Thursday, October 21, 2021

New California Coastal Retreat by Architect Cass Calder Smith and Interior Designer Nicole Hollis

Stinson Beach, one hour north of San Francisco, is the seaside location where architect Cass Calder Smith and interior designer Nicole Hollis teamed up to create a young family’s new weekend house. It’s designed for easy come, easy go. The perfect year-round escape.

Sunrise brings a sense of place and a feeling of peace within the green embrace of forested slopes of Mt. Tam. There’s surfing, hiking, swimming in the lagoon, trail biking. Afternoons offer excursions to nearby West Marin farms for produce, flowers, and cheese and local wines.

Come with me for a private visit—DIANE 

“The architecture of this modern beach house was the result of subtractions, additions, refinements,” San Francisco architect Cass Calder Smith “Stinson Beach has always attracted leading designers and architects. Notable architects who have created houses in Seadrift include William Wurster, Joseph Esherick, and Stanley Saitowitz among others.” 

Cass Calder Smith has created three new houses in Seadrift over the past ten years.

Stinson Beach, very low-key and casual, makes the perfect setting for a young surf-loving family. Here on the Western edge of the continent, an ever-changing panorama of fog, waves, and placid lagoon is the background of the ideal escape.

The light constantly shifts with the whims of the weather, and this new Stinson Beach weekend house exudes an almost tactile sense of calm and permanence within.

Newly remodeled by architect Cass Calder Smith and Bjorn Steudte, and with relaxed chic decor by Nicole Hollis, the house has become a beloved year-round gathering spot.

At the end of each sun-struck day, the family enjoys bounty of the season from organic farms just a few miles north along Highway 1. They fire up the grill and dine outdoors and watch the sunset.

The low-key house was ideally located but ready for a change.

“It was built in the mid-1960’s, and slowly it had succumbed to winter storms and summer heat and the marine environment, and many of its characteristics became obsolete,” said Calder Smith.

Interiors were designed by Nicole Hollis, with Honey Kearns planning the landscape. The overall design, the materials and the finishes, and the landscape are intentionally casual and naturalistic.

Beyond the new more open façade, key rooms are oriented towards the placid lagoon and simultaneously inward towards its intimate and sheltered courtyard.

It’s a very transparent building from every direction with expanses of glass and views of water and mountains. This architectural clarity and refinement also maximizes the indoor-outdoor effect.

“Most of the house was demolished and expanded to make it a ‘restoration’ of a mid-century beach house,” said Calder Smith. Rooms were expanded and altered. Various roofs were lifted, windows and glass doors enlarged. Every interior and exterior element was replaced – from the siding to the floors, to the fireplace, and the flora. The courtyard and decks were also replaced with the additions of a firepit and waterside Jacuzzi. Fine craftsmanship from the carpentry to the metal work to the furnishings were a high priority all with the goal to make it appear untouched, true to its origins.

Hollis selected a contemporary mix of vintage, modern, and custom pieces that are in sync with the casual mid-century design of the house.

The sense of place and easy access to the beach and the lagoon encourage socializing for all ages. Days are spent sailing in the lagoon, surfing and fishing in the ocean, bicycling and hiking.

“For the ultimate beach house vibe we created the refinement of the family’s great art collection and the custom furnishings surrounding them,” said Nicole Hollis. 

There are works by Tara Donovan, Sheila Hicks, and George Nakashima and others. A mix of modern and mid-century furnishings and lighting complement the art collection giving the cottage an approachable lived-in feeling, said the designer.

Hollis said she is happy that the house is relaxed, flexible and durable, and welcoming throughout the seasons.

“The views through the large windows and sliding doors act as art and compliment the interiors,” said Hollis. “The house itself isn’t huge but the views are so grand. I love the juxtaposition.”


Architecture | Cass Calder Smith Architecture+Interiors
Design principal: Cass Calder Smith
Project Architect: Bjorn Steudte

Interiors | Nicole Hollis
Design Principal: Nicole Hollis
Project Designer: Marco Zamora

Landscape Design | Lehua Gardens Inc.
Honey Kearns

General Contractor | Allen Construction
Tom Moore
Jim Allen

Photographer |  Paul Dyer

Kitchen | Henry Built

Area | 2100 square feet

  • The kitchen showcases ceramic tile in Midcentury White by Heath Ceramics, Misty Carrera countertops by Caesar Stone and cabinets in Blue Raven laminate and roasted walnut by HenryBuilt Cabinets.
  • The living room fireplace is made of San Anselmo Standard Corso Long Format Whitewashed Terracotta Fireplace Brick by Cooritalia.
  • White stained and wire brushed cedar walls and reclaimed oak floors are featured throughout the house.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Newest Book I Love: Château de Haroué: 'The Home of the Princes de Beauvau-Craon’, newly published by Rizzoli. It's a great French estate, and a family home.

The most romantic chateau in France is revealed in a gorgeous new book out this month. 

The history-filled Château de Haroué in eastern France, is the style-rich family home of the noble Beauvau-Craon family, who continue to live there. The new book is written by  Victoria Botana de Beauvau-Craon, the daughter of the current heir,  Princess Minnie de Beauvau-Craon.

It’s a gorgeous and very personal book that reveals the complicated and fascinating history of the family, the ancestors, the characters and stories of the region. It shows how generations of the family  lived there,  celebrations and events, and the rooms and private quarters.

 The house has been lovingly protected and lavished with care since it was built starting in 1720. Each turret and hallway and salon and corner  is filled with art collections and signatures of lives well-lived,  of connoisseurship and consistent taste and style.

