Such dwellings are home to small pleasures as well as great joys. They see families grow up and children leave when they reach the age...
Laureen, Ridouane: can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m 39 years old, born in Morocco and arrived in France at the age of 10. Nowadays, I’m an automotive engineer.
Tell us about your education in “beauty”. How did your taste develop?
As a child, I remember that my mother took great care of our home. There was an unmistakably aesthetic approach! She was always trying to make her house cosier, changing the furniture around on a regular basis… It was a lot of fun for me. For my part, I’ve always loved living in spaces that say something about me. It was never a big thing for me, and my parents always consulted me about the layout of my room. I’ve never been indifferent about decoration! Later on, when I got my first flat at just 18 years old, I was completely euphoric at the idea of making it pretty and welcoming. Everyone who visited us complimented me, and I loved that. Ridouane and I lived together very early on, just after we graduated from high school, and even though he trusts me with all this, it’s fortunate that we have more or less the same tastes. And when we don’t, it’s often me who “wins”! (laughs)
How do you influence your children’s growing tastes, day-to-day?
I always tell them that the space we live in has to be kept tidy to be pleasant. A place for everything. I don’t obsess about it, but I make them aware of the importance of order. I find that one lives better and feels more fulfilled in a tidy interior. And then when you live with five people, you have to admit that you have a thousand natural opportunities to be a bit disorganised! It’s often happy and chaotic, it’s often noisy… We regularly get overwhelmed, but at least we live in a soothing space. Our apartment is not very large, so that’s all the more necessary and it grounds us. I find it hard to be punctual, but I’m a stickler for order! You have to choose your battles! (laughs) We’re also in the process of de-cluttering, and that’s great! Being a family of travellers, we’re inquisitive and enthusiastic; our travel souvenirs and our favourite little objects all have their place in our home. You can see reminders of tennis, music, school, and our diverse backgrounds! I really like the idea of this combination of items that characterise us. Our interior reflects us and represents all five of us as individuals. When it comes to my decorating choices, I usually ask them for their opinion. It may not always be a determining factor, but I at least take the trouble to listen to them, because it’s their living space too!
Many people question this choice of living in a "small" space, even though it's not really difficult on a day-to-day basis. We believe in the old adage "It Doesn't Take Much to Be Happy"!
Designers, artists, writers, musicians (…): whose work has had an influence on you?
I have a thousand influences when it comes to decoration. It’s hard to choose! I really like Constance Guisset’s work, which I find very poetic, both light and colourful, and her objects fit into almost any setting. I’m also a total fan of Charlotte Perriand, who inspires me a lot. I dream of building myself a library in her style. One day perhaps! Poetry is also very important to me. So I have little mantras or quotations here and there. You will also see books and song excerpts all over the apartment.
How long have you lived here?
We’ve been living in our apartment for just over five years. We arrived here somewhat by chance, while we were looking for a bigger property than our previous one. It was love at first sight! While we were tenants, our landlord put it up for sale. That was two years after we moved in. So we decided to buy it to stay here.
How is your living space arranged?
We chose to keep a relatively large living room even if it meant “losing” a bedroom, and that suits us very well at the moment. Ideally, we’d like to have one more room. But we wanted to give priority to the living room rather than the “night-time” spaces! So we only have two bedrooms, one for Sam and one that Rose and Elie share. Ridouane and I sleep in the living room. I like to say that we’re parents with no fixed place to lay our heads, but we live with it very happily! (laughs)
How have you furnished it?
We have a few antique and second-hand pieces, mainly small objects or small pieces of furniture (stools, crockery, mirrors, etc.); the rest is quite contemporary. I also like having pretty illustrations, some of which are numbered. And indeed, numerous reminders of school, including these photos of my forebears’ old classrooms found in the family, and this old school desk.
What does it say about you?
We spend a lot of time around the table! (laughs) Which certainly says we’re foodies. Many people question this choice of living in a “small” space, even though it’s not really difficult on a day-to-day basis. We believe in the old adage “It doesn’t take much to be happy”!
In which room in your home do you feel best?
We spend a lot of time in the dining room drawing, playing board games, playing music and of course: eating!
Music seems to be inseparable from your life! Why?
I believe that music is good for the soul! It cheers us up when we are a little sad, it unites us, soothes the children when they are upset … It’s an integral part of our lives! And while I’m not a musician (even though I’ve always been a music lover), I have a lot of admiration for my children’s musical skills. Even Ridouane has got into it! The only thing missing is me.
What sounds represent your home?
I was tempted to say the noise of the washing machine! (laughs) But there’s also this lullaby in Arabic that Ridouane sings to the children, his mother passed it on to him, and we love to hum it. The variety of songs we listen to as well. Jazz/folk, rock, French variety or reggae.
You love travelling. Which destinations have you most enjoyed exploring with your family?
Sam and Rose’s favourite trip was to Thailand. My favourite destination is Bali. We love Asia in general and the West Indies, which remind me of my origins. We’re also looking forward to returning to Morocco – Ridouane’s birthplace – a very inspiring destination for interior design! Apart from the change of scenery, what we like most about travelling is the fact that we get to meet other cultures. We believe that it is through experiencing the world that one understands it best and through being confronted with difference that one becomes more tolerant. As soon as the opportunity arises, we’ll travel “actively” again by visiting schools, museums and meeting the locals!
I really like the idea of this combination of items that characterise us. Our interior reflects us and represents all five of us as individuals.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily