiard table: Blatt Billiards, blattbilliards.com.
    Pair of lounge chairs (“Swivel Chair” #1011-01SW): Lee Industries. leeindustries.com.
    Lounge-chair fabric (discontinued): Calvin Fabrics, calvinfabrics.com.
    Table between chairs (“Ludlow Coffee Table,” discontinued): Currey & Co., curreycodealers.com.
    Leather sofa (“3-Seater Sofa, Vintage Cigar Leather”#LEA8856-3D): Noir, noirfurniturela.com.
    Art to left of television (“Elephant Ears” discontinued): Natural Curiosities, naturalcuriosities.com.
    Horse art: owner’s collection.
    Game table: Blatt Billiards, blattbilliards.com.

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    Incredible Collection

    Paul Ferrante chandeliers illuminate the incredible car collection in the garage.

    Chandeliers (custom): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Crests:
    antique

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    Patio Area

    Organic materials—a Belgian bluestone table and wicker chairs from Gloster—anchor the outdoor seating area. 

    Wicker chairs  (“Havana Deep Seating Arm Chair” #307W, Willow finish): Gloster, gloster.com.
    Cushions, pillows, trim (“Hopsack”/Sand #965-23): Perennials, perennialsfabrics.com.
    Table (Belgian blue stone): owner’s collection.
    Hanging lanterns (“Dover Hanging Lantern” #4029): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.

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    Pool Terrace

    An antique mantel adds panache to the seating area. 

    Wall lanterns (custom “Loire Wall Lanterns” #4009-A): Paul Ferrante, paulferrante.com.
    Mantel: antique.
    Wicker sofa (“Havana Deep Seating Curved 3-Seater Sofa” #2610W, Willow finish); chair (“Havana Deep Seating Arm Chair” #307W, Willow finish): Gloster, gloster.com.
    Chair cushions and pillows (“Hopsack”/Sand #965-23): Perennials, perennialsfabrics.com.
    Cocktail table (#FN542, finished in Rottenstone); end tables (“Estate Cocktail Table” #FN218, finished in Rottenstone): Elegant Earth, elegantearth.com.

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    Family

    Theresa and Gerald Alexander with Anya and Austin. 

    Mantel: antique.
    Area rug (custom): Caravan Rug, caravanrug.com.
    Wing chair; coffee table: custom.
    Wing-chair fabric (Mohair/Paprika): Michael Jon Designs, michaeljondesigns.com.

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