Ian Wallace | John Hersey
If you’re a fan of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau, or have seen photos of one of the 45 rooms in Château de la Motte-Husson, you’ll recognise Dick and Angel Strawbridge as the most fearless of decorators. With a taste for bold and whimsical design, the couple have transformed a once neglected shell into a vibrant family home.
Angel and her husband Dick purchased their beautiful 19th century chateau in the French commune of Martigné-sur-Mayenne in 2015, bringing the five-storey building back to life after years of neglect.
Here, we take a peek inside the chateau, and delve into the design details, styling techniques and finishing touches that we have long enjoyed on our screens.
This fabulous corner demonstrates some of the key characteristics of the Strawbridge interior design style. Curiosities abound – we love the butterflies mounted in swirling shapes up the wall – the wood is dark, but natural light floods in to counter its heaviness, the furniture is antique, and the styling relaxed with a touch of the unexpected.
Unique trinkets and vintage finds fill the home, and carry sentimental value. “My work room is filled with so many special memories that I have collected over the years. There’s old phones and royal memorabilia that I’ve picked up. And I’ve got boxes of this stuff!” Angel tells Country Living in our recent interview.
The grand living areas are a treat to look at, embracing true maximalism in the mix of colour, pattern, eras and design styles.
This use of colour is a clever one in a period home. So often, doors, floors and wall panelling use a mahogany or dark walnut, and some bold colour is needed to offset its richness. Metallic finishes do a similar job, plus they can bounce the light around the room – that fabulous XL wall art mixes the two effectively.
The Strawbridges have a quintessential French country kitchen, marrying the functionality required of a working room with the charming and casual styling so common in grand French homes.
The star of the show is the black range cooker, framed with an array of copper pots and pans – hanging your more attractive kitchen utensils from the ceiling or on a wall-mounted rail is typical of country homes.
The use of patterned tiles on the central island is a lovely one, and something that can be so easily replicated in your own home. If you don’t have a kitchen island, you can create a splash back in a similar style or a wall mural depicting sweet farmyard scenes.
The chateau’s whimsical bedrooms use elaborate antique beds, dressed in Angel’s own duvet covers and cushions, available to buy at several UK stores like Wayfair and Next.
Mixing new and old is something that Angel mastered early on. “In my early days it was all very thrift-led, but the fashions have changed over the years. I always used to pop into Woolworths when it was still around,” she says. “There are a couple of shops in France that I love, such as Maisons du Monde and Anthropologie. I also love those curiosity shops that you can wonder past. It can feel a bit too much if you only have second-hand items at home, so it’s nice to have that combination. We’ve got that real mixture of everything.”
In terms of a design philosophy, Angel embraces fearlessness. “What is the worst that can happen? Dick says that a lot to me. We can often be scared about doing things because we’re worried about the outcome. Even if you have to repaint something or sand it back, what is the worst that could happen? There aren’t many circumstances where things can’t be fixed. It’s all about giving it a go.”