Clarisse Prudent was expecting her third child when she had the brainwave. A resident of Switzerland for 15 years, Clarisse preferred to swap the peace and quiet of the lakes to the vineyards of Burgundy. Clarisse was born there and so she decided to return to the bosom of her forebears for the birth of her daughter Marlow. Antoine, for his part, prefers travelling between Geneva, London and Dijon before settling down with his family. He would not give up this hectic pace for anything. They had fifteen months of work done on their completely refurbished house before they could move in. This makes for a lifetime project for the just-so interior decoration which Clarisse has planned down to the smallest detail. They share this haven of peace with their friends each weekend and they would be wrong not to do so.
Clarisse, for how long have you and your family lived in this house?
It will be 3 years this November.
Why did you make such a life choice?
I lived in Geneva in Switzerland for more than a dozen years, with my husband and my first two children. I loved that time of my life, when I was able to meet great friends, but because of his work, my husband was often away; I did not see myself going on living there… I felt the need to change my lifestyle to a simpler format, create a nest for my children, a haven for Antoine when he comes home at the weekend and a hospitable place for our friends when they visit. Since I hail from Burgundy, it seemed obvious that I should return to my roots.
What do you do for a living?
I am an interior decorator, but actually I am mostly a confidante and even an explorer!
This job requires you to relate to people and lend a willing ear and in my view, also know how to use your hands. I like to mix genres, items I root out in flea markets, industrial furniture, an ethnic touch with pure design items, but I also like to put objects to unintended uses. I am also deeply attracted to manufacture; I’ve just finished making benches with a friend and it was an eye-opener: I think my job is changing and I have to change with my customers’ expectations.
My trademark, Finca, comes from the name of our house. It reflects my slightly Bohemian side and so its name comes naturally.
In which room do you spend the most time?
There are several but the kitchen is where the children and I congregate to share our days. Not forgetting the stairs!
What is a typical day in your family like?
We don’t have those! I have to keep adapting and organising – with 3 children, it’s a small business on its own! But most often, I drop my children off at school and I go to work in the office. I try to do as much as I can because my days are too short. I pick up my children at 5 o’clock in the evening and then it’s one thing and another – an absolute marathon! I allow myself a short sports session early in the evening to drain away the stress of the day. I often have to travel to London and Morocco for work and that’s more fun! I try to take my chidren with me if the timing permits. And then at last it’s the weekend and the family is together, with friends from Dijon or somewhere else. One thing is certain: our routine is not to have one.
Where do you find your furniture?
Everywhere, especially where I least expect to find gems. I’m an inveterate bargain hunter. Of course I have a few nice places I go to in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, at les Puces du Canal but I also love going to barter sales, Emmaus and neighbourhood garage sales in Dijon or elsewhere. I often go to Morocco; each time I go, I am amazed by the Berber and Azilal carpets.
Do your children have input into the decoration?
Yes, up to a point. We brought them up in a world of curios. My daily life revolves around the passion for new things, baubles. They’re used to it. It is second nature to them. Lucas likes to go bargain-hunting with me; he’s always looking for an unusual object. Joah participated actively in decorating her room, proposing quite daring choices sometimes! It’s still a little early for Marlow but I love to see her grow …
What do you lack in your home?
The next objet d’art – I don’t know what it is yet, but it will fit very snugly into a little space which has been waiting for it.
Could you recommend three interior decoration addresses for us?
The rare Sundays in the year when Brigitte Durieux sells her Vintage for Kids treasures, a treasure trove of items the like of which you can hardly find elsewhere, in the Dijon antiquarian quarter, or Paula Costes. Bernard Mouiren, the Pope of industrial furniture in Isle-sur-Sorgue, a village off the Brocapuces station, Yannick Gauthey in the Lyon flea market.
How did you choose your children’s names?
For our first son, Lucas, we agreed immediately; it was obvious. For Joah, our first daughter, we had to search. We wanted to hark back to our origins, so she inherited a name of Jewish origin. It means “Brother of God”; it’s a boy’s name but it suits her admirably, I think. Marlow is another boy’s name. It was much more difficult; we each gave up something and the children contributed.
What is the no-no in terms of taste?
Lack of personality; when your living room looks like an anteroom.
What is the cheap item of which you are the most proud?
I have so many of those… But I’m very fond of the small series of old pictures in the corridor leading to my room; then the old costermonger’s boxes which can be put to other uses.
How do you combine interior decoration and family life?
Make your interior come alive. The house remains a place where people live, so the decoration must adapt and not be static.
Could you recommend a restaurant in Burgundy? Or elsewhere?
What are your plans?
Finish the jobs I have now and then go on creating new worlds and just perhaps, start a Finca line…
Photos : Constance Gennari@thesocialitefamily.com