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An Arcadia Abode Evokes the Sun-Dappled Countryside of France

A remodeled abode romances its new owners with francophilic flourishes.

In Kristy and Erik Kufel’s remodeled estate, traditional French details, such as pale blue hues, upholstered furnishings and light-colored wood, create a perfect picture of the Provençal aesthetic.
Using the couple’s original dining set from their previous home, interior designer Lori Clarke created an elegant gathering space for formal meals. “I moved this chandelier from a hallway to this room,” she recalls, “and I centered everything around the tall curio cabinet on the right, which reminded Kristy of Provence.”

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Isaac Bailey

To step inside Eric and Kristy Kufel’s Arcadia home is to be transported to the sun-soaked, lavender-scented countryside of France. A palette of crisp whites, dusty blues and blushing pinks intermingles with well-worn woods and stately stone—all illuminated by ample natural light. It is an enchanting effect that was carefully curated by the globe-trotting couple and their interior designer when they decided to remodel the home. 

“When our children were young, we took a sabbatical, and as part of the trip we spent a month in an old country house near a small village in the Loire Valley,” Eric explains. “We fell in love with the people, the culture and their innate sense of design. We wanted our home to represent the memories and inspiration we gained from our many experiences throughout France.”

In the main living area, a vaulted and coffered ceiling gives the room a grand feeling, while clean-lined transitional sofas upholstered in crisp white bring everything down to scale. “The Kufels do a lot of entertaining, but they didn’t want a fancy room,” remarks Clarke. “They also have three grown children, so the great room needed to be comfortable, conversational and cozy for gatherings with family and friends.”
A dual-sided fireplace, with one opening in the great room and the other warming the breakfast table in the kitchen, anchors the space with its elegant hearth and whimsical mantel vignette.

In addition to their love of the Loire Valley, Kristy also cites their passion for Provence. “Eric and I took a trip together to the south of France more than a decade ago,” she recalls. “We stayed at the loveliest bed and breakfast called La Maison du Paradou. The proprietors had redone this 16th-century carriage house with limestone and marble from the region and then filled it with the perfect blend of old and new furnishings and details. It was both comfortable and elegant.”

When they began the remodeling process, the Kufels shared photos of that carriage house with their interior designer, Lori Clarke, to give her an idea of how they wanted to transform their home. “That property is one of our happy places,” Eric says. “Its simple, clean palette with stone walls and incredible punches of color and antiques were the inspiration for the aura we aspired to achieve in our own home.” Kristy concurs. “We really wanted to take advantage of the great architecture of the house while still making it feel cozy,” she adds.

Top Left “Every other wood used in the home is so light, so I thought this dark wood bench had so much character, and it would warm up the interiors a bit,” says Clarke of the antique hallway seating. Top Right “The fireplace mantel design on the breakfast room side was inspired by homes in Provence that display collections of beautiful wood cutting boards and fresh fruit,” explains Clarke. Bottom Left Four vintage Hermes scarves serve as the centerpiece of the great room. Their delicate designs and feminine colors contrast with the rugged stone console below. Gilded light fixtures and velvet pillows add a hint of Versailles-inspired opulence. Bottom Right In the dining room curio cabinet, jaunty stacks of dishware and vintage serving pieces add intrigue to the massive furnishing. “Lori and her daughter Summer styled the inside of the cabinet in the most perfect way so that every time I walk toward that room and see it, I’m just so happy,” Kristy says.
“I’m a big fan of Impressionist art, and Lori did a beautiful job highlighting my favorite pieces,” Eric says of the gallery wall in the breakfast area. The combination of skirted benches and upholstered dining chairs paired with a more contemporary console beneath the paintings is an example of the merging of traditional and modern French styles apparent throughout the house.

 “This blend of aesthetics is comfortable, but there is a level of luxury.”

—Lori Clarke, interior designer

With the Mediterranean-style architecture already in place, the abode only needed an internal upgrade to achieve a modern French look. “When the Kufels purchased this home, it was styled in more of a traditional Tuscan aesthetic, with a palette of yellow, green and terra cotta hues,” remarks Clarke. The couple, however, had their sights set on a lighter, airier sensibility with a subtle hint of contemporary style. “Kristy likes more of the classic French country look, and Eric prefers more modern country, so I had to figure out how to incorporate both,” says the interior designer. 

Clarke achieved this balance of styles by blending various types of furnishings, finishes and decor throughout the home. Rustic wood benches, romantic light fixtures and sumptuous upholstery speak to Kristy’s love of traditional French style, while transitional sofas, muted area rugs and clean, simple lines add the modern edge that Eric desired. “This blend of aesthetics is comfortable, but there is a level of luxury,” notes Clarke. “It really tells the story of the Kufels’ traveling years.”

Another seating area features a classic blueberries-and-cream color scheme that is balanced out by ceiling beams in a rich espresso hue and a pop of green from a vibrant fiddle-leaf fig.
Blossoming branches—a favorite of Kristy’s—bring the essence of Paris in spring to the living room.
With its extra-wide dimensions, this hallway serves as the perfect spot to display artworks from Eric’s collection. “We added a mirror for extra depth and this lovely banquet decorated in stripes and florals in keeping with the French motif,” notes Clarke
After talking the couple into a canopy bed, Clarke designed the bedroom around the sophisticated statement piece. Curvaceous light fixtures, luxe drapery and a simple color palette create an aura of serenity in the master suite.

To add a dynamic touch to the interiors and create unifying focal points in the main living areas, Clarke designed a pair of stunning wall vignettes. “I built the whole design for the great room off of the gallery wall behind the breakfast table,” she says. “Eric is an art collector, and he had several works he wanted to incorporate into the room scheme, and I went searching for a few more. It was like I was on a treasure hunt. I had these great pieces to start with, but I found about eight more paintings to round out the collection, and then I had to find frames for all of them that had enough character. That wall really feels like the heart of the home, so it had to be truly stunning.”

The second vignette features a quartet of vintage Hermes scarves in gilded frames. “It was tricky because they all needed to be the same size and feature complementary colors,” says Clarke of her experience hunting down these silken statement pieces. “But coming back to the Kufels and saying, ‘Look what I found!’ was really fun.” 

From the charming master bedroom to the details incorporated into the hallways, the house is a glorious homage to the years the Kufels spent exploring France. “Eric and I are both home bodies, so when we started this remodel, we knew we didn’t want to feel like we were living in a museum—we wanted to feel like we were home,” Kristy says. With Clarke’s help, the couple have achieved exactly that sensibility at their new house, where “la vie en rose” is always within reach.

Interior designers: Lori Clarke and Summer Varin, Lori Clarke Design. 
For more information, see Sources.

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