A serene balance of rusticity and elegance suffuses the furnishings Sophie Lambert lovingly gathered for her home in France. The Gustavian style she favors, a blend of neutral tones with distressed-wood finishes, can be found at sales held in small cottages on the property, as well as in her antiques shop. Both settings offer an enticing array of décor.
Upon discovering a neglected house and stables a short drive from Paris, Sophie Lambert and her husband, Philippe Alric, realized the property would be a perfect match for their interests: hers, antiques and his, horses. Undeterred by years of negotiation to purchase it and the complete restoration necessary to move in—the house lacked even running water—they persisted.
Today, the estate, reachable by car or a short train ride from the center of Paris, is known as the “Bronze Horse Stable,” named for a regal statue that stands at the entrance—a memento of former owner, philanthropist Frank Jay Gould’s champion racehorse. Philippe, a horse trainer and dressage instructor, runs the stables, and Sophie opens two cottages on the property twice yearly for antiques sales, as she has since 1996. The cottages are scenically set amid house and garden, barns, riding ring, fields, and woods. Attendance is by invitation and also via announcements posted at Sophie’s nearby antiques shop, Au Temps des Cerises, which is open year-round.
Visitors can browse furniture, including chairs, sofas, sideboards, chests, and writing desks, as well as paintings and smaller objects. Some of the wares come from Southern France, although most are from Scandinavia, where Gustavian style originated.
When King Gustav III of Sweden visited the French court at Versailles in the late eighteenth century, the neoclassical furniture there impressed him, and upon his return home, he imported some examples. A more restrained interpretation of these pieces, without gilding, evolved in Sweden and became widely popular there—partly because the reflective quality of the white or painted finishes served to illuminate the long Northern winters.
Sophie, who previously worked for a fashion publication, initially encountered her preferred Swedish décor through bargain hunting. She recalls, “At first sight, I loved its simplicity and the refinement of the colors.”
Text Carol Rizzoli
Photography Louis Galliard
Styling Marie-Paule Faure
Learn more about in “A Refined French Interior,” on page 55 of the January/February 2015 issue of Victoria magazine.