On a chic summer holiday on the Basque coast of France

I first saw Christine d’Ornano almost 10 years ago at a friend’s dinner party in London. As we chatted, I soon noticed – and envied myself – her perfect pink lipstick and brightly colored needlepoint clutch with her children’s names on it – a gift, she explained, lovingly hand-sewn by her mother. As I got to know her better, it all made perfect sense. Christine’s parents founded beauty brand Sisley, where she is now Global Vice President, and she’s often celebrated for her great taste, appreciation for beauty and very personal sense of style. Christine’s mother, Isabelle d’Ornano, worked with Henri Samuel on a sumptuous Parisian apartment that has been published several times over the years. (This place and others are the focus of a new book, What a beautiful world!, published by La Martinière/Abrams.) As Christine and I have become close friends over the years, I have witnessed her delight in visiting galleries, flea markets and small-town brocante to discover not only the very best work from well-known Artists and designers, but also carefully selected but unpretentious bric-a-brac that add a lot of charm and character to a room.

While Christine has already created two beautiful homes for herself – first in London and then in Paris – perhaps her most personal project is her summer beach house near Biarritz in the French Basque Country, overlooking the Atlantic. Christine, who grew up on summer trips to the area with her siblings, first saw the house she was going to buy while walking in the nature reserve that covers the countryside in front of it. It was a modest house, but it had a large terrace overlooking the sea, and she had a vision of what it might become. Because waterfront homes often require proper materials to keep the forces of nature close at hand, she wanted to understand how to transform it into a durable home. Christine gathered her own research on favorite local homes and others in popular surfing destinations and hired local architect Philippe Pastre to help execute the project. Wanting to keep the crisp white walls with rounded edges that the area is known for, she envisioned a large central fireplace with a Swedish-inspired tile chimney. She also wanted a bar right next to the entrance where friends could meet for a drink after surfing or gather before dinner.

The terrace table is covered with a D’Ascoli tablecloth. Pendant lamp by Fernando Oriol.

D’Ornano in front of windows overlooking the terrace.

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Mini Medici corbels by Atelier Vime

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Waves Linen by Liz Connell for Borderline

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Traditional Apulian flat plate by Fratelli Colì

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Wondering what she learned from her parents’ great sense of style, Christine shares that her mother taught her that it’s more important that things appear “sociable and not perfect.” And her late father insisted that “every room in the house should appear used and occupied.” This is evident in every room in Christine’s house. The white sofas in the living room have cotton and linen upholstery mattresses with comfortable pillows scattered on top; They’re invitingly casual and inviting, even for those in wet bathing suits and sandy feet. The kitchen is well stocked with an impressive collection of eclectic bowls, vases, glassware and tableware, “everything sourced from the local flea market and specially chosen to serve a specific purpose,” Christine eagerly notes. “My set of breakfast plates is $1 each. They come from an old porcelain factory. I love the idea of ​​recycling beautiful things instead of buying everything new.” I ask her how she puts together this great collection of items without making the room look cluttered, to which she replies, “The kitchen needs to have a good structure – a simple layout that lends itself well to cooking and tidying up. Having equipment and shelves in the right place creates a strong foundation for organization. And then any decorative pieces I add always have a function – whether it’s the perfect bowl for serving olives or the right-sized jug for mixing salad dressing. Nothing is purely ornate.”

A vintage Atelier Vime table sits next to an ensemble bed in a guest room. vintage carpet; D. Porthault linens.

D’Ornano designed the bar himself. The hanging lamp comes from Ingo Maurer, the vintage stools are flea market finds.

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Bishop Rattan Dining Table by India Mahdavi for Ralph Pucci

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Short surfboard designed by Jeff “Doc” Lausch at Surf Prescriptions for Cynthia Rowley

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Sheepskin Clam Chair by Arnold Madsen for Vik & Blindheim

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Ellie McNevin

Fig Leaf Beach Towel designed by Peter Dunham for Weezie Towels

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As for decoration, everything in the house has the same feel, carefully chosen and arranged to suit Christine’s life and that of her three beautiful teenage daughters, who are also all surfers. Vintage and new wickerwork, purchased from the famous French design trio Atelier Vime, can be found throughout the house. A much-envied Cassina Feltri chair by Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, crafted from felt and lined with a vintage American quilt, sits by the fireplace. The sheets are porthault, but instead of matching sets, the beds are dressed in a mixed assortment of brightly colored, intentionally clashing flowers. The shelves behind the bar are filled with French bar glassware, jugs and ashtrays adorned with iconic colorful graphics. There are also pieces like the metal hat stand/banister in the entrance hall that Christine designed herself and found local craftsmen to make. The play area in the living room is a chic quartet of tomato red Vico Magistretti chairs that harmonize perfectly with the vintage rattan gaming table. Anchoring the Room is a living tapestry designed by Alexander Calder to raise funds for victims of a 1972 earthquake in Central America. Every piece has a story to tell.

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