Château Chic

A sprawling, French Normandy-inspired retreat becomes both charming and comfortable at the hands of a dream design team

After living at Chateau Elan for 16 years, Teresa and Allen Hughes, a pair of retired empty nesters who love to travel and entertain, decided to put down roots in the sprawling town of Braselton, Georgia. Equipped with 20 acres of land, the Hughes knew they’d require a design-build dream team to complete the job, so they enlisted the talents of architect Yong Pak, interior designer Gretchen Edwards, project manager Alan Webster with Benecki Homes and landscape architect Richard Anderson. The result: a French-inspired manse whose striking, Normandy-style architecture and carefully layered interiors create a timeless retreat that feels connected to the outdoors.  

“Teresa’s dream was French country, and I loved everything about that,” says Edwards. “She’s traditional and conservative but didn’t want it too formal.” To achieve this vision, the team incorporated French-inspired details throughout, including limestone surrounds and stucco on the exterior, and a Venetian-style plaster finish on the walls of the foyer, living room and breakfast room. A boiserie French wood paneling adds interest to the formal dining room. Pak also incorporated soaring ceilings and an abundance of authentic French windows and doors sources from Normandy, which let in plenty of sunlight and take advantage of the property’s views. “Those are the real deal,” says Pak. “I tried to bring the outside space in. This house lives very modern but we tried to bring a Normandy country house feel to it.”

To complement the architecture and keep living areas from reading too sparse, Edwards paid close attention to scale, layering antiques, patterns and organic elements to add warmth and bring the outdoors in. “I always love bringing elements of nature,” she says. “It was very easy to accomplish that here. Everywhere you turn and look, there’s a gorgeous nature vignette out every window.” 

In the expansive living room, Edwards broke up the space by creating a seating arrangement featuring herringbone sofas from Webb Marsteller and a pair of chairs that belonged to the Hughes, which she reupholstered in a Duralee fabric. To cultivate a sense of ease, Edwards also incorporated subtle patterns and neutral hues borrowed from the rug and nature-inspired drapery fabric. 

While many of the home’s walls are plaster, Edwards took a different approach for the sizable master bedroom, enveloping the oval-shaped space in softness by paneling the walls in a Duralee fabric and covering the floors with wall-to-wall carpet. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of the outdoors. “It like stepping into another world,” she says.

The same can be said for the overall result, thanks to a hardworking team who spared no detail in catering to the Hughes’ every need. “I couldn’t be more pleased,” Edwards says. “It’s so rewarding to me that they enjoy living here and are as comfortable as they are and enjoy it as much as they do.”

ARCHITECT Yong Pak, Pak Heydt & Associates, (404) 231-3195; INTERIOR DESIGN Gretchen Edwards, Gilstrap Edwards Interior Design, (404)869-4401; BUILDER Alan Webster, Benecki Homes, (404) 250-0999; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Richard Anderson, Richard Anderson Landscape Architect, (404) 892 1788;