Tour a Midcentury-Modern Home With Dazzling Views of the French Riviera. Jean-Eric Gnuva is as well-traveled as a worn-in passport. For years, the French businessman has crisscrossed the world in his role as a high-end residential property developer, becoming familiar with Paris, Monaco, New York, and more in the process. So when he decided to renovate his seaside home in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, Gnuva’s first request for the interior designer seemed appropriate: “He wanted the space to feel luxurious, almost as if it were an ultra high-end hotel,” explains Jean-Charles Tomas, founder of his eponymous design firm and the designer tapped to spearhead the project.
“Jean-Eric had been living in the home for over a decade and decided it was time for a change,” Tomas says. After spotting the designer’s talent in various magazines, the homeowner reached out through Instagram. And yet, being the level-headed businessman he was, Gnuva decided to start small. “Initially, the task was simply to renovate the kitchen,” Tomas says. Nonetheless, Gnuva was impressed with the work—so much so that he wanted more. “After the kitchen was done,” Tomas continues, “he asked me to redesign the rest of his interiors.”
The renovation, which was completed this past March, took two years and was made all the more complicated by the fact that the homeowner remained in the house throughout the process because of a global pandemic. “It was interesting because COVID-19 made everyone rethink their relationship with their own home,” Tomas says. “Jean-Eric just happened to be renovating his [house] during this moment of reflection.”
Like so many others, Gnuva felt the constrictions of working from home. And he didn’t like the limitations. “The pandemic influenced us to take out one of the guest bedrooms and turn it into his home office,” Tomas says. “No one knows the way we will live once the pandemic is over, but Jean-Eric wanted to ensure he was settled to continue working from home.”
Renovations were difficult for a multitude of reasons, but one of the main ones is that the structural elements of the abode could not be touched. Some might see this as a hindrance, but Tomas is not one of those people. “Within the primary bedroom, there was a structural column that, if left untouched, made everything in the room asymmetrical,” Tomas says. The new design took this visual interruption and leveraged it to a new advantage. “We put in a fake column, which created three little nooks. This really opened up the space and made it more functional with a bespoke desk, a small cabinet, and a lounging area for reading.”