Fanny, Fabrice, can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are a couple of forty-year-old natives of Champagne. We’ ve been united in life and work for nearly 15 years, and we have two children: Juliette 10 years old and Victor 7 years old. After a first professional career in major cities, Paris for me, and Toulouse for my husband, we decided to settle in Reims, the city where we met and where our family is based, to put down roots here and write our own story. Having established our company in the heart of Reims, in the human resources sector, living in the countryside surrounded by vineyards was an obvious choice for us, so we could recharge our batteries with our family at weekends away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
What’s the story behind the house where you are welcoming us today?
When Juliette was born we wanted more space and a beautiful garden., We wanted to find a house with character, and with lovely rooms, in a charming village near Reims. We discovered this beautiful house on our first visit, and we were captivated immediately by its charm; a magnificent stone façade, cement floor tiles, marble fireplaces, oak flooring, an elegant entrance hall and an unusual exterior with potential. It met all our criteria, except for one. The price! So we continued our visits to properties, but without much conviction. More than a year later, we got back in touch with the vendor, and after a lengthy negotiation, the magic worked: we were going to become the owners of our first love!
You told us you have transformed the house. What was involved in that?
The house was a wonderful base to build on as it still had all its natural character and original structure. We’ve renovated it completely to make it more comfortable and accentuate its elegance and charm. To achieve the transformation, we collaborated with a local architect, Carlos Pujol, who drew up the plans, and selected and coordinated the companies involved. Both of us are passionate about architecture and interior design, and we were really keen to work on the decoration, to choose the materials and to define the atmosphere.
Have you preserved some of the historical elements of the building?
It was essential to us conserve all the character of the building because that’s the soul of the house. We cleaned the cement tiles, restored the marble fireplaces, the woodwork, mouldings and the wooden flooring. We made the main staircase a feature by painting it a glossy black and adding a stair carpet. Emphasising all these elements was essential to the success of the project. We also improved the attic by integrating it into the character of the rest of the house with the woodwork and mouldings.
How are the spaces divided up?
We redesigned the spaces to provide both conviviality and privacy within our family life. We removed several partition walls to make the rooms more comfortable. The kitchen is open to the dining room, there are two living rooms, one dedicated to the children, games and reading, and the other centred around the fireplace (which we created) for aperitifs with family or friends. The top floor was one vast attic. We transformed it and partitioned it into a den for our two little ones. The first floor is dedicated to adults and is composed of a master suite with a rosewood dressing room and a black mosaic bathroom, as well as a suite for friends with an island bathtub and access to the pool in summer.
You weren’t afraid to play with colours. How did you choose them?
We took particular care over choosing the colours because they define the atmosphere of a place. We chose deep colours, and we wanted to give a real sense of identity to our rooms by painting the ceilings in the same colour too. The black, which we chose for the windows, doors and floors, emphasises the elegance of the house. The terracotta in the kitchen/dining room accentuates the warm and friendly atmosphere of eating together. The eucalyptus green of the corridor and staircase delineates the circulation areas. We wanted dark shades so that the house would plunge us into a softly subdued atmosphere.
And the open kitchen in rosewood and green marble! What were your main inspirations for its design?
The kitchen, with its massive quantity of rosewood veneered wood and monumental Guatemalan green marble, is primarily inspired by the world of the 1950s. It is the perfect place for family, friends, sharing and conviviality, which is why we created it using curved shapes and a large central island, like a bar. The shelves are integrated into a mirrored finish that wraps around the island and accentuates the spaciousness of the place.
Generally speaking, what did you want from your home?
At home, we wanted to recreate that intimate boutique hotel atmosphere that we particularly like when we go to Paris. We had a precise mood board in mind, which combined precious materials and fabrics contrasted with elements of the past. For our interior, we wanted to combine velvet fabrics for curtains and sofas, coloured silk and wool carpets, brass marble and rosewood. We deliberately worked to create a strong atmosphere in terms of materials and colours so that we would feel enveloped in our house.
How have you furnished it, accessorised it?
I like to hunt out and arrange old, unusual objects next to more modern pieces. My most amazing find is an old Telefunken radio console from the 1960s, in perfect condition. I appreciate its aesthetic as much as I enjoy listening to jazz radio all day long! We also have some small pieces that we have found over the course of our wanderings, such as a pâte de verre light fitting that we bought in Trouville. Equally, we like to integrate re-released items such as Gio Ponti, Norman Cherner, and Charles Eames as well as the work of less well-known craftsman such as our Servomuto Hermès fabric wall lights and our Gallotti&Radice chandelier in the hall.
You already have some of our iconic pieces here. What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
We recently discovered your shop at 12 rue Saint-Fiacre, and we brought away some iconic pieces from there that immediately found their place here in our home. For us, The Socialite Family is all about the spirit of the family, where simplicity and refinement come together!
It’s just a few weeks until Christmas, can you tell us how your preparations for the holiday are going at home?
The excitement is the same every year, with our two children, Juliette and Victor. We listen to Christmas music as, together, we decorate a magnificent Christmas tree. The house is adorned with wreaths and lights, waiting impatiently by the fireside for the magic of Christmas Eve. For us, above all, it’s an opportunity to get together and spend quality time with the family over a good meal.
We are only ten minutes from Reims. What are your go-to places when it comes to celebrating the end of the year?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily