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The Drawing Room: High Society at Home

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

The drawing room: The very words conjure up 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 six drawing rooms that echo to the spirits of an opulent, golden age. Whether it’s in an 18th-century Irish country house or a glamorous 1920s Parisian apartment, if you listen carefully, you might hear them still.

Seafield House in Donabate, County Dublin, Ireland

This Palladian manor house near Dublin underwent a contemporary renovation yet retains its elegant, yet comfortable formality. The Georgian core includes the great hall, adorned with paintings from the school of William van der Hagen, and a drawing room with a magnificent fireplace rescued from a castle at Lough Lomond.

Ireland has a rich history of magnificent country houses, yet few are as convenient to Dublin as Seafield House, just nine miles away. The magnificent estate is an oasis of tranquility surrounded by 80 acres of forestry, parklands, and formal gardens with views across the estuary to Malahide and the mountains beyond. The Grade I-listed manor house is thought to be the creation of classical Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, who built the Irish Houses of Parliament. The main villa, with its stately, three-story Georgian facade, was built in 1730. The west wing, notable for its striking Italianate tower, was added in 1857, as was the coach house and stable yard with its charming clock tower. In 1996, the property underwent an extensive restoration and contemporary upgrade. The Georgian core retains its elegant, yet comfortable formality. This extends from the great hall, graced with paintings from the school of William van der Hagen, to the two drawing rooms and the dining room, with its original Adam fireplace. The kitchen is the heart of the Victorian wing, which also includes a scullery, study, and a staircase to the Italianate tower. There are eight bedrooms, including a luxurious owner’s suite. The lower ground floor features a wine cellar and a large den. To the front and rear of Seafield House are beautiful formal gardens. The wider grounds include a gate lodge and courtyard apartment. The land to the rear is in tillage, with some 15 acres of forest, which lends to the atmosphere of privacy and seclusion.

Grand Duplex in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, France

Guests can admire the views of the Eiffel Tower from the drawing room of this splendid Parisian residence on the Champ de Mars.

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. Further appointments include a drawing room, library, formal dining room, and La Cornue kitchen. The principal suite, with wood-paneled dressing room, luxurious bathroom, and private terrace, and two en suite bedrooms, are also on the main level. The second floor comprises a fourth bedroom, cinema, massage room, hammam, sauna and a fully equipped gym.

Neoclassical-Style Mansion in Athens, Greece

This Neoclassical-style 1920s mansion in Athens was designed for grand-scale entertaining. The drawing room is a grand affair with its Louis XVI-style gilded doors, crystal chandelier, marble fireplace, geometric patterned marble floors, and decorative plaster ceiling.

This glamour of the 1920s lives on at this grand villa in Palaio Psychiko, Athens’ most prestigious suburb. The sumptuous 11,098-square-foot home exudes Old World elegance. The reception rooms are ornately adorned with hand-carved oak panelling from the Château de Chantilly in France and oak doors graced with Louis XVI-style gilding. The entrance hall impresses with its geometric patterned marble floor, gilt-panelled walls and moldings, and frescoed ceiling. The drawing room has several conversation areas, a marble fireplace, and an ornate plaster ceiling crowned with a crystal chandelier. The banquet room, which can seat up to 60, formal dining room, and breakfast room are served by a fully equipped kitchen. The study is exquisitely embellished with carved, wood-panelled walls and a patterned marble floor. The rear terrace is suited for alfresco entertaining and features a carved marble balustrade designed in 1893 for the French Embassy in Athens. Beyond are tree-lined gardens and a 62-foot swimming pool with a columned sun terrace and a pool house, currently an artist’s studio. The carved oak staircase in the entrance hall is another splendid detail and rises to five second-floor bedrooms, including the main suite, with its ornate ceiling, gilt-panelled walls, and French doors opening to a private balcony. An elevator and service staircase provide access to the lower-level staff quarters and five-car garage.

Château-Style Manor in Saddle River, New Jersey

The gilded drawing rooms of this French-inspired château in Saddle River, New Jersey, invite formal entertaining both grand and intimate.

Styled as a grand, 18th-century French château, this custom-designed home on two gated acres in Saddle River, New Jersey, invites entertaining on a grand scale. The magnificent gold limestone façade, imported from Jerusalem, encloses 19,000 square feet of opulent interiors adorned with coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, gold leaf moldings, hand-painted walls and murals, and polished, hand-cut marble floors throughout. Monumental wrought-iron doors open to a two-story entrance foyer with Ionic marble columns and a sweeping, double bridal staircase. Off the foyer are several stately reception rooms, including a piano room with custom fireplace, a palatial great room with coffered ceiling and fireplace, and an oversized formal dining room. This floor also offers a wood-panelled library, family room, and vast chef’s kitchen with two islands, top-of-the-line appliances, and breakfast room. A commercial-grade elevator with wood paneling and marble flooring serves all four levels of the home. The second floor comprises a second great room and four bedroom suites including the luxurious main suite with its spa-style bathroom, mirrored dressing room, and walk-in closets. The top floor is a bonus space with a full marble bathroom. The lower level is an entertainer’s paradise with a billiards room with fireplace, a golf simulator, movie theater, recording studio, gym, and temperature-controlled wine cellar. There’s also a guest suite, mudroom, and powder room. Outside, the resort-style pool offers a water slide, four waterfalls, and a grotto. A terrace, finished in dolomitic limestone, has a cabana with full bathroom and shower, changing room, and kitchen.

French Provincial Estate in Potomac, Maryland

Residents of this French provincial manor house in Potomac, Washington, can entertain formally in the home’s sumptuous reception areas, which include a drawing room with marble floors, antique fireplace, and recessed ceiling with crystal chandelier.

An homage to French provincial architecture and design, this 14,500-square-foot mansion sits on two level acres at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in the leafy Washington, DC, suburb of Potomac, Maryland. Residents can entertain in grandly appointed rooms with high ceilings, moldings, millwork, imported chandeliers, and other opulent finishes. The grand foyer features marble floors with custom inlay, a dramatic curved staircase, and hydraulic elevator, which opens to a stately drawing room with carved stone fireplace, decorative ceiling with crystal chandelier, and a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the landscaped grounds. This floor also offers a family room, chef’s kitchen with Thermador appliances, and separate staging kitchen for catering formal events (a third kitchen is in the attached guest apartment). The upper level houses the owner’s suite, with a separate sitting room with two-sided fireplace, marble bathroom with sumptuous Roman soaking tub, and a private terrace. The fully finished lower level is infused with natural light and includes a wet bar and billiards area, 10-seat movie theater, wine cellar, sauna, and guest suite. It opens to the rear terrace with dual staircase to a lower patio and gardens and covered dining area on the main level.