A family finds their dream home in the former residence of a Lebanese aristocrat

In the Gemmayzeh neighbourhood of Beirut sits a group of traditional Lebanese residences known collectively as “the houses of Lady Cochrane”. The country’s most famous fashion designer, Elie Saab, lives in one. Business coach Carole Schoucair had long dreamed of renting here, but believed it was nearly impossible. Sometimes, though, timing is everything – and Carole happened to call the property management office the week someone had given their notice.

Lady Cochrane lives in a 19th-century palace just above the homes and is the only daughter of a Lebanese aristocrat. In 1946, she married an Irish lord and has long campaigned for the preservation of Beirut’s architectural heritage. She and her family have steadfastly refused to sell the houses, which they acquired in the ’60s, to avoid the risk of them being torn down by developers and replaced by high-rises. The home in which Carole lives with her film-producer husband and their two sons, Matteo and Thomas, dates from around 1885 and was temporarily turned into a school in the 1920s. 

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An 18th-century, gilt wood Italian chandelier hangs above a Paola Navone sofa in the sitting room. A graphic art piece by Raphaël Zarka holds court between two rooms.

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The ceiling light in the dining room is Cloud by Frank Gehry, while the table is 20th century French, discovered by Jacques Oueiss. Marble and iron tables created by a Lebanese craftsman sit in front of the sofa.

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The seating in the study is from Over the Counter in Beirut. The entryway features a 100 year old Bukhara carpet from Uzbekhistan.

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The homeowners host many parties, and guests usually congregate in the charming garden. Carole Schoucair at the entrance of her historic home.

Photography: Stephan Julliard | Tripod Agency
Styling: Sarah de Beaumont