Whether you're sitting down to write an epic or furnishing an epic sitting room, there's no better cure for blank page syndrome than a healthy set of creative constraints. Which is why interior designer Timothy Corrigan might owe the character of his French château, profiled in this month's Architectural Digest, to Les Architectes des Bâtiments de France, the famously particular institutional watchdogs of France's architectural heritage. Corrigan bought the 18th-century Loire Valley estate, dubbed Château du Grand-Lucé, from the French government in 2004, and has since given its neglected, starchy recesses some much-needed TLC, despite the fact that every shade of paint he wanted to use had to have its historical accuracy approved by committee.
Corrigan did have free rein when it comes to furnishings, though. In a sitting room once frequented by French aristocrats, the designer brought in Hermes throw pillows, Jansen side tables, and a few other modern pieces to offset the antiques that broadcast the estate's historical pedigree. But those additions are tame compared to the Mexican Day of the Dead figures adorning one bedroom's mantlepiece, or the turquoise necklace slyly accessorizing a marble bust in the entrance hall, items that announce Corrigan's own Southern California-infused aesthetic. "I didn't want the place to take itself too seriously," he told Arch Digest. "We're not in a museum. The message is, we're just having fun." Presumably, he had to take a different tack when convincing the French authorities to let him turn a fountain in the rose garden into a swimming pool, even though the end result sounds like the very dictionary definition of "fun."
AD did its first tour of the L.A.-based designer's 45,000-square foot vacation villa in 2009, although there's a lengthier and more luminous appraisal of the place in his recently released book, An Invitation to Château du Grand-Lucé. Conversely, if you'd rather admire the formal exercise of SoCal attempting to import the French château, there's always Tom Brady's new place.
· Timothy Corrigan's Spectacular French Chateau [Arch Digest]