Fabrics have always been integral to the lives of Patrick Frey, president and creative director of Pierre Frey, and his wife Lorraine, previously head of the company’s international PR. So it’s only natural that handwoven linens and cool cottons from the renowned French fabric house are at the heart of the couple’s country retreat in the Luberon, one of the world's best homes.
But this decorating theme comes with a proviso. ‘The role of the fabrics is to perfect and complete the atmosphere of the house without ever betraying it,’ says Patrick. ‘We want at all costs to keep the essence, spirit and authenticity that originally charmed us.’
Their village home is a traditional bastide, with thick stone walls that have provided shelter from the strong mistral winds and respite from the summer heat for centuries.
It previously belonged to Lorraine’s parents, from whom the couple bought it in 2010. The building’s core dates from the 18th century, with 20th-century additions. Patrick and Lorraine reunited two sections to reinstate a layout closer to the farmhouse’s original one and integrated outside areas, with terraces, verandas and convivial spaces to enjoy year round.
These are places where Patrick and Lorraine gather for long lunches and conversations with family members, including Patrick’s sons, Pierre, Vincent and Matthieu, who each have a key role within the company, honouring the legacy of Patrick and his father, Pierre.
Patrick Frey is the president and artistic director of Pierre Frey (opens in new tab), the company created by his father in 1935, while his wife Lorraine was previously head of the company’s international PR. Patrick grew up in a family of artists and decorators and his passion for design is very apparent. Since 1969, when he joined Pierre Frey, Patrick has been a creative powerhouse. He creates several collections of fabrics and papers each year inspired by the spirit of the times or by his 20,000 archive documents dating from the 16th century to the present day. Many of these designs are showcased in his and Lorraine's idyllic holiday home in Provence.
Vaulted living room
Inside, the living spaces reflect the rustic setting with plenty of natural textures, from Provençal straw baskets to woven plates and rugs from South Africa, where Lorraine grew up. Ceramics include glossy green glazed tableware, vintage china and pieces with a chalkier finish aligned with the raw materials at play. The fabrics and rugs also echo the tones of the sun-blasted landscape, including rich yellows and deep greens.
‘The idea is to emphasise the harmony of colours and give an impression of continuity between the house, the garden and nature,’ Patrick says.
‘The thick stone walls keep the rooms warm or cool, depending on the season.’
Among the living room ideas was ensuring this space acts as a pared-back counterbalance to the rugged stone-lined rooms. ‘A green palette dominates in this house,’ Lorraine says. An elegant Philippe Hurel sofa is covered in Pierre Frey’s Angkor in a muted green, with cushions in complementary hues.
A fruit crate painted by Lorraine’s children draws the eye upstairs.
The breakfast area feels vibrant, with a tablecloth in Pierre Frey’s Nikita linen, its hand-embroidered organic shapes almost echoing the house’s rugged stonework. Typically Parisian bistro chairs add a chic touch.
This relaxing, light-filled space is decorated in yellows and natural greens that harmonise with the hues outside.
Rich in woven materials, this stone-lined room opens onto the garden, where further living and lounging spaces await.
Dining room ideas for bringing authentic rusticity to this space include a weathered vintage farmhouse table and an old French church cabinet, its doors permanently open to display collections of tableware. Woven textures lend a sense of measured calm.
Fabrics of varying weights and patterns bring depth to this decor. Bedroom ideas include linens looped above the bed as a canopy, a joyful embroidered linen inspired by stained-glass windows of modernist villas on the French Riviera used as a throw and lengths of Pierre Frey’s Mauritius print used as a wall hanging.
The wallpaper covering an old wardrobe is a collaboration with Paris art students that explores Native American motifs.
This typically Provençal seat has been repainted in a chalky white to give it a new lease of life.
Outdoor dining area
‘We love spending time outdoors, with the sweet smell of the lavender and the sound of cicadas and birdsong,’ Patrick says.
‘The work on the house is finished but there is always something to do,’ he continues. ‘We like to move the furniture around, and we love to hunt for amazing pieces that have a history – the market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a goldmine for that.’ He also plans to refresh the fabrics every two or three years – a lifetime spent dreaming up new collections has clearly left its mark in the best possible way.
Interior design/ Patrick Frey
Photography/ Joanna MacLennan
Text/ Jo Leevers