About French Loft
After working in advertising in London the Leach family swapped Soho for Sussex. Rowland and Mary Leach bought West Stoke House, a beautiful country home near Chichester. After a year of decorating and restyling they were ready to open for business. West Stoke House went on to become a Michelin Award winning hotel for almost 10 years. It was a clever combination - an extraordinary restaurant with glamourous rustic chic rooms set on the edge of the South Downs. As a privately owned hotel, with 14 bedrooms, two dining rooms, garden terraces, lobby, as well as endless staircases and corridors, Rowland enjoyed the process of perusing the continent for unusual pieces. His choice of furnishings and antiques were perfectly judged and gave the hotel its signature look of luxurious cosiness. Within a year of selling the hotel, a restaurant, Amelie and Friends, had been designed, staffed and sold. The couple were at a cross-roads - stay in the world of hospitality or follow their passion for design. Rowland realised his was an unusual enthusiasm for the 6am starts to scour the antique fairs and markets - he is a buyer at heart and he has great eye for outstanding and creative finds.
French Loft, the name given to the interior design, furniture and home goods business, is based in an old brewery building, in a quiet street a stones throw from Arundel medieval castle. The chosen objects which fill the warehouse are a personification of Rowland’s taste - the giant industrial factory lights, the mid-century modern chairs and the faded French 19 century armoires. Rowland does things in a fantastically unsnobbish way and his approach to design is very levelheaded. It's never about the latest thing, but where beauty and utility are intrinsic to objects you like to see, touch and use everyday.