When you enter the home of Imelda de Breda, you are totally subsumed into its air of calm and peace. It is only a short walk from the centre of Lyon, but there is a palpable change in rhythm. In Imelda’s house, you sit down and recharge your batteries. In this partly reconstructed house, Hans and Imelda have opted for a country house style in their decoration, with vintage Scandinavian furniture. You will find old linen sheets, a Czech room divider and a period chest of drawers – mix and match is the order of the day. This is a strong preference of Imelda’s, who effortlessly combines work and family life with her three grown children.
Could you tell me the story behind this house?
When me and my husband viewed the house, it was absolutely pouring with rain. It hadn’t been lived in for many years, the garden hadn’t been touched for twenty years and it wasn’t a very welcoming place, hidden behind a mass of vegetation. However, we immediately fell under the spell of this improbable place and its potential – being in Lyon but as if we were in the middle of the countryside. We had to start by renovating it from top to bottom and then a few years later, we added an extension. This allowed us to reorganise the existing spaces by giving them a different function and focus the house more towards the garden.
Why did you go for this particular style?
We wanted the house to keep all its character and charm. When we were planning the extension, I designed it as if it were an artist’s studio that could always have been here, by playing with transparency towards the garden and using light to create different moods.
Are you both from Lyon?
Yes, we were both born in Lyon. We left the city to spend several years in Paris (for my architectural studies, and Hans’ work) and then in Brussels, where I was able to take a course in trompe l’œil at the Van Der Kelen school. It’s a subject that’s always fascinated me. We’ve been back in Lyon for 15 years now and very happy to get to know our city again. It’s changed so much since we left it.
Can you sum up your style in three words?
I don’t really have a style. I like to dip into all periods and mix things up. I’ve always loved rummaging around vintage and antique shops and Hans comes from a family of antiques dealers. We don’t go to mass on Sunday mornings, we go hunting for antiques as a family. We also bring back things from our travels, things we fell in love with – maybe a photo spotted in a restaurant, like on my last tip to Bali, or an orthodox cross from Albania, but also pebbles picked up from the bed of a nearby river, on a day out with the children, that we can’t bear to part with when we get home.
Which period of time inspires you most from an interior design point of view?
don’t limit myself to any one style or period. Of course, I love 20th century furniture and its great designers, such as Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Harry Bertoia, Charles and Ray Eames, and Arne Jacobson to name but a few. I admire them all enormously, but I also love things like a Louis XIV chest of drawers, a Louis XV mirror and late 19th century garden furniture.
Do you feel there’s anything missing from your home?
I love moving stuff around regularly, changing the position of furniture and creating different moods, so naturally there’s always something missing that I need to complete the new arrangement. but it sorts itself out over time…or I change it all over again. For example, at the moment, I’m looking for a set of Knoll Diamond wire chairs, designed by Bertoia in 1951. Nothing is ever set in stone here. it changes every month, every week, depending on my mood.
If you could have any designer piece from your wildest dreams, what would it be?
A Calder mobile.
What is your idea of a taste faux pas to be avoided?
I like a bit of bad taste, because it reflects the personality of the person that created it, their story and their memories. At least it’s authentic! To me, the worst sin is a bland interior, where each object has a set place and matches the sofa, which matches the table…It’s lifeless and colourless and could be anybody’s home.
Which is your favourite restaurant?
The Auberge de l’île, it’s a magical place on the L’île Barbe in the middle of the River Saône.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve created a concept store with a friend in Lyon, it’s called ‘La Buanderie’,and it’s a shop that reflects our personalities and sells women’s ready to wear clothing. We stock Belgian, Italian and French brands, most of which aren’t available elsewhere in Lyon. We (me being an architect and Fabienne a graphic designer), designed it as a destination and a living space that changes according to whatever takes our fancy at any given time. We regularly invite an artist to exhibit their work and give the space a different feel. Right from the stat, we established opening hours that were unlike any other shop. We only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which leaves us time to think, explore and take care of our families. In the same way and at the same time, I’m developing a new brand with a friend. It’s called ‘HOPE LABO’ and we’re designing and inventing decorative and everyday objects in a whole range of colours. It’s the same formula – friends, ideas and lots of laughter.
What’s your daily beauty régime?
I don’t have one! I don’t do anything on a regular, daily basis. That sort of life doesn’t suit me. I even change the route I take to come home or pick up the kids from school, all the time. I hate the same old same old.
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily