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8 Lavish Drawing Rooms in High Society Homes

Luxury Defined tours eight exclusive homes, each with its own interpretation of the iconic drawing room

The drawing room: The very words conjure images of grand gatherings from a glamorous, distant age. A curtailment of withdrawing, the drawing room was a great house’s private room to withdraw to from a public space, where residents and their guests could retreat to ornate reception rooms for lavish after-dinner soirees set to chamber music, for polite conversation with visiting royalty, or, perhaps, a rubber of bridge.

In this Luxury Defined collection, we feature eight drawing rooms that echo to the spirits of an opulent, golden age. Whether it’s in a grand Venetian palazzo, a fashionable Parisian apartment, or a stately manor house in the Irish countryside. If you listen carefully, you might hear them still.

1. Kilmurry House in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland 

Elegant Drawing Room in Kilkenny, Ireland
Once home to acclaimed Irish painter Mildred Anne Butler, Kilmurry House was expertly refurbished for the 21st century while retaining the integrity of the original Georgian design. The Palladian-style manor house’s classically scaled reception rooms include an elegant drawing room with views of the estate’s private lake.

Kilmurry House was the birthplace and lifelong home of Irish watercolorist Mildred Anne Butler and inspired many of her finest en plein air paintings.

The great house itself, executed in timeless Palladian style and set within a private demesne in excess of 90 acres in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, dates from 1690. Butler’s father, Captain Henry Butler, grandson of the 11th Viscount Mountgarret, purchased Kilmurry House in the late 1800s, and it remained in the Butler family until 1981. The current owners extended the home to 17,861 square feet with eleven bedrooms and eight bathrooms while retaining the order and symmetry of the original Georgian design.

The reception rooms are grandly proportioned and embellished with ornately carved fireplace mantels and crown moldings. The drawing room has a view over the lake. The orangery (once Butler’s studio) was restored to its original 18th-century dimensions. The grand ballroom, flower room (today a games room), and vast chef’s kitchen are further highlights of the main level. The courtyard cottage could be used as staff quarters as could the original two-bedroom gate lodge. The resplendent two-acre walled garden is quintessentially Georgian in its scale and symmetry.

Beyond are the wider grounds, a nature lover’s sanctuary, offering mature woodlands—a haven for wildlife, including otters, hares, red squirrels, and a pair of nesting eagles—as well as pastures for horses and livestock, paddocks, a children’s adventure trail with a zip line through the woods, and lawned gardens with space for a helipad.

2. Palazzo Lezze in Venice, Italy 

Drawing Room in Venice ItalyDrawing Room in Venice ItalyDrawing Room in Venice Italy

This magnificent piano nobile (“noble floor”) residence is on the third floor of a Baroque palace on Campo Santo Stefano, a splendid city square in Venice’s San Marco sestiere.

The main entrance opens to a grand hall with an elevator and staircase. The six-bedroom, six-bathroom home has been sensitively restored throughout. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the views across Campo Santo Stefano and the Venice rooftops. The original period details remain beautifully intact, with stuccoes and frescoes gracing the walls and ceilings, and parquet and Venetian terrazzo flooring.

Currently configured as two apartments, the residence could easily be converted into a single unit. With two kitchens, two dining rooms, and four grandly scaled reception/drawing rooms (all facing the square) there is ample accommodation for residents and guests. An attic, partially restored for use as a seventh bedroom, and several utility rooms are further amenities.

Campo Santo Stefano is situated between Palazzo Franchetti and the Istituto Veneto, about 10 minutes’ walk from Piazza San Marco. The San Samuele and Sant’Angelo Vaporetto water bus stops are close by. Residents can also take traghetto service across the Grand Canal or walk via the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge.

3. Residence #18A at 1500 N Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 

Library in Chicago, IllinoisLiving Room in Chicago, IllinoisLiving Room in Chicago, Illinois

The drawing room of this luxurious residence looks out on Lake Michigan and Chicago’s East Lake Shore Drive. Residence 18A offers 6,700 square feet of living space designed for modern living and entertaining.

An elegant foyer with a terrazzo and pewter floor leads to a grand drawing room with walnut-paneled walls. The formal dining room, with inlaid pewter and ebony floors, is served by a chef’s kitchen with an island, workstation, four ovens, and breakfast area. Adjacent is the great room, with a butler’s pantry, wet bar, and wine closet.

There’s also a wood-panelled library with a log-burning fireplace. The primary suite has two separate baths, two large walk-in closets, a sitting room, and an office. Three large additional bedrooms have en suite bathrooms. There’s also an exercise room which could double as a fifth bedroom. The apartment lives like a single-family home with a large room count, privacy, and space. There are two fireplaces, zoned central air, smart-home technology, and a laundry room with dual washers and dryers.

The building has been refurbished with updated freight and passenger elevators, windows, façade work, and landscaping. It is pet-friendly, full-service, has on-site management, a common courtyard, parking, and a modern gym.

4. Palladian-Style Manor in Biarritz, Pyrénées-Atlantique, France

Drawing Room in Paris, FranceBiranttz France Drawing RoomStaircase Biarritz, France

This grand Palladian-style manor is a few minutes’ walk from the historic heart of Biarritz, a prestigious coastal resort and surfing mecca on France’s Atlantic Coast. Built in the early 20th century by architect Joseph Cazalis, the Palladian-style residence has lost none of its Belle Époque grandeur.

The 7,535-square-foot floor plan unfolds across four floors. The garden level houses several palatial reception rooms. The entrance hall has a striking black-and-white, checkered marble floor and a curved staircase. Beyond are the drawing room, library/study, and formal dining room, all with high ceilings, wood floors, decorative finishes, and French doors out to the leafy grounds.

The 2,152-square-foot mezzanine level houses a kitchen and pantry, service rooms, and staff quarters. There are 11 bedrooms on the upper floors: four en suite, all with fireplaces are on the second floor, while seven further bedrooms and five bathrooms occupy the top floor.

A separate caretaker’s lodge includes two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and two-car garage. The meticulously tended gardens are landscaped with formal allées of plane and elm trees, specimen plants, vegetable and rose gardens.

5. Villa Ekbacken in Lidingö, Stockholm, Sweden 

Villa Ekbacken in Lidingö, Stockholm, SwedenVilla Ekbacken in Lidingö, Stockholm, Sweden

Once a residence for Canada’s ambassador, this five-story villa presides over a tree-lined ridge with panoramic views over the Lilla Värtan “water mirror” and the Stockholm inlet.

Built in 1912 by Nobel physics laureate Gustaf Dalén, it is the largest privately owned home on Lidingö, one of 14 islands in the Stockholm Archipelago. The architecture combines elements of Swedish Romanticism, as well as Art Nouveau and Gothic styles.

The floor plan encompasses 8,880 square feet of living space. Its highlights are the impressive drawing rooms with fireplaces, oak panels, ceiling murals, painted window vaults, and double-glass doors that lead out to the terrace and the pool deck.

Among the private quarters is a generously sized owners’ suite with a walk-in closet, guest rooms, and staff apartments. Surrounding the home are 1.3 parklike acres with grassy lawns, mature oaks, and pine trees.

6. Converted 18th-Century Townhouse in Cospicua, Malta

Historic Townhouse in Cospicua, Malta
This stone mansion is in the fortified harbor city of Cospicua. Built three centuries ago, the home’s vast reception rooms retain the splendor of a bygone age and the creature comforts of today.

Tucked away on a quiet road in Cospicua in the heart of the historic Three Cities of Malta and minutes from the bustling Vittoriosa waterfront, lies this meticulously restored townhouse, renovated to 21st century standards of comfort and lifestyle.

Built some 300 years ago as two adjoining dwellings, the residence retains period features such as arched ceilings, an original wooden staircase, and marble-clad working, open fireplaces. It has five air-conditioned en suite bedrooms, expansive living spaces, high ceilings with new and original beams, and masterly use of stonework throughout.

The main entrance hallway features an arched painted ceiling, leading to the central courtyard and its cool dining and lounge space. Farther along are a TV room, a large, contemporary kitchen with custom cabinetry and access to the wine cellar.

A small hallway leads to the large dining room with arched, high ceilings, hand-carved fireplace, and two Maltese balconies which provide plenty of sunlight. The capstone of the property is its sprawling, sybaritic roof terrace, with sundecks, shaded lounges, kitchenette, a pool, and 180-degree views of Valetta, the Grand Harbour, and the Mediterranean Sea.

7. Seahome in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts 

Gilded Age Drawing RoomGilded Age RoomSeaside Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

Seahome is a North Shore retreat in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. The 4.4-acre estate is situated on a private peninsula with vistas of Chubb Island, the Misery Islands, Marblehead, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

The main house is the original mansion, built in 1900 as a summer home for Robert C. Hooper (a Bostonian who founded the Boston terrier dog breed). The current owners commissioned Epstein Joslin architects and renovated and expanded the residence in three phases, completed in 2013. The stone façade encloses 16,000 square feet of lavish living space with six bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms.

The classically proportioned reception rooms can cater to grand-scale entertaining or comfortable everyday living. The drawing room is an ode to the past with its ceiling mural, gilded fireplace mantle, and monumental crystal chandelier. The banquet room seats up to 20 dinner guests under two crystal chandeliers. Grand oceanfront terraces and rooftop deck capture the vivid coastal landscape. It’s also a 21st-century home, with recreational options for year-round enjoyment.

Outdoors are an oceanfront pool and beautiful formal gardens with a reflecting pool, sweeping lawns, and patios for alfresco entertaining. Indoors is a life-size chess set and a grotto with an indoor pool and integrated spa. At the water’s edge is a charming circa-1925 stone teahouse with two bedrooms and two-and a-half bathrooms. A fully licensed deepwater dock with boat ramp and float and a small sandy beach are steps away.

8. Grand Duplex in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, France 

Drawing Room in Paris, FranceDinning Room in Paris, FranceView of Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

This palatial apartment on Paris’s prestigious Champ de Mars has a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. The ornate 7,201-square-foot residence occupies two floors of a fine turn-of-the-century Haussmannian building.

The beautifully renovated interiors are a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship, featuring hand-painted ceilings, elaborate marble work, Versailles parquet floors, and crystal chandeliers.

At the entrance is a stunning double-height hall with a grand staircase and a custom-made Bösendorfer grand piano. Farther along is a drawing room, library, formal dining room, and La Cornue kitchen.

The main floor also includes the principal suite, with a wood-paneled dressing room, luxurious bathroom, and private terrace, and two en suite bedrooms. The second floor comprises a fourth bedroom, cinema, massage room, hammam, sauna and a fully equipped gym.