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Inside the French home of celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer

The French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison
The French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

High on a hill overlooking the fields and valleys of the Midi-Pyrenees countryside, the medieval village of Cordes sur Ciel has become a haven for artists and artisans.

A world-renowned metal sculptor and mosaic artist, a painter, a stonemason and a violin maker are among those who draw inspiration from this 12th century French village, with its timber-framed houses whose sun-baked stone walls lean towards each other over steep cobbled streets.

It is in this medieval village – which celebrated its 800th year in 2022 – that Winchester’s celebrity hairstylist Guy Kremer has lived for the last 35 years, dividing his time between his house in Hampshire and his beautiful French home.

Great British Life: The French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

The artistic Frenchman, who has styled the hair of supermodels, pop stars, actresses and royalty, discovered Cordes sur Ciel nearly four decades ago.

'When I first walked through the cobbled streets in the sunshine, I could feel the powerful sense of history all around me,' says Guy. 'I went back a week later in the rain and I still had the same feeling, so I knew this was a place I could live.

'I bought a tiny little house that I restored. After a few years, as more and more friends came, the house became too small, so I bought the house next door, but more years passed and the house was still too small and we were missing a garden.'

Great British Life: ‘We wanted to work with the style of the house, but not necessarily keep it French,’ says Guy Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison‘We wanted to work with the style of the house, but not necessarily keep it French,’ says Guy Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

So Guy and his partner, Tai Stanley, found a mellow stone house carved into the hill on the south side of Cordes, warmed by day-long sunshine with a pretty courtyard terrace overlooking the fields and vineyards in the valley below.

As a professional hair stylist, Guy knows what it takes to make something look beautiful, and he and Tai have spent years making their home a work of art.

Dating back 400 years, the house is steeped in character, with huge rooms, beamed ceilings, exposed brick and stone walls and warm terracotta floors.

'The day-long sun means the house is full of light, and we have taken inspiration from the Baroque period to enhance the dramatic rooms,' says Guy.

Great British Life: The kitchen is where the couple’s friends meet while Tai cooks Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe kitchen is where the couple’s friends meet while Tai cooks Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

'Tai has a great interior design style and has the knack of finding pieces that reflect the history and character of the house. It is very eclectic; we have bought lots of pieces in the local antique shop and mixed them with more contemporary furniture and designer pieces Tai has found for a fraction of the original price online.

'All of the old armoires are from Cordes, and we have taken advantage of the local artisans living here and sourced original stone carvings and beautiful pieces of art.

'I like pieces that reflect my artistic nature, and we have everything from Tracey Emin originals to copies of 12th century tapestries, and stunning mosaic sculptures by Stanko Kristic, an internationally renowned artist who lives in Cordes.'

The kitchen is the heart of the home.

'This is where all our friends meet, with Tai cooking and everyone else around him talking. We have a French range cooker and a huge vaiselier – which is a French dresser – where we display our beautiful china and glass.

Great British Life: Tai has the knack of finding pieces that reflect the history and character of the house Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonTai has the knack of finding pieces that reflect the history and character of the house Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

'When we first moved in, the furnishings didn’t match the size of the room – it looked like doll’s house furniture!

'We had seen a kitchen we loved by the British designer Clive Christian, and we showed photographs of his designs to a local furniture maker who recreated a similar look for us.

'The work surface is a pure granite and very thick; it was cut in one piece and it took eight men to carry it in. The crowning glory is the fabulous Murano candelabra, which we found in a local antique shop. It’s over a metre tall and two metres wide, so it needs a big room!

'Tai used Paint & Paper Library Squid Ink paint on two walls to enhance the drama and reflect the character of the beams. When a room is flooded with sun, it works well to use a very dark paint.'

The house has two large sitting rooms, both also featuring stunning chandeliers.

Great British Life: The beautiful solid-wood Ralph Lauren dining table Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe beautiful solid-wood Ralph Lauren dining table Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

'We wanted to work with the style of the house, but not necessarily keep it French,' says Guy. 'e have a lot of Ralph Lauren furniture in the gold sitting room – which has a huge open fireplace – and in the dining room, where we have a beautiful Ralph Lauren solid wood dining table with six large chairs and two carvers.'

The dining room ceiling features another impressive chandelier and has a stone fireplace with a wood-burning stove. Rich tapestries on the old stone wall are copies of the original 12th century tapestries in the Cluny Museum – the National Museum of the Middle Ages – in Paris.

Guy’s sitting room is rich in reds and golds, and features a stunning Chinese warrior horse, draped in fur. Guy and Tai commissioned the elegant sofas, and the heavy drapes came from Guy’s first house in Cordes.

'I call it my Chanel room,' says Guy. 'The table is a copy of the one in Coco Chanel’s house in Paris, and all the pictures on the wall are copies of Chagall, painted by me.

Great British Life: Guy Kremer and Tai Stanley. Image: Guy KremerGuy Kremer and Tai Stanley. Image: Guy Kremer

'I have pieces of William Yeowood crystal, which I love, and my fabulously opulent warrior horse, which we bought from a local antique dealer.'

The house also has four romantic bedrooms, featuring four-poster bateau beds, rich silk and velvet fabrics and beautiful objet d’art. One of the beds has a Tudor frame, sourced from Andrew Smith’s antique auction house in Itchen Stoke and with the original statues still in place in the pillars.

At the top of the house, Guy’s private apartment in the attic has a bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, dressing room and cinema room.

Great British Life: The bassin, surrounded by lush banana trees Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe bassin, surrounded by lush banana trees Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

Outside, the beautiful pool – or bassin – has stone gargoyles and lush banana trees.

'We had an area at the back of the house where nothing was growing so we decided to create a bassin - not deep, and with characterful stone gargoyles pouring water. On the side of the pool, we planted banana trees to give it a tropical Bali feeling.

'It was very tricky to do as we are on top of the hill and everything had to be brought in by hand and carried over walls. We couldn’t get any machinery in so it was very difficult to dig it all out – it took over a year to be done by hand.

'Everything was designed down to the last tiniest detail; the pool is all mosaic and Tai was very particular that the seal had to be exactly the same green-blue as the tiles.'

Great British Life: The French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

The courtyard garden with its silvery olives and fragrant orange trees overlooks the valley below, whose rolling fields change colour with the seasons.

'Working on our house has been a labour of love,' says Guy.

'We have created somewhere we love to spend time, and also somewhere that other people can enjoy, with something different and joyful to discover everywhere they look.

Great British Life: The French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon DavisonThe French home of Winchester's celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer, in the village of Cordes sur Ciel. Image: Au Coeur de Cordes, by Jon Davison

'We have had a summer kitchen built into the ground floor at the back of the house. Tai learnt to cook on the Australian Gold Coast and ran the very successful Yard café in Lymington for four years, which picked up multiple accolades and was featured in National Geographic Traveller.

'The plan is for him to run summer cookery classes, where guests will be able to stay in one of our beautiful rooms, learn to cook, visit the local markets and vineyards, and go truffle hunting.

'Our French home is a wonderful, magical, peaceful place and we can’t wait to share it!'



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