Inspired by a Japanese-style sensibility and a unique location, architect Valérie Chomarat’s holiday home celebrates nature and family time

A quiet and understated sense of luxury, with azure waters, winding coastal roads and sun-kissed slopes, defines Bandol, one of the most prized destinations in Côte d’Azur in the South of France. It is here where French architect and interior designer Valérie Chomarat has decided to locate her family holiday home, in the peaceful town that she always imagined coming back to.

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Having learned the fundamentals that have driven her style from the British designer John Pawson, Chomarat placed a special emphasis on the primacy of proportion, space, surface, light, and shadow to frame the spaces of her 2,152 sq ft house.

In addition, Chomarat was inspired by the works of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who is known for his mastery of framing landscapes, which led her to create a subtly layered design where the home’s interior and exterior complement and connect to each other.

“Tadao Ando was always a great inspiration source since my first year in architecture school in 1998,” recalls Chomarat. “How we live with nature and how the light composed the space are the most important aspects. Lines, light, and volumes are the fundamentals to create architecture.”

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Like every project realised by Chomarat, the Bandol holiday home draws references from its location and surroundings—the nearby Ardèche forest and the views of the sea. The horizon became both the backdrop and the focus of the design of the existing building and the ground floor extension that Chomarat related to the patio and the pool with covered areas.  

“The horizon line, like a Hiroshi Sugimoto work, was the guide for this longitudinal extension and the horizontal openings,” explains Chomarat, commenting on the influence of the minimalist work of acclaimed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.

A series of framed views, elongated windows and doors, and stretched volumes amplify the home’s connections to the exterior vistas. These carefully orchestrated elements frame the landscape outside while countering the bright light of southern France. 

Applying the Japanese-style restraint towards the material and tonal palette of the home, Chomarat kept the walls, floor, and ceiling in the same colour, and used one local limestone for the treatment of the floor, worktops, steps, and terraces. Similarly, she utilised only one of type of wood—walnut—for all woodwork, from doors to cupboards to the kitchen and vanity millwork.

Throughout the home, Chomarat paid homage to the design classics that blend in flawlessly with the architecture and the exterior backdrops. Almost every piece had a personal connection to Chomarat’s family history.  

“I’ve incorporated a sculptural Isamu Noguchi pendant lamp that’s been in the family for years at the staircase,” recaps Chomarat. “And I have complemented design classics such as a Pierre Jeanneret bench and chairs by Poul Kjærholm with a vintage Vico Magistretti-designed lamp that was a present from my parents.” The pool area and its terrace also incorporated antique pieces and furniture that Chomarat has collected over the years.

All in all, Chomarat’s passion project, which took around four years in the making, places family at the heart of its design. As Chomarat attests, “My husband and our two sons were maybe my most demanding clients. We wanted to create a house where we could spend our holidays and time with friends, together. A place to meet each other, and a place where we could build souvenirs and moments as a family for years to come.” 

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