What is your favorite last minute getaway to travel to?
I don’t know if I’d call it a last minute getaway, but recently I fell in love with the island of Paros in Greece, and I’m constantly thinking about going back ever since. Not only is it the most relaxing and beautiful place to escape to, but it almost feels like it’s been decorated by nature. There’s something very distinct about the whole country’s identity through colors, the crisp white walls, the bright blue on the roofs and windows, and within that frame they have such vibrant colors on their flowers and trees – like bright pink for instance. It’s a great lesson in mixing colors. The whole time I felt like I was walking through a curated color palette, which is so wonderful.
What are 3 genius tips that make a room pop?
My design philosophy has always been that your home should be an extension of you, and you should always feel, not only good in your home, but happy in it, and I’m so glad that mainstream design has veered towards that more and more in recent years. To me there are three elements that are usually overlooked by clients to make a room pop, and you can personalise them to keep your space unique.
Art is by far the best place to start, it can be as subdued, or as bold as you feel comfortable with, as long as it’s something that really speaks to you, because art will always be a reflection of the soul.
I also think pattern’s been underused for a long time, because just like colour, you can bring a whole room to life with patterns, so I’m really glad to see more options out there, from classic motifs to really funky stuff. And don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, it’s just like colour : forget the rules !
And last but not least, I would recommend always, always, always : a touch of humour. Having something that makes you smile everyday when you come goes a long way. I’ll take down to earth over luxe anyway of the week. Plus, it’s a great ice-breaker for guests.
Where do you draw your ideas and inspiration from?
My first approach to anything is always through colour. I have such a gut reaction to colours. And whether it’s in nature, or in art, or even food, the colour combinations I see in life tend to inspire my designs. I’m also a big cinema-lover so I’m always on the lookout for great set design in films. The purpose of the set is to make you understand the character living in it in a few frames, which I think comes very close to my own philosophy of decorating, so I’m always looking for new and interesting ideas to add to my repertoire.
Strictly decor-wise I’m extremely inspired by designers from all over the world, especially Australia, Spain and Russia. Their style really pushes the limit and breaks the rules and it constantly inspires me to be bolder. I spent a lot of time online, and on social media – which can be exhausting – but having access to this incredible pool of inspiration from all these different countries is such a gift for me. There’s nothing like being inspired day in and day out to keep your creativity going.
How do you feel about Velvet? It seems like a popular trend what is your take.
In my opinion velvet is a staple, pure and simple. I’ve had a red velvet sofa for 7 years now, velvet pillows, velvet clothes, so I am all in ! I think it’s an instant winner for me because of the way the texture affects the color. It creates instant warmth and interest, and you can literally feel the coziness from yards away. People can’t resist a texture like velvet, it’s like a hug !
Since it’s one of my go-to textures, I’m delighted that it’s back “on trend” at the moment, and in so many bold, amazing colours, because I can seize the opportunity and find amazing furniture or objects that will disappear once the new trend has arrived, and that I’ll get to keep for the next 10 years!
Do you find pillows and throws are a must accessory on a bed and couch/sofa?
I actually do. I am a pillow-and-throw addict and have way too many in my home. But in defence of the pillow, and the throw for that matter, I would say the comfort- colour-texture trifecta is what makes it a must in my mind. It’s like a one-man band! They’re both a blank state for your creativity, you can switch them out so easily and they really do have a tremendous impact in a room. And you’ll hear it time and time again, but it’s the easiest – and cheapest – way to bring to life a neutral palette or a rental to add colour or personality.
However, I have to bring up the now (thankfully!) defunct, trend of “the chop” as a way of styling pillows, which drove me insane. As a PSA to anyone out there still doing it : leave those poor pillows alone.
Please tell us about your Project Mathieu, what was the process in managing to create an open layout in a small space?
Well, with the right layout I think and open concept really is the best way to go in a small space. Sometimes wall separations really box you in, depending on your layout, and it turns out the space would look twice as big without it.
To me, and to Mathieu, the kitchen really is the heart of the home, so improving it was our main goal. It’s a place for helping hands, hanging around for hours after the meal, and long talks surrounded by those delicious smells ! You know that in France we take our food seriously, and I swear every party somehow ends up in the kitchen !
So when you have a bad layout and a cramped space, it’s no fun for the cook to have to spend his time alone in there with no place to sit and no room for other people to join him. With a set-up like Mathieu had, you end up just avoiding the kitchen after a while.
Once we knocked that wall down, we were so happy with the instant potential of the room, it really was a no brainer. We then designed everything around the new bar, and it allowed us to create a better flow for the entire room and to repurpose it completely.
An open concept allowed us to make both the living room and the kitchen bigger in one fell swoop – creating one big space for entertaining -, and to bring in a lot more light, so it was a win-win. Now the cook doesn’t have to miss a thing, the kitchen is much more functional, and there’s enough seating for both dinner parties, and the movie-nights that follow !
You mentioned in Paris, clients tend to prefer items that are not on trend and prefer to have a space that purposely feels like a designer was not apart of the design, where do you find these special unique finds in Paris?
To avoid ending up with the same decor as your neighbour, I think you really need to rely on these unique finds and once again inject personality into your space. Every client is different so I don’t have a go-to store that fits everyone but Paris has a great mix of collectors shops, curiosity shops and even boutiques with hand-made and imported objects and furniture that I love using. I grew my personal list while walking around the city time and time again, but things change fast in a big city and there’s new shops everyday. So I’m always on the hunt for new places, and for that, I look to off-beat city guides, and online blogs that explore the city. They usually have all the great new discoveries, but there is a bit of serendipity to finding these pieces I think. You have to be patient. And if I’m being budget-conscious, I’ll hit the smaller, weekly, flea markets and spend hours on our version of Craigslist (“leboncoin”), or even eBay, to score some great deals and stumble upon pieces I never even dreamed of using.
Finding unique items like these really takes time and commitment, but to me it’s what ties the whole room together, so I like making that extra effort to find them. And sometimes the project calls for a personal touch, which is even better : in my latest project I’m having my mother and aunt, both very talented artists, make the art for the space, which is very exciting!
What are neighborhoods that really help spark creativity?
I’m actually very lucky to live in one of my favorite neighbourhoods and a really creative one at that.
I live right in between the “Canal St-Martin” – a very hip and up and coming area, filled with nature, people, street-art, pop-up stores and trendy cafés – and on the other side is our version of chinatown, which is called “Belleville”. On that side, it’s definitely grittier, but full of bright reds and neons, and lined with markets full of exotic fruits and smells, all great for daily inspiration. Belleville is evolving as well though so you’ll find a beautiful and famous graffiti-filled street there, and cozy bookstore-cafés to sit and people-watch.
I do often visit the more known, beautiful places in Paris, like “Le Marais”, or even the amazing “Buttes Chaumont” park not too far from my home, but I think every single neighbourhood in Paris has its hidden gems.
My best inspiration comes from riding the bus everywhere, or walking- when the sun’s out. I go through so many different neighborhoods at once, and pad in hand I just write down every single place I want to come back to and explore, and I make my itinerary that way. It’s a great way to discover new shops as well. The city is full of surprises.