A cottage for two surrounded by greenery

An abandoned Chalet shines again thanks to designer Charles de Lisle

Who said you can’t get beauty out of everything? Interior designer Charles de Lisle has managed to do a magic by transforming an abandoned shed in the middle of the overgrown vegetation of Sonoma County, in a bucolic vision of great simplicitybut full of charm.

Charles de Lisle in the kitchen. Around the table, which comes from the designer’s family home, are vintage chairs by Josef Hoffmann. A lamp by Charles de Lisle for The Future Perfect rests on a shelf.Ph Eric Petschek Styling Dung Ngo

“It looked like a cult cave,” de Lisle says of the dilapidated structure and its crooked decor: black-painted walls, a huge red-and-black yin-yang symbol on the floor, strange plastic buddhas in the alcoves, and a cheesy DJ console. . And then mattresses scattered on the floor and a rusty tub highlighted the Dickensian atmosphere of this dilapidated shed. “There were people sleeping here and growing marijuana. In short, a bad place. We gave it the nickname ‘Brojo’,” says the designer. It all started when de Lisle bought a 4-hectare plot to spend the weekends with her partner, Ralph Dennis, design director for Steven Volpe’s studio. The property included a two-bedroom main house, a late 19th-century barn in redwood, a chicken coop and two small houses (the Brojo cottage and its own bathroom). , who had begun renovating the main building and then abandoned the project, had landscaped a garden complete with a koi pond and waterfall, and also sowed non-native plants: left to themselves, thanks to the mild climate of Northern California, these were “grown to elephant proportions.” The vegetation was out of control now and there was rubbish everywhere. We filled and removed seven trucks full of rubbish, “they remember Lisle.

Outside the house with the bathroom Thinking man’s chair by Jasper Morrison (Cappellini) and a small bathtub in Japanese cedar.Ph Eric Petschek Styling Dung Ngo

First, he renovated the Brojo hut and the small house that houses the bathroom to have a place to live, while he and a group of builders, artists and friends were busy tidying up the ground for the renovation of the main house. After an important structural reinforcement work – the shed was about to sink into the ground – the transformation of Brjo was carried out with a few strong coats of paint, plywood and the insertion of windows with redwood frames, which were rediscovered in a nearby air force base. “I enjoyed playing without having a specific plan. I did not have to ask for any permission, and I found it incredibly liberating, ”de Lisle explains. Brojo’s decor is a cheerful mix of different objects, designer or of unknown origin, including chairs by Gaetano Pesce and Max Lamb, an armchair by Hans Wegner, two daybeds in Charlotte Perriand style, Moroccan rugs and a table from the 1960s from the designer’s family home. “I have always had some of these things, these are items that I like or that I have not been able to sell. In practice, it looks a bit like a garage sale of used items, but sophisticated », says de Lisle about her collection based on pure simplicity.

In the large living room, the two wicker chairs highlight the rustic atmosphere of the room.Ph Eric Petschek Styling Dung Ngo

The same free approach also characterizes the independent house with the bathroom: a antique japanese tansu dresser, a graphic lamp by Isamu Noguchi, a vintage rope chair by Bas van Pelt and a knotty pine screen from the designer’s old office in Hayes Valley harmonize as in a conversation between friends. This too, like the cottage, evokes the simple beauty of the first interior designed by Frank Gehry. When asked if his partner – also a well-known interior designer – has contributed to the project, they hesitate Lisle: “Ralph and I are all talking about design, so it was impossible not to discuss our house. But these are obviously not the kind of projects that Ralph does with the Volpe studio. So he enjoys cooking and tending the garden while I work with the digger and move stones here and there. This crazy project is my madness and I can not explain to you how happy it makes me ».

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