The Parisians Who Left The Capital For A Castle In The Countryside
After stumbling across and then purchasing an 1830s Bordeaux castle, Anne and Jean-Pierre Boghossian discuss what it took to renovate the building, the thrill of furniture and filling its cellar with treasures.
Former Parisians, Anne and her husband, Jean-Pierre, decided to leave the capital in 2001 to raise their children in the countryside. “Jean-Pierre is a wine merchant, and I am originally from the southwest. We, therefore, naturally sought to settle in the Bordeaux region,” explains the designer. It was the start of Internet advertising. We were lucky enough to quickly stumble upon this property, which we came to visit on a beautiful April day. It’s hard not to fall under the spell of the castle and its magnificent land surrounded by vineyards!”
The castle, built in the 1830s, reflects the hybrid style in vogue at that time, half classical half Gothic. The bunch of grapes carved above the door alludes to the job of the sponsor, a boatman who brought wine from Cahors, France. “We liked that the history of the building connected with Jean-Pierre’s work. The facade on the garden side has a much simpler appearance and suggests a future expansion,” explains the owner. After having belonged to the same family for 150 years, the house was abandoned when the couple acquired it. The condition was deplorable. “The 1999 storm tore off part of the roof. It was raining inside the house. Many of the features, such as fireplaces and woodwork, had been looted,” recalls the owner. “Add to that the work done in the 1970s — everything had to be redone.”
Two years of renovations were necessary to make the castle habitable. The first task consisted of ridding the building of water. To rebuild the original roof, the owners called on the family business that has been in charge of the roof for a hundred years. “The roofers were a big help, because they know the area well. They were able to guide us through the restoration,” explains Anne. “The works were complicated, especially since we lived in the castle with our two young children at the time. The final touch was the fitting out of the swimming pool in 2004. It was our reward.” The spaces have been preserved as well as the original elements still in place: the parquet upstairs, the ceiling mouldings and the beautiful old wooden doors, just stripped. All other coverings have been changed, as well as the joinery on the ground floor. “We chose black metal doors to add a more contemporary touch. On the ground, we added checkerboard. I have always adored black and white; it’s chic and timeless,” confesses Anne. “I need to live in a refined environment to create.”
With its sober and elegant lines, the furniture matches the décor. It frequently varies according to the mood of the designer. “I like change. The furniture is transient in my house! As I renew them regularly, I never buy high-value pieces. On the other hand, I am in love with my objects, mostly brought back from Asia or gifted to me by my children. I will never part with them. These are my treasures. The cellar is full of them. I take them out whenever I want. There are two that do not leave my office: one a doorstop brought back from Korea and the other a black crystal Buddha from Baccarat.” Globetrotters, Anne and her husband share a common passion for Asia. Travel is a constant source of inspiration. “The Banks of the Nile,” “Borneo,” “Shandapur” — the wallpapers that Anne has been creating since 2008 — represent landscapes animated by picturesque and poetic scenes, inspired by the tradition of panoramas. Hand painted, they are now digitally reproduced in a printing house in the region to respond to the dazzling success of the brand. “This made it possible to democratize the product and meet growing demands. I’m very lucky; it’s an incredible adventure that my daughter Méliné joined this year, after studying fine arts. She is completely involved in our family business and takes care of the showroom that we have just opened in Paris.” Facing the vineyard, in her workshop located in the former cellar of the estate, the designer escapes to imagine her decorations evoking a nostalgic vision of the Asia of yesteryear. “Ananbô is the creative culmination of all these Asian images accumulated in me for years. As a child, I already dreamed of Asia. I imagined the landscapes over there without ever having seen any photos. I don’t know where it comes from. Maybe I was Asian in a previous life,” adds the designer, laughing.