The salon featured above is quite possibly one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen, for many reasons. Unquestionably French by design, it succeeds in balancing fine 18th-century boiserie, antiques and objets d’arts with comfortable, if not humble, statements including loose linen slip covered furniture, a tone-on-tone checkerboard patterned carpet, the contemporary curve of an antique Chinese scholar’s table, and an all-over monochromatic color scheme that goes from creamy white to Trianon gray with the changing light. If a room were a lady, this room would be Grace Kelly: stylish, chic and timeless.
This knock-out room, and those that follow, was decorated for American financier John Gutfreund and his wife, Susan, in the 1980’s by the late great French interior designer Henri Samuel. If you scroll down to the next photo you may recognize the entry hall from a very recent post, Le goût Givenchy, Paris. It so happens that Givenchy purchased the main wing of l’Hôtel Orrouer, also known as l’Hôtel de Beauffremont, in 1986 after the Gutfreund’s had moved into the less grand yet spacious wing comprising a five-floor townhouse. On June 28th, 2011, the contents of the Gutfreund’s Paris hôtel particulier went on the block at Christie’s Paris.
The main entry hall was shared by the Gutfreund’s with couturier Hubert de Givenchy. The Gutfreund’s townhouse apartment began on the second level – or the first level, the etáge noble, as it is referred to in most fine European buildings.
While architect Alain Reynaud returned an 18th-century spirit to the apartment townhouse designer Henri Samuel filled it with Continental treasures. The entrance to the apartment shares the same creamy boiserie as the salon, accented with gold silk covered settees and gold silk damask curtains.
Susan Gutfreund requested that Henri Samuel integrate a looser, more provincial ambiance alongside the fine 18th-century antiques and decorative arts. Slipcovers on some of the furniture creates a more approachable and pared-down aesthetic, beautifully rendered in shades of cream. An embroidered wall hanging attributed to Versailles hangs before a Sicilian bust on a bleached carved console. Throughout the residence Samuel created clean and classic backgrounds with refined detailing for which to showcase the Gutfreund’s personal style and growing collections.
Here, slipcovers were removed for the winter months, revealing sepia tone velvet upholstered furniture in one seating arrangement. A set of six Louis XVI painted armchairs, stamped Adrien-Pierre Dupain, sold at Christie’s.
The atmosphere of the dining room blends elegant formality and provincial charm, where eight antique French panels of the Muses surround a draped dining table surrounded by French chairs wearing a checked silk fabric, crowned by a Russian chandelier.
The silk-lined library, based on an 18th-century shade of yellow, was a treasure trove full of unique collections – from trompe l’oeil bookcases made by Tony Duquette for the Duchess of Windsor and a sofa inspired by a model for Louis XIV’s brother, to the ormolu-mounted ebonized desk of 1730 from neighbor de Givenchy’s collection, and four Salzburg paintings, gifts from Karl Lagerfeld.
The giltwood mirror above the fireplace in the library also came from de Givenchy’s private collection.
The picture above the Louis XV fireplace in the master bedroom was painted by Jean Raoux.
Henri enveloped the master bedroom en suite in a Braquenié floral to create a romantic and cozy cocoon; he also designed the lit a la polonaise.
Madame Gutfreund’s boudoir was fit for Marie Antoinette!
A seating area in one of the stair halls is a symphony of French blue.
At the foot of a four-poster bed in one of the guest bedrooms sits a 19th-century red velvet doghouse.
Photography by Alexander Bailhache for the January/February and on-line issues of Veranda.