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Kathryn Ireland’s house guests were arriving. Some came with evidence of their professional lives, such as the BBC filmmaker who arrived with a camera, the yoga instructor whose mat was curled and tucked under her arm, and the L.A. interior designer who carried a sketchbook, ready to record ideas for new projects. The ten or so guests who were unpacking upstairs in Ireland’s twelve-bedroom home in the Tarn department of France were participants in her annual, week-long France retreat that fills up fast each time she holds one.


“I’ve been hosting these retreats here in my home for years,” says Ireland, one of the most recognized names and talents in the world of interior design, “because I get to meet fabulous new people, all brilliant, smart, accomplished. Just getting to know other people and hearing their stories and their journeys is inspiring. I learn a lot from them, and they learn a lot from each other.”


In part, Ireland is eager to share her home with strangers and friends alike because she understands something fundamental about our responses to where we live. “People have real love affairs with their houses, and this one is ongoing for me.” Although her full-time residence is in Los Angeles, she and her three (now grown) children spend months at a time in Southwest France. She revels in the fields of sunflowers she cultivates, the nearby antiques markets, and the many rooms that she and her family have occupied for more than thirty years. Of those sunflowers, she says, “When they appear, it’s a massing of yellow that is so overpowering and fabulous. I always tell the gardener to try to time their arrival exactly on my birthday, August 4th. Believe it or not, he does a very good job of making that happen.”


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This story appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of MILIEU.