To Retire in Burgundy, France

Jun 06, 2019

Colefax & Fowler.

If you know design or if you are British or if you love history and decor, it is highly likely you know of the design house – Colefax & Fowler. Founded in the 1930s, the longest established interior decorating firm in Great Britain, they have decorated primarily private residences for royalty, rock stars and other publically recognizable figures, all of whose names are kept private, but as well ski chalets, boardrooms, and restaurants around the world.

One of the interior designers who worked for Colefax & Fowler and eventually became the principal decorator of the design house, serving in the role for 30 years, Imogen Taylor, upon nearing her retirement in 2002 at the age of 76, found a house in need of her expertise to bring it to its full potential in a Burgundy hamlet near Semur-en-Auxois.

Having decorating numerous homes for clients over her 50 year career, she had never decorated her own home from scratch, having living primarily in London flats, and so she gave herself a project, and the project turned out quite well.

Key takeaways:

  • Honor the home’s bones and culture – Taylor embraced the exposed beams, the terracotta tiles, even found similar tiles in local attics to match what she had.
  • Bring furniture from your own journey to add to the decor – the desk seen immediately below was a gift from the design firm, the same desk John Fowler sat at for his tenure and the desk she sat at when she filled his shoes.
  • Pay attention to the details – the paneling, the crown molding, the window treatments, the precise shade of paint – even if you have to hand mix it yourself as Taylor did for the lime wash.
  • Welcome quality furniture into your home – reupholster if necessary, but choose quality items and gradually gather them over time.
  • Monochromatic wallpaper and window coverings – Initially, such a combo would be an immediate “no” for me, but when you take a look at the bedroom four images down, it works – and it doesn’t hurt that the room opens to the garden of the home.

Imogen Taylor’s memoir On the Fringe: A Life in Decorating (buy in the UK) was released in 2016. Inside, readers will discover her style expertise as well as learn about the social interactions and clients she worked with over the course of her 50 years with Colefax & Fowler.

I must say, Imogen Taylor is inspiring. Not only regarding her dedication to her career, but to step confidently, in her own unique and independent way, into her next chapter. May we all have the fortitude and good health to continue to live fully all the years of our lives. And if by chance we get to retire in France, icing on the cake.

~Imogen Taylor~

~View the entire home and profile on House & Garden UK

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