From a Parisian apartment to a house in Bordeaux with stunning proportions. From two to three children. From a career as a buyer in digital and IT to that of the founder of La Gaité, and a brand new way of life in Bordeaux. It goes without saying: Sophie Favre never takes anything for granted! Partnered in life by Édouard Le Roy (who’s at least as crazy as she is!), the former Parisienne has been living in a daydream for the past two years. A new beginning that really took shape during a lightning visit to Bordeaux. That weekend, after exploring no less than nine properties, the couple began their tenth viewing. It was love at first sight. A love so visceral that it gave Sophie the strength to convince her husband. “This is the one,” she told him gently, knowing perfectly well how much work needed to be done. Because there certainly was. With a ceiling height of over 4 m in most of the rooms, the family has to occupy not only the floor space but also height. These are two challenges that the new owner had already thought about when the time came to move in. Some strong elements were required to meet the first challenge. “A central island made of polished concrete and wood in the kitchen, a massive table in the dining room and a base unit to delimit space between the dining room and the living room.” To meet the second, the lighting was crucial. She chose the light fittings extremely carefully, often in suspended versions, as if they were floating in the air! Finally, to bring overall consistency to the whole, the passionate decorator chose to play with the colours. Dark colours in the library and in the master bedroom, in contrast to the second floor and the living rooms on the garden side. Each space has its own ambience and own identity, yet cohabit harmoniously, and are filled with her finds. The furniture, mostly antique or vintage, is punctuated by an eclectic selection of objects. A style that is entirely her own, for you to discover in company with us.
Sophie, could you introduce yourself, please?
I’m 39 years old, I’m married to Édouard, and I’m mum to three children. We lived and worked in Paris before we moved here. Édouard was in consulting, and I was a buyer in digital and IT. When our twins Rose and Joseph were born, we wanted something more, more space, more time. So, two years ago, we decided to come and live in Bordeaux, the sleeping beauty. The idea had been tempting us for a long time. Édouard and I have always liked challenges, setting new goals and taking nothing for granted. So, along with this new start, we decided to try a new professional adventure. Édouard by joining forces with the start-up company, OUIDROP, and me by opening the place I’ve always dreamed of.
Tell us about your home. How did you find it, how long have you been living in it?
To begin with, we were accompanied by our friend Guillemette (BGV Bordeaux) who took us around the city to introduce us to the different neighbourhoods and their sociology so that we could choose the one that best suited our expectations. We knew the “tourist” Bordeaux, but not the one we now live in on a daily basis. And that changed everything! Then Édouard and I came back for a weekend to study the property market. I had identified ten houses, and we visited them all over two days. After nine viewings, this was the last one. I fell in love with it immediately. I remember telling Édouard “this is the one” and he said, “no way, it’s much too big, and there’s too much work to do”. In short, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion! But three weeks later – and after doing some creative psychological manipulation work on Édouard (Laughs) – we made an offer and it was accepted. We took possession of the property two years ago.
It’s quite a generous size. How did you arrange the space?
The spaces are indeed large, but that’s not all. The ceiling height is over four metres in the majority of the rooms. So, this posed two challenges: to occupy the space on the floor and in height. For the first, we positioned strong elements, including a central island in polished concrete and wood in the kitchen, a massive table in the dining room, and a base unit to delimit the space between the dining room and the living room. To address the second one, we played a lot with the lights. We wanted to keep the original cement tiles in the entrance hall. So to break it up and stop it feeling cold, we installed coloured paper pendant lights at different heights. In the kitchen, once again, it’s the pendant lights above the island that make it possible to live in the space. The same goes for the master bedroom. Finally, in other rooms, we used dark colours but kept the white ceilings to create depth.
We wanted to create different atmospheres but still retain a general feeling of harmony and coherence. We wanted something simple, easy to live with on a daily basis, and which we wouldn't grow tired of.
What kind of ambience did you want to create?
We wanted to create different atmospheres but still retain a general feeling of harmony and coherence. We wanted something simple, easy to live with on a daily basis, and which we wouldn’t grow tired of. The rooms on the garden side, especially the living room, were designed in light tones and with a lot of wood to stay consistent with nature. The library on the street side has been designed as a sort of cosy cocoon, with dark tones to make it a place apart, conducive to reading. The second floor, reserved for family and friends, is completely white (floor and walls). We wanted to create a genuine “holiday feel”. This way, each floor and each room has its own identity!
How did you wish to furnish your house?
Moving from a Parisian flat to a house of this size was a significant challenge in terms of decoration. We hardly kept any of our furniture; it wasn’t really suitable for a property like this. We tried to find a compromise between antique and second-hand furniture, furniture made by craftsmen and new furniture. And in the end, there is very little new furniture! I like to find pieces of furniture from another era, to remind myself that they’ve already had a life and that they’ve belonged to other people. Their stories bring extra character to the house! Next, no preconceived ideas. I work instinctively with things I love, and we’ve also brought back quite a lot of decorative items from our travels!
You have just opened La Gaité, a decoration boutique in Bordeaux. Tell us about it!
Yes, it’s an eclectic selection of fashion, decoration and everyday objects. I imagined this place bringing together favourite brands with singular identities, driven by travel, art, happiness… All these inspirations that are dear to La Gaité! It is also a place of life and sharing which will propose as soon as possible, ephemeral events such as exhibitions, workshops or aperitifs.
What are your most recent discoveries – small brands, artists, craftsmen (etc.) – can you share them with us?
I very much like the work of the painter Inès Longevial, her faces are sublime! Hélène Lefeuvre too, for her textile creations, which are full of poetry. And then there’s the jewellery work of Charlien Lagrou, a Belgian designer. Her organic jewellery is magnificent. Finally, Jacques Design, for his very pretty linen cushions, inspired by 20th-century design.
Is there an artist, a designer (…) whose work has fascinated you – and continues to fascinate you?
I’m an unconditional fan of Gerhard Richter. His “photo paintings” are surprisingly realistic, but I like his abstract paintings even more.
What are your influences, the ones that have shaped your “style”?
My mother, who lives and breathes bargain hunting! I’ve often accompanied her in her quest, between bric-a-brac shops, flea markets and fairs. Travelling too. Wherever I go I fall in love with local crafts and I’d like to bring back whole suitcases full! And last but not least, I love the design of the 1950s to 1970s.
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
Coolitude! A mix of everything I love, decoration, travel, design, in short: an uncomplicated lifestyle that inspires me.
What are the unmissable places to visit in Bordeaux?
The Satnam Club, to take care of your body and soul. The Doda Gallery, for their vintage furniture and pretty lights. The Mampuku and Symbiose restaurants for a good dinner. La Guinguette chez Alriq, to party with the children. On the banks of the Garonne, it’s an oyster shack, with pizzas and concerts: everything you need for a good time with family and friends! And for a drink, go to the Chantiers de la Garonne or the Chartrons market place.
Moving from a Parisian flat to a house of this size was a significant challenge in terms of decoration. We hardly kept any of our furniture; it wasn't really suitable for a property like this.
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily