To enter the world of my friend Lorenzo Castillo is to embark on a journey into the sublime, a fairy-tale dream of extravagance and magic. I have been to his magnificent apartment in Madrid many times, yet on each visit I discover something new that surprises and enchants me. Lorenzo is a master of mixing and layering textures, patterns, colors, styles, and periods. Everything works, as if in a spell, to create an otherworldly visual balance. What makes the journey even more special is that despite the perfection and lavish detail, the spaces he creates always feel easy­going. Such is certainly the case in one of his latest projects, a pied-à-terre on the Left Bank of Paris that he designed for a Spanish client and his French wife. I recently spoke with Lorenzo, who is currently staying with his life and business partner, Alfonso Reyero, at their 1930s mountain retreat outside of Madrid, about the striking interiors he designed for this Parisian apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower. What follows are his eight tactics for creating luxe interiors that are both grand and welcoming.

dining room with blue leather chairs and metal chandelier
The dining room of an apartment designed by Lorenzo Castillo in a Haussmannian building on the Left Bank of Paris. The table and chairs, in a Mariano Farrugia leather, are custom, the bench is covered in a fabric from the Lorenzo Castillo Collection, and the chandelier is by Frederik Molenschot for Carpenters Workshop.
Ricardo Labougle

Find clients who are willing to take creative risks.

“This was a young international couple with four children.Their apartment is in a 19th-century Haussmannian sandstone building with high ceilings, neoclassical wood paneling, marble Pompadour-style fireplaces, and original gilt-bronze fixtures. They trusted me and gave me free rein.”

Do something shocking in the entrance.

“Artisans from Seville were brought to Paris to paint the apartment moldings and doorframes in a faux-malachite pattern, in a Russian imperial style. This is contrasted with deep lapis lazuli velvet–upholstered walls. It’s traditional but at the same time quite dramatic. A hidden door in the hallway leads to a powder room with walls clad in Chinese red lacquer–finished cotton. It also has an Italian green marble basin and matching floor. The contrast of the colors and textures was risky but turned out beautifully.”

malachite painted entry hall
Castillo brought artisans from Seville’s La Colorería to create the hand-painted faux-malachite finish on the entry’s moldings and doorframes, which sets off walls upholstered in a custom velvet. The bench, in a Zoffany fabric, console, and bronze pendant are all custom. The sconces are from the 18th century, and the painting is by Robert Rauschenberg.
Ricardo Labougle

Give the eye a rest after such opulence.

“I would not say the palette in the rest of the apartment is neutral, just calmer. The homeowners wanted something fresh, carefree, and young. In the living room, I mixed different tones of bright blue with yellow and green. The color scheme highlights the family’s fabulous contemporary art and antique French furniture collection. The total renovation took about 10 months. We maximized the natural light and beautiful views. The apartment’s formal rooms and master suite now face the main facade, while the library and children’s rooms are oriented around the classical courtyard.”

Even a sophisticated space should feel cozy.

“I always try to create a space that looks lived in, warm, and welcoming, and not like it is just a showcase. This mood can be achieved through color and lighting, but it is also important to incorporate personal objects—these are memories of our life, the things that make us who we are. I don’t understand interiors that don’t have such essential pieces as antiques, art, and personal books.”

family room with orange sofa
The family room’s sofa, chair, and ottoman are custom, the stool is by Marc Bankowsky, the pendant is by Stuart Haygarth, and the artwork is by Pascale Marthine Tayou.
Ricardo Labougle

Pick rooms where you can be a little crazy.

“Usually, these are spaces in which you don’t spend a lot of time, like an entry or a library. The library in this apartment doubles as a family room. It is colorful and bright, with a turquoise geometric pattern on the walls and burnt orange–​velvet upholstery on the sofa. The Napoleonic-inspired walnut, oak, and ebony bookshelves hide the TV and music system. I also love bathrooms because in these spaces you can role-play without limits. If you want to feel like a movie star, create a world of marble and bronze and lots of mirrors. Here, in the master bath, I mixed complicated marble veneers with brass doors and framed mirrors.”

Don’t hide the kitchen.

“Spanish tradition places the kitchen far away from the dining room in order to avoid noise and smells. But today my clients often want kitchens to be connected to dining rooms. Here, I designed both spaces to be equally stunning. The kitchen has a breakfast area with an upholstered velvet bench and an oak table made by my carpenter in Spain. The cabinets are in a high-gloss dark green paint, and the counters are Nero Marquina marble. The dining area has a long custom bronze table with a Gothic Revival–style banquette and traditional Spanish chairs in blue leather.”

Tour a Vibrant Paris Apartment by Lorenzo Castillo
paris apartment by lorenzo castillo

Create a story.

“My fabric collections always start with a story that I invent. For my latest one for Gastón y Daniela [available through Kravet], I imagined a young, handsome, aristocratic English gentleman coming back from India through the Mediterranean with stops in Alexandria, Patmos, Naples, and Menorca. There are Indian cottons block-printed by hand with paisley, Greek key–patterned cut velvets, and lots of colorful flowers in addition to solid cotton and linen velvets in the most beautiful range of shades and colors.”

Focus on quality and perfect craftsmanship.

“When I started designing, I was impetuous and less reflective. My style has matured. I’m more concerned with the small details. I have always drawn on my degree in decorative arts and my background as an art dealer. I think it’s what differentiates me. I have also learned to be very respectful of the taste of my clients. Still, I’m never afraid to say what I think. I actually believe that is part of my success.”

elle decor summer 2020 cover
Ricardo Labougle

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of ELLE Decor. SUBSCRIBE