In the little town of Dourdan a few kilometres away from Paris, Guillaume and Aline have created a veritable little jewel of a place. Like many Parisians, when they had a third child they wanted to get away from it all, seek out some greenery and live a better life. When they went to see the house, the whole place was in its original condition. Nothing had changed in 30 years, and everything needed doing! Guillaume obsesses over every detail and adores vintage furniture, and he re-designed the whole place himself. From the tiling to the recovered entrance area, from the wash basin to the bathroom, from the ceramic switches to the staircase paint: he did absolutely everything himself by his own hand, working every evening and every weekend. And then he went looking for furniture. A Togo sofa that he hunted down on the internet, an Alain Richard light from an auction, recovered Tulip designed chairs that are his pride and joy as an inveterate bargain hunter. It was a long, arduous task for this father of a band of three boys – a man who also collects and restores racing bikes when he gets the time. So who said the countryside was boring?
Guillaume, would you like to introduce yourself?
Guillaume, married to Aline and father to 3 boys: Gaspard, Aristide and Augustin. We also have two chickens and a small parrot. I am crazy about anything retro…including bikes, cars and 20th Century architecture. A former Parisian, I came here with my family to the countryside looking for some greenery 5 years ago. My work as an engineer meant that I moved around a lot, and sometimes I took side-trips to go and see the works of the grand masters of architecture. I would absolutely love to go to Brasilia and see the works of Oscar Niemeyer.
What did you like when you chose this house?
This house was originally Aline’s inspiration. After visiting several apartments in Paris, I came across this small ad. Travelling along the highway to go and visit it was a concern for us, but when when I saw it I felt like a fairytale prince stumbling upon sleeping beauty in the woods. The house was in its original condition and nobody had lived there for a quite a few months. It was hidden behind brambles and trees. This was the only place we visited! It was love at first sight.
Did you work together on re-doing the rooms one after the other?
Objectively I would say that I am more decoration-orientated than Aline, but she focusses my hardcore ideas – in particular the porcelain switches, the wooden windows and the cast iron radiators. And of course she helps me choose things. We had a lot of discussions for the final rooms such as the lounge and the dining room.
What decoration style do you like the most?
Vintage! I am crazy about the modern furniture of the 50s.
Where do you get the items from?
We got a lot of it off leboncoin and at flea markets, mainly. The flea market is the monthly outing. My oldest son Gaspard is my ally, he loves coming with me. I know he will always find a toy to bring back.
You should take your time. One piece of furniture will lead to another.
Do the children enjoy taking part in the decoration and in the choice of furniture?
They certainly do, yes! We display their toys all over the place in the house really, and there’s a whole wall in the dining room that’s covered with their drawings. We have even hung their lanterns up as chandeliers!
What are the inexpensive items that are the greatest source of pride for you?
I would say the wash-basin. It has an amazing history. When I came across it, it was being sold following the renovation of a bathroom in a house that dated back to 1900. The people had left the gate open and it was on the side in the courtyard. If they weren’t there I was to put the money through the letter-box if I liked it…and I did like it!
Do you have a favourite designer?
Yes, I love Alain Richard. I was dying to get hold of a light from his range, and at last I found one!
What advice would you have for someone moving into a new apartment?
You should take your time. One piece of furniture will lead to another. For example, in the lounge I had nothing but an armchair, and I worked everything around it to get a welcoming atmosphere.
Photography & Text: Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily