La Belle Maison

Classical elegance abounds in this European-style estate

Photos by Annie Schlechter

The chateau’s exterior features cut stone and elaborate ironwork that carries inside to the foyer, where it creates a sense of quiet grandeur and permanence.

When you first see the chateau, with its rich cream-colored exterior, delicately sloped rooflines, and 10-foot-high doorway framed by a pair of Corinthian columns, you can’t help but think it looks like something out of a fairy tale—or that it’s spent the last 100 years nestled in the picturesque European countryside, at the very least. But this charming home is actually brand-new and situated on 22 acres of rolling green hills in South Dakota.

Its owners, world travelers with a particular love of European countries, wanted to bring France back to Sioux Falls with an authentic Parisian-style estate, explains Bruce Kading, owner and principal of Bruce Kading Interior Design. To help refine the clients’ vision, he showed them photographs of historic French residences he and his team had collected before they turned the plans over to Jeff Murphy, president of Murphy Design Co. Murphy then brought their ideas to life with a grand, 10,000-square-foot home complete with a private elevator, a circular staircase leading up to a series of lovely guest suites, and a carriage house above the garage for a live-in caretaker. “We were all really excited about the opportunity to just go hog-wild with the details,” says Murphy.

Step inside, and you’ll find yourself in the foyer, where there’s something beautiful to look at everywhere you turn. Stone wainscoting, inset panels of wallpaper, and intricate plaster details dress up the walls and ceiling. Soft blues and grays run throughout, while custom Versailles parquet floors complement the antique furnishings the team sourced from around the world. “The home has a lot of warmth and character, and we designed it to be a discovery process. The more you look, the more you notice, so it keeps it interesting,” says Kading, whose own passion for European design is reflected in the authentic details and luxurious finishes he implemented. “We tried to have a lot of integrity in this project, going in-depth in everything from fabrics to wallpaper to styling,” he continues.

A marble fireplace with a wrought-iron screen takes center stage in the living room, enhanced by a backdrop of damask wallpaper.

Although designed in an 18th-century style, the main level was thoughtfully adjusted for modern functionality and features a series of rooms: living room, dining room, kitchen, and a solarium-style sunroom. Each possesses a distinct ambience, yet all are integrated in an open floor plan for easy entertaining, effortless flow, and an inviting atmosphere. “In a truly authentic old home, the kitchen would have been a smaller, closed-off space,” says Kading. “Here we have 10-foot-high ceilings and some wonderful architecture to fit today’s lifestyle of entertaining lots of people without being isolated.”

In the kitchen, marble countertops are accented by cabinets glazed in ivory and blue.

Even with the kitchen’s more modern layout, small touches remind guests of the historic character of the home. “Bruce used a pewter countertop on the island and mirrored transoms above the entrances to the kitchen to add an old-world feeling,” says Murphy. Those stately accents are also echoed in the metal range hood and leaded-glass cabinet doors.

The palette is echoed in the dining room, where a trio of French doors leads to a patio.

In the adjacent dining room, two wrought-iron chandeliers hang above the table, and a trio of French doors opens to an airy patio—a favorite feature in one of Kading’s favorite spaces. “I absolutely love the dining room and French doors, with the three sets going across and plaster beams like you’d find in England or France. And the wallpaper and formal French furniture we put in there really brought it all together,” says Kading.

The gracefully curving staircase off the foyer opens into a richly paneled vestibule, where a classic French quatrefoil graces the floor and a gilded gold ceiling soars overhead. “When you step off the stairs, you just feel like you’ve arrived in a really special place,” says Kading. Two guest suites open off the hallway, along with a space that was originally going to be used as an art studio, “but then became more of a retreat since it turned out so beautiful that no one wanted to spill paint in there,” he laughs.

Each of the suites is uniquely designed, from custom sinks to hand-painted wall panels—a specific request of the clients, who wanted the rooms to be individual so guests can feel they have somewhere special to stay. “That was a fun challenge because all the walls and ceilings are quite different from each other: Some rooms have vaulted beam ceilings, others have curved walls and woodwork, and others have elaborate paneling details and overlay. It was a fun opportunity to study French homes and find authentic details and ways to make each room special,” says Murphy.

The lower-level guest suite features a stately ebony four-poster bed and elegant bath clad in sepia-veined marble.

Rounding out the home’s wealth of amenities is the spacious master suite, which boasts its own sitting room, private terrace, and a painted mural aged to look like an old European landscape. Local artist Jennifer Kranz came in and created authentic patinas and finishes, glazing the home’s outdoor wooden shutters to make them look aged, along with railings, interior woodwork, and lighting fixtures. Cabinets were also hand-painted and sanded down to provide that old-world feeling.

“The nicest compliment I received was when an artisan asked what year the chateau was built because he thought it was a historic renovation and had no idea it was built from the ground up,” says Kading. “That’s exactly what we were trying to create. The clients wanted the home to look like it had always been there, and that’s something I love to do—make new things look as if they’ve been there for 100 years or more.”

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