Interiors: The Parisian home of Joy de Rohan Chabot

Being dyslexic, de Rohan Chabot found solace in drawing from an early age and has never stopped making art. And what a spectrum of disciplines in the decorative and fine arts she embraces: painting, sculpting, casting, metalwork, lacquering and gilding. Her practical streak is in evidence throughout the house: she has covered walls and doors in extravagantly patterned fabric; reupholstered beds and furniture; painted butterflies on the outside walls; and even sculpted the front gate in steel and bronze, surmounted by one of her signature owls. Then there is her furniture – fabulous baroque creations that she sculpts from wax and casts in bronze before adding the final decorative layer of painting, gilding and lacquering.

While de Rohan Chabot has built up a considerable reputation in France over the years – she holds an annual exhibition at Galerie Matignon off the Champs-Elysées and the fashion designer Valentino is said to be a collector of her work – her whimsical furniture, tableware and clocks are little known on this side of the Channel. This may change with an exhibition in London at the beginning of next year. Simply titled ‘Joy’, it will be held at the Brompton Cross branch of the clothing store Joseph, which has teamed up with Sophie Tremlett’s design company VIP Corner to create a series of three-month artist-designer shows.

Whether in Paris or the countryside, de Rohan Chabot is always busy. She is as passionate now about her art as when she was a young girl drawing portraits of her dolls. The biggest compliment anyone has ever paid her is that she creates an entire universe in her work. ‘I think this mix of painting, sculpting and patina is unique to me. I like working across many disciplines because I love working with new techniques. Once I know how to make something, I get bored because then I am only using the hands – and not the brain.’

A selection of de Rohan Chabot’s work is sold through Belgrave Place (belgraveplace.com)

The Salon

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The L-shaped salon (main picture and above) connects the drawing room to an adjacent smaller sitting room. Joy de Rohan Chabot covered the walls in fabric herself, with ribbon braid concealing the tacks. The fabric is based on an 18th-century print. She recently refreshed the room simply by taking this down, washing it and rehanging it. The carpet is by Madeleine Castaing. The furniture, objects and paintings are a mix of inherited family pieces and the many auction buys in which de Rohan Chabot’s husband, Jean, likes to indulge. The button-back sofa and chairs were bought from the French decorator Hubert de Vinols.

The table in the doorway is an antique – the first piece of furniture that she and Jean bought together, and an inspiration for her future work. Over the fireplace in the sitting room is a portrait of de Rohan Chabot as a young woman, while to the left of this is a portrait of one of her illustrious ancestors, the Duc de Choiseul, who was one of Marie Antoinette’s most trusted ministers.

Above is another view of the salon, with a console table by de Rohan Chabot that has proved to be one of her most popular designs. Each one is unique, with varied configurations of branches, birds, butterflies and so on. On the wall is a portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud. On each side of this are examples of the green ceramic leaves from the 19th century that de Rohan Chabot likes to collect.

The Studio

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

De Rohan Chabot converted the basement garage into the spacious studio, where mature trees and other plants thrive under glass. Shown here is one of her gold-painted bronze chairs, Grande Fleur Pensée, and various works in progress.

The Dining Room

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The de Rohan Chabots extended the house into a small courtyard next to the kitchen in order to add this charming dining room. The glass panels in the floor allow light into her studio below. Above is a terrace garden that is reached via the guest bedroom. The dining table was designed by de Rohan Chabot. The portrait is of her half-Scottish maternal grandmother, May Balfour, who designed jewellery for Chanel among others.

The Master Bedroom

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The master bedroom adjoins the L-shaped salon, designed by de Rohan Chabot as if it were a hotel suite. When parties are held, she simply tucks the bed out of sight in a cupboard. Above the bed is a photograph of Château de Haroué, where she held an exhibition earlier this year. The trompe l’oeil ‘cushioned’ bedhead was painted by de Rohan Chabot, who also covered the walls in this butterfly-print fabric from Marché St-Pierre in Paris.

The Bathroom

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

An antique double basin takes centre-stage in the master bathroom, which is decorated with several of the handsome Venetian mirrors that de Rohan Chabot collects. She bought a job lot of faux tiger-skin rugs from China, using some here and taking some to the country chateau.

joyderohanchabot.com

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