Superb interiors and details are captured in photography by the great Miguel Flores-Vianna ('Haute Bohemians'). Images styled by Peter Copping, the British fashion designer (formerly creative director of Oscar de la Renta)  who lives in Western France. 

And best of all, for me, the beautifully written, heartfelt and descriptive Preface was written by the highly esteemed French interior designer/ architect, Jean-Louis Deniot, about whom I wrote Jean-Louis Deniot Interiors, a best-selling book, also published by Rizzoli.

The cover of the book shows the richly layered salon at the chateau, with its textiles and tapestries, portraits, carpets, silks and antiques. And it reveals how the family entertains, with generosity and flair.

The book opens with the Preface, written with artful style and generosity by Jean-Louis Deniot. He is a very dear friend of the Beauvau-Craon family and intimately knowledgeable about every inch of the chateau.

His preface offers personal insight and the wisdom of a designer, now celebrating 25 years in his architecture/ design practice. Jean-Louis is based in Paris, with a dramatic new atelier overlooking the historic Champs de Mars.

See more of my favorite books, my book collection, and new books on INSTAGRAM: #mylifetimelibrary

Come with me to learn more about this super-elegant family château, and to hear of my adventures on the first time I visited. I should add: it is rather remote from Paris.

About the Book

Written by Victoria Botana de Beauvau-Craon and her mother Minnie de Beauvau-Craon, CHÂTEAU DE HAROUÉ: THE HOME OF THE PRINCES DE BEAUVAU-CRAON paints a vibrant picture of the castle’s architectural splendors, lifestyle, notable events, designers, and seasons.

With creative direction by noted fashion designer Peter Copping, the book has a very chic style, expressed among the handsome, totally authentic rooms.

The book captures the spirit and elegant style of this stunning property in the Lorraine region of Eastern France.

Beautiful photography is by leading interiors photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna.

This handsomely produced book offers unprecedented access to eighty-two magnificent rooms—including spaces such as the cellars and attics rarely shown in a book such as this.

Rooms, all authentic and unchanged, are enlivened by exquisite tapestries, hand-painted walls by the Pillement family of artists, along with gold-framed family portraits, a museum-worthy collection of art, and stately antique furniture. 

Located in a remote and quite tiny village in near the Moselle river of northeastern France, the estate of Château de Haroué is an unrivaled treasure of Gallic culture and heritage.

Built between 1720 and 1729 for Marc de Beauvau, Prince de Beauvau-Craon, constable of Lorraine and viceroy of Tuscany, the chateau is one of the most romantic in France, and one of the few still in the same family.

The descendants have inhabited the castle ever since, and are devoted stewards of this remarkable estate.

My Adventure, My Visit to Château de Haroué

Several years ago, when I was working on a project in Paris, I set out on the TGV (fast train…up to 200 kph) to visit the Château de Haroué. There was an exhibit of couture gowns and wedding dresses by Givenchy in the château.

I jumped on the train and headed east, into agricultural France, across golden wheat fields. And through forests. I arrived in the regional city of Nancy in two and a half hours.

Minnie de Beauvau, the chatelaine, had suggested to catch a taxi outside the station. None. No Uber. I checked on buses. Early morning and late afternoon only. I made some calls and a taxi eventually arrived.

Half an hour later, after winding through rolling meadows and ancient forests, I arrived at the gates of Haroué. I phoned Minnie and she greeted me. We first headed up to the gallery where she was showing the Givenchy glorious gowns, including her own wedding dress, and the black dress Audrey Hepburn wore to gaze into the windows at Tiffany. ‘Moon River’ was playing on the exhibit sound system.

Gorgeous. We had a sip of tea, then slowly walked out into the garden, over the moat with white swans, and along rows of topiary box. We gazed across the green fields and luscious stands of oaks.

The ch
âteau, viewed from the garden, is handsome, indeed. It has wonderful symmetry and grace and harmony. It has not been altered, added to, nor damaged over time. The family loves it just the authentic and classic way it was built.

We lingered in the English garden, and talked of the ancestors, the celebrations, famous names, summer operas, and centuries of life and family and love of this wonderful ch

It was soon twilight. Time to head back to Paris. A charming staff member offered to drive me back to the Nancy station. The train headed west. I dreamed of the great art, tapestries, turrets, Pillement murals, antiques, views, and gracious rooms of Haroué. And the family devotion that has buoyed its spirit all these centuries. A favorite memory. Now recaptured in this new Rizzoli book.

Next time you are in Paris, check to see if Haroué is open to visitors. Call ahead. Double check timing. And take your own jaunt to this beautiful and remote part of Paris.

You may be fortunate to have a private tour with Minnie de Beauvau-Craon. I hope so.



Texts by Victoria Botana de Beauvau-Craon and Minnie de Beauvau-Craon

Preface by Jean-Louis Deniot

About the Author: Victoria Botana de Beauvau-Craon is a creative director and producer.

About the Photographer: Miguel Flores-Vianna is a renowned Argentine-born, London-based photographer whose images regularly appear in Architectural Digest and Cabana magazine.

Preface: Jean-Louis Deniot is a noted French architect and interior designer, with projects and devoted clients around the world. A close friend of the de Beauvau-Craon family, he is a connoisseur of the history of Château de Haroué.

by Miguel Flores-Vianna. Images ©Miguel Flores-Vianna

Published by Rizzoli.

Available now at independent booksellers and at the Rizzoli Bookstore, New York, and online.