Paloma just woke up from a nap when we arrived to Aliénor Béchu’s and her husband Pierre-Louis’s flat. At the last floor of a...
Mathilde and Jérôme have recently moved to Montreuil, and are among those who prefer a large, spacious house to a one-bed Parisian apartment. And when you go bargain-hunting every day like Mathilde, you need somewhere to put everything. Mathilde has the mind of an antiques dealer, and is a huge fan of children’s furniture from between the 30s and 70s. Her interior design has been made in her own image. Nothing is new, but everything is from designer and precious. A Florence Knoll coffee table, Joe Colombo lamps, Luigi Colani piggy banks and Harry Bertoia chairs are just a few of the gems that we’d love to get our hands on as well! Mathilde is an incurable bargain-hunter. As she can’t stop herself from looking for rare pieces online or in second-hand shops, she has consequently become a major collector.
Mathilde, could you introduce yourself?
My house is my second skin. I love little things that have soul, lopsided tables, cushions made with old clothes and cabbage-shaped plates.
What do you do?
I write, and I decorate my home and my friends’ homes. I would really love to get into it more seriously. My current workspace is the workshop at the bottom of the garden. We wanted to turn it into a guest room to welcome families from all over the world. Every bit of furniture would be for sale.
What education did you receive in décor and furniture?
My mum is an interior designer, and we used to make the carpets and wallpaper for my dolls’ house with her sketch books. She often moved furniture around at home, and made things out of cardboard. She worked for Atal, a office furniture company. It was in the 80s, and I remember spending my Wednesday afternoons watching people draw on huge drawing tables. I was fascinated! She was also the sort of woman who would throw everything away to make room, but I’m completely the opposite. I must get that from my Dad. He was a very nostalgic man who developed an art for accumulation. He collected everything, from masks to tropical fish.
Which style inspires you the most? Any era in particular? A specific country?
I’ve drawn a lot of my inspiration from the 50s and 60s. I think these two decades invented mainstream design. Nowadays the rows of Danish furniture and tripod tables can be a bit suffocating. I love the 70s, Joe Colombo lamps, a “Space Odyssey” ambiance, low Togo sofas, l’Elysée relooké revamped by Pierre Paulin, huge carpets. Luxury and comfort which can also be found in the 30s, geometric patterns, fine materials, marble, woodwork, velour, fabulous Art Deco wallpaper. Basically, nothing too new or too clean! I want a raw, exotic ambiance in the workshop at the bottom of the garden, like a remote wood cabin in South America.
Where do you work?
At home, on the top floor of the house. It’s my little slice of heaven, all white with views of the sky and the greenery.
Where do you like spending time at home?
When I wake up in the morning I like to open the curtains in our bedroom and look out over the church bell tower. I feel like I’m in an old country house, as if time has stopped.
How did you design the space with your daughter?
When she was a baby, Charlotte used to sleep in what is now the dressing room. It was a small room above the kitchen that I transformed into a little cocoon painted in dusty-pink. When she grew up we decided to give her a larger space where she could play with her friends, and which was big enough for a little brother or sister later on. We scrapped the rose, and brought in more colour, a large rattan bed and little chairs so she could play at being headmistress. I’m making the decisions at the moment, so there’s a lot of second-hand toys and patchwork covers. It’s a space which my daughter and I will transform together.
Which cheap piece are you most proud of?
The little “Anna” Ikea chair designed by Karin Mobring in 1963. I found it recently in a car-boot sale for 5 euros. I’m crazy about children’s chairs. This one has two different heights, it’s beautiful and works well. Charlotte loves it.
What is the craziest piece you dream of?
A conservatory with old, traditional glass panes and lots of plants inside.
Photos credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily.com