Trianon Today

Some buildings and their interiors  never fade from sight, they are too influential,  defining a style, a high-point in taste and design which become a touchstone for  subsequent generations.  Petit Trianon’s restrained neo classical elegance,  decorated to reflect the charm and beauty of the gardens beyond its windows is just such a building.  Call it ‘Trianon Today’, the queen’s taste filtered by modern tastemakers through a contemporary lens to create interiors that while rooted in the past are utterly chic and very, very desirable.fullsizerender-4

See what I mean?

So what’s the tick list? how to spot ‘Trianon Today’…. you may wish the skip this bit if your tête-à-tête with Trianon….


  • Fusing inside/outside to play with your senses, this was the era of Rousseau   championing nature’s positive influence.
  • Louis XV and XVI side by side, Marie Antoinette’s design team left aspects of Louis’s interior untouched.g. the boiserie, the staircase, the stone vestibule.
  • Clear, soft colours with occasional jewel brights, Petit Trianon has lots of gentle green, lashings of white and greige, layers of soft pinks and shades of blue, dashes of raspberry red and darker green… the colours of truth and nature.
  • remember that blue and white ‘Wedgwood’ inspired boudoir.
  • Exterior lanterns are brought inside.
  • Stone and marble, parquet and panelling, cotton and linens. Gilt accents…Beautiful natural materials of the finest quality.
  • Floral motifs from meadows and hedgerows, lightly held in garlands and ribbons, over multiple surfaces and textiles, oh …and scattered with pearls .
  • Temples in the garden and THAT Treillage pavilion, Pavillion Frais.
  • This is a Queen’s vision of rustic charm, so … remember
  • Pierre de Nolhac: elegant not lavish: pure good taste in the place of expected luxury.

The essence of the Trianon’s Style  is….epis-ears-of-corn-chair-george-jacob-trianon

Georges Jacob’s ‘épis’ bedroom furniture delivered 1787, back in situ in its original upholstery…

 So where does the style Trianon reside today?  I kept on thinking about this in Provence and images of  Janet de Bottom’s nearby manse  kept floating into view, so shall we take a look? via Vogue Living and Hamish Bowles?Janet de Bottom provence Les Beaux

It was actually converted from a bull farm, hence the minotaur’s maze below.  Converted doesn’t really cover it though. The 1,000 acres surrounding it gave scope for ambitious garden plans, which Marie Antoinette and Richard Mique (her architect) would definitely have approved of, nature being the essence of style Trianon.  De Bottom’s brief was ‘amaze me‘ and ‘don’t forget a cutting garden’, there is a temple (like Trianon) and like Trianon the rooms colours reflect the flowers beyond and visa versa…


Shall we just walk through the roses, maybe pluck a few?Marie_Antoinette_in_Muslin_dress vigee le brun

Or pass by the hydrangea walk below…


These soften to shades of mauve over the season and reflect the  glazed lilac linen which Janet found at Nicholas Haslam’s shop a decade earlier and finally used across the drawing room windows.  Armfuls of irises complementing this purple palette in the Spring …

img_4159Looks comfortable doesn’t it? Louis XV’s curved lines sit comfortably beside later pieces, while tole floral wall lights frame a Carolyn Sergeant leaf painting above the decorative console.  img_4133A playful tromp l’oiel needlepoint side table reminds guests of their host’s championship level bridge…img_4127
img_4137Need a refuge? the library is next door, mirroring the palette and materials, against bespoke greige panelling. Janet said that while her husband Gilbert (now deceased) wanted Versailles, she wanted the absolute opposite, banishing embellishments and passementerie, simplifying boiserie designs and panelling details.img_4145The entrance hall was  formed around a Louis XVI staircase and took ten attempts to form the perfect proportions. A key partner in the project said: Janet is impetuous, she will go for it, and if it doesn’t work break it down and start again. Go Janet.img_4140Makes me want to sit down for a moment and soak it in:img_4139On the Louis XV canapé à confidantes, naturally surrounded by an artless profusion of flowers…img_4138Getting peckish? the breakfast room is surrounded by floral 18th century Marseilles fiaencé this is a collector’s house.

img_4128Swoon over it from your Louis XV chair… stroll through the sea of lavender (or brave the maze) before lunch…personally I’d track down the grotto (Trianon infamously had one too),  here master jeweller JAR has been at work, swapping shells for gems.img_4143Time for a glass of rosé in the shade enjoying the view through the grapevine arbor… img_4131Before an afternoon around the pool surrounded by  fantasy tents Haslam designed inspired by the Guards’ pavilions at Drottingholm, swoon, double swoon… arranged for playing cards poolside (according to Hamish). Not being the ultimate card-sharp maybe I would need to retire pre-dinner, when I think I’d be the first one down…img_4132The dining room is surrounded by Louis VX hand painted canvas panels with an 18th century dauphin’s ‘dolphin’ presiding over you,  hello Marie Antoinette – Dauphine of France.


She could literally pull up a seat, a Louis XVI chaise still in its original Aubusson upholstery. This house is one of the great contemporary estates of our time, hailed by Nicholas Haslam as a masterpiece,  and by Jacob de Rothschild as the most comfortable, thoughtful place he has ever stayed. It’s an epic creation with Trianon refracted and reflected into the 21st century. But you can see  and create a sense of Trianon in any space you choose,  I visited Joanna Plant at the House and Garden magazine’s Summer Fair, and took a step backwards as I walked in to her  stand, just to see it again…fullsizerender-3

how charming is this?


Parquet – tick, treillage – tick, inside-outside –  big tick, green and white – tick, plants galore – tick, lantern – tick, floral wall lights – tick, neo-classical urns and massed tureens – tick, cabbage ware (chic twist on classic floral Sèvres) – double tick, rustic-luxe – tick, understated elegance –  tick.  Trianon Today.


It’s fresh rather than classic and inviting, a fantasy dining space to relax in. The white dinner ware, modern chairs , soft stripes and natural textures a perfect counter point to the playful trellis and massed florals.  Shall we just pour a coupe right now?

Actually I am going to hold off for coffee, I am meeting Joanna to talk interiors, Trianon, keeping it real and modern English style later this week.  So let’s stay in touch.



Trianon, Juliet O’Carroll.

Provence, photographed by Francois Halard, quote ‘one of the great contemporary estates of our time‘ Hamish Bowles. Vogue Living 2004.

Joanna Plant’s decorated exhibition space, photographed by  both Joanna and Juliet.

It’s worth noting, you see what you want to see and also what your eye has been trained or encouraged to see, I undoubtedly was influenced by my visit to Trianon, subsequently seeing it in both de Bottom’s Provence and Joanna’s summer room, but isn’t that the point? in seeing more, the world becomes more layered and interesting. Think of Vogue’s great editor Diane Vreeland: the eye has to travel.


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