Home Tour | French Riviera by Jean-Charles Tomas

  • A house at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is updated to adapt to the owner’s needs and maximise unsurpassed views.

    Originally built in 2000 for a developer of high-end houses, and renovated 10 years ago, it was, according to designer Jean-Charles Tomas, lacking character and quite impersonal. “I feel the original idea was to sell it on, hence the fairly neutral interior was applied at that time,” Jean-Charles says, who has worked with the owner on several projects.

    Kitchen features Lindsey Adelman Branching Bubbles pendant, Pierre Jeanneret office chairs, Knoll Tulip table by Eero Saarinen and vintage Vallauris ceramic vase. Monica Vitti portrait by Chiara Samugheo.

    The initial brief was to rework the kitchen, making it more befitting of the scale of the house and one that would allow a professional chef to prepare meals for the owner and guests. When the new kitchen featuring new joinery, marble benches and splashbacks along with state-of-the-art appliances was complete, Jean-Charles was then awarded the larger brief to redesign the entire home – complete with new timber windows to maximise the views.

    As the owner was working and living from the home due to the pandemic, Jean-Charles’ approach was ‘room by room’, with the guest bedroom turned into the home office. “We tried to retain as much of the original house as possible, embellishing it rather than simply removing things and starting from scratch,” Jean-Charles says.

    Iconic mid-century pieces – the Hans J. Wegner JH571 desk and PP503 chair – are front and centre in the living space under a custom-made Branching Bubbles chandelier by Lindsey Adelman. A B&B sofa by Antonio Citterio upholstered in Loro Piana Fabric and Knoll Warren Platner side table are also featured. Artwork by André Butzer.

    The dining room features the Knoll Warren Platner armchairs in sumptuous olive green velvet, Knoll Tulip table by Eero Saarinen, Cosmos vase by Tadao Ando for Venini, Axel Salto ceramics and Guggenheim (2010) by Irene Kung.
    Neutral walls are a backdrop to the homeowner’s striking art collection, including the Mann mit Fahne (2018) sculpture by Thomas Schütte and framed work untitled (2018) by Albert Oehlen pictured. Two 45 chairs by Finn Juhl, and a black patinated bronze Pulpe coffee table by Studio Liagre take in the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat outlook.

    Jean-Charles’ approach was to work with a natural palette of materials, whether it took the form of timber, metal or stone, mindful of how each complemented the other. There were visits to quarries in Tuscany with the owner, where they discovered the Arabescato Viola marble that features in the kitchen and the lavish new ensuite bathroom to the main bedroom. Mindful of the structural columns in areas such as the bedroom, the solution was to add a third ‘faux’ column that provides symmetry and a nook for a chest of drawers. Each of the three nooks now has a specific function – writing, storage or reading. “It’s important to have a feeling of security in a bedroom,” Jean-Charles says

    Many of the walls in the home are quite neutral, allowing the owner’s art collection to be displayed, while sometimes adding a subtle tint of colour to respond to certain pieces of furniture or art. Some of the furniture had been purchased when the house was first completed, with some new pieces added including the statue of Thomas Schutte in the living area, the Finn Juhl 45 chairs and the Hans J. Wegner JH571 desk with its fine brass inlay. “That brass detailing became an inspiration for some of the other details,” Jean-Charles says.

    Although the spacious living and dining areas are often the places to which the owner gravitates, it’s the kitchen that has the greatest hold. “We all have to eat and a great kitchen is a great place to share with friends. It’s an immersive and inclusive experience,” Jean-Charles says, who also reworked some of the outdoor spaces, including the roof terrace, for entertaining, sunbathing and simply contemplating the extraordinary views of the Mediterranean.

    This feature originally appeared in est Magazine Issue 45: Sense of Place.

    Designer Jean-Charles Thomas

    The designer and client visited quarries in Tuscany to find the Arabescato Viola marble that lines the new ensuite bathroom. The mirror and shower doors are custom made with a nickel-plated frame by Bronze&Co, complementing the Tekna sconce by Mercer and Waterworks Henry tapware.

    Jean-Charles Tomas ensured the roof terrace was optimised for entertaining, sunbathing and taking in views of the Mediterranean. The pool’s sparkling effect has been created with Bisazza glass mosaic tiles.

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