A touch of elegant French style has been brought to the city by a couple with an eye for ornate design.
Since opening its doors before Christmas, Chateau has seen increasing numbers of customers who can’t get enough of the chic French furniture on offer.
Before finding their current premises, next to Habitat, Leah and Guillaume McKeown, of Hawarden, ran the business as a wholesale operation from a base in Sealand Road.
“We originally sold ornate French-style mirrors then expanded into furniture and then chandeliers,” said Leah.
“It started when I was looking for a French-style mirror for myself and couldn’t find anything of the quality I wanted for a reasonable price. I went online and found what I was looking for. I realised there was a gap in the market so I decided to go for it.”
Leah has a long-held passion for French design. “Although my husband’s family live here, they are originally from France and their house is decorated in the French style, which I love. That’s where my inspiration comes from,” she said.
The showroom itself is packed with an array of stunning furniture from formal sofas and high-backed chairs to elaborately carved, over-sized beds. Although it is French in style, Leah actually sources it from Egypt which helps to keep the costs down. “We import it and have two 40ft containers arriving every month,” says Leah.
Leah and her husband have found that their passion for all things French is shared by their many customers.
“At first I couldn’t get enough mirrors to meet demand,” Leah said. “We sold out really quickly, but now we have a vast range, from three to eight feet, in all shapes and designs.”
Now Leah finds that she is often called on to give design advice to clients and has done the interior design at several hotels.
“Business is getting really good,” she says. “Our furniture looks expensive but the feedback we get is that it is very reasonably priced, given that it is such high quality. You have to give value for money in a recession. Everything we stock is carved hard wood such as mahogany.”
Leah combines a busy life as the mother of three young sons, aged seven, six and 20 months, with working hard with Guillaume to establish the business in the city.
“I work six days a week and Guillaume works seven days,” she says. “As well as the showroom we still sell online. Our best sellers tend to be the mirrors, love seats and Louis beds.
“Opening in Chester was a great move for us,” she added. “It’s a great location and a great space – the frontage with the pillars is amazing.”
Leah puts their success down to people wanting something different.
“I think people have had enough of flat pack furniture. They want something that lasts. Our furniture will be the antiques of tomorrow.”
For further information visit the website: www.chateau.co.uk.