Celebrated English interior designer Nicky Haslam is spearheading refurbishments to update Le Preverger, the magnificent former estate of the late British designer Laura Ashley in the medieval French village of La Garde-Freinet.
Set on 150 picturesque acres of woods, olive groves and vineyards, just 13 miles from St-Tropez, Le Preverger is considered one of the jewels of the French Riviera, purchased in late 2012 by Karma Royal Group Chairman and CEO John Spence and added to his Karma Royal Group global portfolio of exclusive private enclaves.
The refurbishment project encompasses the estate’s four-bedroom main chateau, including the creation and curation of a new library overseen by Ultimate Library, the bespoke library service founded by English entrepreneur Philip Blackwell, and will eventually include the updating of the estate’s gardens and grounds, five-bedroom guest villa, four-bedroom coach house and two-bedroom pool house.
“I have always admired the work of Nicky Haslam and it was an honour and a thrill when he agreed to work on the interiors at Le Preverger.
Nicky has known the house over the years and, indeed, many of the people who have stayed here,” said John Spence.
“We were extremely keen to maintain the provenance and history of the house and its previous occupants, notably Laura Ashley and Jeanne Moreau, and his brief was to do this whilst modernizing it and making it an outstanding example of interior design.
This he has done beyond expectation.”
Nicky Haslam said that the task of updating the estate is a “huge pleasure.”
“From the onset, we shared a vision for Le Preverger, an equal understanding of how people wish to live and entertain, as well as in our shared passion for architecture and its relationship to both its landscape and those who inhabit it,” said Mr. Haslam.
“In this, Le Preverger is so much more than a summer home.”
Some of Mr. Haslam’s first steps in reworking the estate included widening the smaller rooms’ doorways and actually removing the doors to create more enticing views to the main salon.
He also heightened the French windows by adding tall, wide mirror-paned overdoors, which also serve the purpose of beautifully reflecting the many candles with which the room is lit for gala occasions at night.
Mr. Haslam emphasized the height of the other remaining walls by resurrecting and hanging a huge, decorative 18th century painting, and a triptych of framed tapestries which had been part the house’s collection from its previous owners.
Huge sofas and deep armchairs now surround the fireplace, with a second seating area between a set of doors, where the terrace beyond gives views down to an immense, crescent-shaped pool.
Adjoining the salon, Mr. Haslam’s design inspiration was a sophisticated cave, with a large stone table to hold icy bottles of wine, rose or Champagne, leather banquettes to perch on and vintage photographs of French film star Jeanne Moreau, former chatelaine of Le Preverger.
Le Preverger boasts 18 bedrooms, eight reception rooms and 11 bathrooms, and its appeal lies as much in its bucolic setting as its classic architecture.
The extensive grounds of the estate are home to established olive groves, a vineyard, oak and chestnut woods filled with wild mushrooms and landscaped gardens.