What to do when you are mad about interior design and your favourite store has had to close...
A lesson in interior style: learn from the pros from the comfort of your own home
Style advice, design tips and decorating wisdom.
Today we talk to
Marianne, can you introduce yourself?
I have been renovating interiors forever. I started with my own houses, then my friends' houses, then the houses of my clients. I have been lucky in that the press has always talked about my work which really helped things take off.
I never really sought this job out.
It was kind enough to come to me!
My work sits halfway between architecture and decoration. I restructure and dress interiors, a bit like the work of a couturier. I have my style and I don't really make any concessions but of course I adapt it to my clients when I design an interior.
What does the concept of good taste mean to you?
It's a cliché that often comes from a very conservative background. It signifies the opposite of creativity and freedom.
What's at the top of your bucket list?
- That one day I will find the house of my dreams without having to knock everything down and start again. It's probably not realistic though!
- To find the time to write a book all about interiors.
To take a break and live in a different country where I can learn all about local artisanal traditions.
If you were an artist?
I could never choose just one! Facteur Cheval and Gaudi for their freedom,
Matisse for his joyfulness and approach to colour, Poliakoff for his subtlety and the way he puts colours together, Le Corbusier whose fresques I adore, Henri Michaux for his poetry, Romain Gary
for his panache... and so many others that I love!
How would you define your style?
I am very partial to the marriage of different styles, both in terms of time and space. In my projects I bring this out by mixing things from different eras and from different geographies so as to express a certain sensibility. It is also important for me that there is functionality, expressed simply and without pretension but always with creativity. And where possible I try to include works by artists and designers.
I don't create interiors to express social standing but as places to live,
places to take refuge from the
« storms of the sky and the storms of life, » in the words of the philosopher Gaston Bachelard.
Sofa cushions: how and how many?
Lots and as different as possible! I like to mix checks and stripes. Make sure you have enough for a serious family pillow fight!
Creating a show-stopping entrance
The entrance is always very important to me. They are a chamber between the outside and the inside world. You should immediately feel protected when you come home. I like to use strong colours like red to mark out this deeply symbolic area. If you have the space for it it can be wonderful to add a "view" with panoramic wallpaper, like an interior window, and cornicing to add a touch of sophistication.
Quels conseils pour l’éclairage ?
Il n’y a jamais assez de lumière dans les intérieurs.
J’opte pour un registre d’éclairage large :
très bien éclairé pour travailler, cuisiner ou lire,
et plus tamisé pour les soirées intimes.
Et je mixe : les plafonniers avec des appliques
et des points lumineux plus diffus.
Wallpaper: all over or just here and there?
I tend to use wallpaper parsimoniously, to wake up a room. Just on the lower or upper half of a wall for example, or, why not, just on the ceiling!
I used the cloud wallpaper by Fornasseti on a dining room ceiling for example.
The art of seeing things differently
How to approach a project
I always spend a lot of time with my clients before a renovation or redecoration project. I need to be sure that I haven't got the wrong end of the stick and that we are going to work well together. Next I discover the space and the real work begins. Reimagining a place so that you can move from one room to another freely and in a way that suits the owners is the first step. I try not to shake things up too much and really respect the architectural history of a space. I am always happy to keep charming features of a property whilst reworking them for a new way of life. Once the layout has been decided upon, I start to think through a preliminary decorative scheme, right down to the choice of fabrics, materials, colours and furniture.
How do you make the most of small spaces?
There is something really fun about small spaces which, to me, are reminiscent of the hideouts and tree-houses we built as children.
I call them my « urban cabins ».
The price of property has become so absurd in most major cities that we now see a whole new type of client with the kind of small properties that a few years ago would have been reserved for students or live-in staff. How to find a way to live in 11 to 25 m2? You need to make use of every last m2, and really think about what is essential. And accept that less really is more. My way of transforming these tiny spaces is to forget about the old "studio" idea and imagine them instead as real apartments with a specific area for each need, which I often demarcate using different colours. I separate spaces without ever shutting off the line of sight so there is always depth. And I pay a huge amount of attention to detail.
Fortunately refinement is not only reserved for those with a bigger budget.
Bespoke, built-in furniture or one-off pieces?
Je fais beaucoup de meubles sur mesure, tout particulièrement les rangements et bibliothèques que je tente d’intégrer au mieux pour les faire oublier. Et j’ajoute quelques pièces fortes chinées et/ou des grands classiques du design mais peu. Les stars de la maison restent pour moi les livres, les œuvres d’art, la musique et les parfums. Ce sont eux qui font vraiment vibrer la maison.
Je crois qu’il n’y a pas vraiment de secret pour une gamme harmonieuse. J’aime au contraire l’idée de n’avoir aucune règle. La Paint est pour moi très proche du goût. On sait assez bien définir ce qu’on aime ou non manger et cela n’a rien à voir avec une règle de bon ou mauvais goût. C’est au contraire très instinctif et personnel ; il en va ainsi des couleurs. J’ai parfois des clients qui pensent en couleur. Il suffit de voir leur façon de s’habiller pour comprendre qu’ils ne veulent pas d’un appartement en noir et blanc. J’ai moi aussi mon registre qui me porte vers des couleurs sourdes et douces. J’y trouve une profondeur des sentiments. Mais je suis parfois obligée de sortir de mon registre et c’est toujours une expérience enrichissante.
Paint & wallpaper
La Paint et les papiers peints
sont mes meilleurs amis, tout particulièrement lorsque j’ai un budget
serré. Ils me permettent de raconter immédiatement une histoire en
jouant sur les teintes et les formes des soubassements, des retombées de
Il m’arrive souvent de traiter les portes de placard comme des tableaux avec des aplats de couleurs ou de composer une fresque sur un mur. Les rééditions de panoramiques permettent de théâtraliser une entrée ou une pièce qui manque de caractère.
Marianne's shopping list