What to do when you are mad about interior design and your favorite store has had to close...
A lesson in interior style: learn from the pros from the comfort of your own home
We turn to the interior designers who we particularly admire and who have been kind enough to share their tips with us.
Style advice, design tips and decorating wisdom.
Today we talk to
Caroline, can you introduce yourself?
I started my interior design studio Atelier CVD in 2018. It was a completely new departure as prior to that I had been a family lawyer. This is more than just a job though, it’s a personal achievement and a family adventure. My three children are my greatest fans (and are clearly somewhat biased) and my husband has worked with me from the start to build the business. For now, all of our projects are residential.
I am lucky to work with a team of hugely competent, passionate people who are totally committed to what we do. This is a profession where things take time and where you really use your instincts, whether at the early design phase of a project, or when choosing materials, furniture or decorative accessories. I love to seek out those one-off finds that will really suit my clients.
Your decorating mantra?
Trust yourself and take risks.
What do you think of the concept of good taste?
I would say that it’s entirely personal and also that it tends to evolve. For me I would say that it means mixing different styles in a way that remains harmonious and coherent with some singular details that give things a bit of a twist.
The top 3 things on your bucket list:
- To go on a safari with my family
- To go on a yoga retreat
- To take piano lessons
If you were an artist?
Your dream project?
To renovate a hotel, if possible in the south of France near the sea!
A current obsession?
I have two:
- Leopard print in any form (fabric, wallpaper, rugs)
- A new, bigger office for our studio
Le monde de Caroline
I was a family lawyer for fifteen years. I loved what I did and increasingly I really felt the need to build something with the people – the families – I was working with. Up until that point, interior design had been a pleasurable pastime, a breath of fresh air to help me relax. In 2017, I started to think about reorganising my professional life so that I could do something I really enjoyed. Before that I had loved renovating two apartments we owned together with an interior designer. I spent a couple of months helping out so I could really understand what the job entailed. At the same time, I did some courses to learn how to use the professional tools. Then we moved house and our flat became my first real project on my own. Some friends asked me to do their flats, then friends of friends and after a while word of mouth and social media did the rest.
Recently I employed one of my old interns, Elsa, who has also recently become an interior designer. She works with me across all of my projects which is vital as I really want to continue to be involved at every stage of a project, to be able to listen to my clients and understand what they want so we can work together to build what they had been dreaming of.
The mix of old and new
I love to mix the old and the new, whether as part of the redesign or the decoration phase. In the projects I work on, I often revisit the layout of a property to maximise space, especially the entrance so as to get it just the right size, the kitchen, which should be at the heart of the home, and the dining room which should be attached to the kitchen so it becomes a room for everyday use, rather than just a reception room. As far as the bedrooms are concerned, I like apartments to be comfortable and for everyone to have their own space.
We always try to keep fireplaces and to restore them alongside other, older elements such as the window latches, the locks and any coloured glass. We use old parquet flooring and moldings in any newly created spaces. I really love flats where the Haussmann features have been retained, especially when you mix those older elements with colour and pattern.
Bespoke carpentry is the best way to maximise space as you can build in storage in a way that also adds to the aesthetics of a room. Think about adding built-in bench seating in a hallway with storage for shoes, helmets etc, or in a kitchen that is too narrow. A built-in bed (not too high) in a narrow room can help improve the proportions and is an excellent way to add storage space.
Warmth and elegance
Bright, dark or chiaroscuro?
I love colour, contrast and brightness. I like to create a strong impact through colour in the entrance to a property for example. It serves to make the rooms going off it look and feel brighter. And I love lights. They have huge decorative value but can also help to highlight a piece of furniture or an object. And they can help to create the type of atmosphere you are after.
Hand in hand and by hand
We are lucky to work hand in hand with a team of artisans whom we love and use on all our projects. I love to share my ideas with them, to investigate how far we can push their techniques so as to always be able to propose new solutions and new ideas. I am full of admiration for their craft and they are totally indispensable to us.
A favourite fabric
Velvet, without hesitation. It’s warm, soft and comforting. I like to use it on curtains, upholstery and cushions. And I also love linen which works perfectly on a bed or for curtains.
What is your home like ?
It’s a Haussmann flat that has been brought up to date with clean and contemporary lines. And plenty of colours and patterns in soft materials. There are cushions and rugs everywhere. My friends say they feel very much at home.
Caroline's shopping list
Photographer François Guillemin