This week we're continuing our preparation to design a new client's French Chateau inspired home by diving into the elements that are prevalent in the architecture and exterior design of this style of home. Just as we saw last week with the interior design of a French Chateau, the exterior and architecture continues the trend of very magnificent, statement-making design. The theme continues to be that "the bigger and more expensive looking the better".
The below photograph of the Royal Chapel at Versailles demonstrates a number of architectural details that were regularly used in the design of classic French Chateaux. In this photograph you can see a true architectural marvel in the stunning barrel-vaulted ceiling which is made to look even more grandiose with the addition of these incredible oil paintings covering the entirety.
Photo Credit: Chateau de Versailles
The architects and designers of these classic French Chateaux were big fans of ancient Greek and Roman architecture and loved to incorporate Greco-Roman elements into the Chateaux that they designed and built. In both the above and below photos the arches and columns that were so popular in Greco-Roman architecture make a wonderfully impressive appearance in Chateau design.
Photo Credit: Chateau de Valencay
A majority of chateaux (especially in the Loire Valley) were built with the locally-sourced Tuffeau stone which is a type of limestone that gave them the gorgeous, creamy white variegated color that contrasted so splendidly with the slate roofs. This Tuffeau and slate pairing gave us what we typically consider to be the classic French Chateau exterior aesthetic.
Photo Credit: Chateau de Fontainebleau
Since the French Chateaux were built as country homes for the French aristocracy, the exterior design was as important as the interior design. The owners and their guests would retreat to their chateaux to get away from the city and have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors on their massive estates. The house itself only made up a very small portion of that estate and therefore the primary exterior portion was given as much care and thought as the interior.
Photo Credit: Palais de Compiegne
The architects and designers behind the grounds of a chateau would cultivate lush, wooded parks for hunting, immaculate grassy lawns for lawn sports, and beautiful walks lined with incredible statuary for those delightful evening strolls. Water features were considered a necessity so ponds and even lakes were created for ambiance as well as sport and often enhanced with truly impressive sculpted fountains.
Another exterior feature that became popular on the grounds of Chateaux was that of having an Orangerie. This was essentially an orange grove but instead of cultivating the trees in the ground as we are accustomed to in the States, each orange tree was housed in it's own small square planter. You can see these lovely little, well-manicured orange trees in their planters lining the walkway leading up to the Chateau de Fontainebleau in the previous photo.