French Chateau Style
With A Storybook Balance Between Earthy And Chic, One Designer Infuses An Elegant Country Manor And Working Stables With Incomparable Warmth And Welcome
Matthew Frederick, M. Frederick Design, New York, NY
Ken Hayden, Miami Beach, FL
Jerry Stevens, Shibui Studios, Inc., Ocala, FL
Larry Drake, Edwards Construction Services, Inc., Ocala, FL
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Embracing her lifelong love of horses, this young mother and competitive grand-prix equestrian built a farm that looks like it’s right off the pages of a storybook. “In Florida, you see more Mediterranean-style architecture or ranch houses. But spending time in Europe — my horses are from Europe — my husband and I wanted to take a French chateau route for our forever home,” she says.
Building upon that idea, she and interior designer Matthew Frederick talked about the history of early mills in the Central Florida area, and decided to tie the buildings to the land to create a back-story. “We wanted the architecture to look like an old structure that had been absorbed into a new structure, like we had left the ‘theoretical bones,’” says Frederick, who created the farm’s concept and designed the interiors as well as the landscape. “We asked ourselves, ‘if there had been a house and stables already here, what would they have looked like?’”
And that’s how the narrative was spun for this beautiful 12,000-square-foot, French-style house and its 5,000-square-foot, 12-stall professional stables. Of course, the setting is storybook, too: a lovely 75-acre tree-studded parcel with manicured rings, paddocks and lawn.
Making an eloquent statement of elegance and simplicity in the entry, reclaimed tumbled-brick insets within the polished-concrete floor hint of age; the stairway features an understated iron railing and oak treads; and two Neoclassical-style transom windows are handsomely adorned in steel.
Crowned with a beamed 25-foot pitched ceiling, the dining room has fumed-oak flooring with a mottled-aged finish and a cast-stone fireplace mantel that features a vintage French silhouette. Croc-embossed-leather wingchairs with mohair and velvet seats host an alder-wood rustic farm table. “This room has a nice mix of textures,” Frederick says. “The feeling is neat and sophisticated but approachable.”
Brick patches in the wall and custom reclaimed-oak barn doors echo a bygone era in the living room, where Kravet’s dark taupe linen draperies pull open to allow natural light into the familial space. Accent pillows in shades of tan, cream, orange and brown top the deep-seated, barrel-arm sofa wrapped in brown mohair and velvet. “I wanted the decor to be durable and to last, but while the main staples stay, I can change pillows for varying pops of color,” the wife says.
The creamy white kitchen features a coffered ceiling, old-fashioned hardware, unlacquered copper accents and cement flooring polished to a high sheen. “My client wanted a functional space with enough room to accommodate everyone, so it’s really open and spread out,” Frederick says. “To bring in a vintage quality, we hit the copper dome light with hammers and I dragged it down the road behind my car.”
French country style continues in the master suite, where the custom bed, with its wing headboard in tufted dark saddle leather, is dressed in orange linen that contrasts with brown, white and gray accent pillows. Hearthside, an intimate sitting area inspires quiet contemplation while keeping an eye on the stables.
An amateur polo player, Frederick fully understands the requirements of professional stables. “This is a working farm,” he says. “The stables are functional, serving the demands of horses and general daily activities, but it’s also decorative, bright, fresh and interesting.”
In the midst of all the action and liveliness, this French country home truly is a step back in time for this Central Florida couple and their family.