What would you consider practical aspects of providing comfort?
Timothy: If you can spill something and not worry about a stain, put your feet up on a coffee table, and set down a hot mug without leaving a ring, then you have achieved an aspect of practicality. We make sure to use the right fabrics where they are needed. We select performance fabrics, like our collection for Perennials, for heavily trafficked rooms; we put marine varnish on even the finest antique because it allows for a glass to be put down and not leave a stain. One of my new faves is Benjamin Moore's Scuff-X®. It allows you not to worry about day-to-day living in any space; it's easy to clean and stains, and marks easily wipe off.
What would you identify as one of the critical shifts in how the interior design profession is practiced?
Timothy: Designers are working on a broader stage, and are no longer just working locally. Much of this has been driven by the media's shift from print to online. We're currently working on a huge project in Asia for a client who just found us in an online feature.
What motivated you over the years to take on the challenge of acquiring and then designing, preserving, and renewing the chateaux that you have transformed and brought back to life?
Timothy: I'm a self-confessed chateaux-a-holic. I have renovated and restored four different chateaux–I love taking these sleeping beauties, built for another time, another way of life, that no longer really function very well for 21st century living, and figuring out how to appropriately update them for today. I think this applies to a chateau in France or a house in L.A. built in the 1920s. Take Mediterranean revival–where there are not a lot of windows, because back then people felt daytime was for outside and inside was for nighttime. Today people want a fluid inside/outside lifestyle.
But whatever the structure, you need a team, including structural engineers and local architects, who can work with the local landmark preservation authorities. You need to physically go see and feel the design resources; you can't do everything behind a computer screen!
I documented the restoration of the largest chateau I have undertaken in my book, An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Luce, and shared how I fell in love, acquired, and restored one of France's 18th century great country house gems.