Spaces

1850s REBORN

26th July 2016

Although aesthetically very different, the previous post I shared here bears a subtle relationship with this space, an apartment in Lyon in France, which I spotted on Vogue Living. Both properties date from the same period (there’s just twelve years between them) and share in their beautiful and at times opulent period detailing, but both have also been redesigned for contemporary living.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

This apartment dates from 1852 and is the home of interior designers Pierre Emmanuel Martin and Stéphanie Garotin, who own the interior design store Maison Hand. These beautiful photos were taken by Felix Forest who has captured the amazing light that flows throughout this living space.

Indeed this light was crucial to the couple’s approach. In the Vogue Living article, writer Ian Phillips quotes Pierre Emmanuel Martin as he explains how their previous apartment, which was decorated in much darker tones, influenced this interior: “It was really nice in the winter and very cosy in the evening, but more difficult to live with in the summer,” Martin recalls. “It was so dark that I’d have to take my trousers to the window just to see what colour they were.”

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest. Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

I always like reading details like this as it highlights that even interior designers can create spaces that bring challenges. I spent a long time last winter mulling over adding dark grey walls in our home (I’d seen so many images of this on Pinterest, I was close to cracking), but while, yes, it would look cosy in winter – and it did seem really tempting in the depths of a Scottish winter to try and ‘cosy things up’ – I realised that our summers are so short and we need all the light we can possibly get. Our walls remained chalk white.

And so here, having experienced the ‘dark side’, Martin and Garotin approached their home with the aim of creating a sense of light. Located on the third floor of this period building, the main reception rooms face south, so the couple had great light to work with, while the remaining spaces wrap around an internal courtyard, creating a circular flow of space.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest. Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

While the period detailing – and particularly those parquet floors – reflect this apartment’s location, to me, the interior has a fresh Scandi feel. Maison Hand stocks leading contemporary designers and brands including Carl Hansen, Gubi and Louis Poulsen, and the couple’s love of understated modern furniture and lighting is evident throughout their home.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest. Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

What makes this interior really interesting is the way in which the couple have combined so many ‘found’ objects – pieces they’ve picked up on their travels, from basketwork sourced on trips to Japan and Cambodia to ceramic sculptures picked up at a flea market in Athens. These objects, combined with the occasional flourish of graphic print – as in the cushions above from Rouge du Rhin – and the couple’s diverse collection of artworks, come together to create a very individual home.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest. Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

I was asked recently for advice on displaying art in the home, and I must admit this apartment gives plenty of inspiration in this regard. I love the collated displays, as above where a small grouping of pieces share a visual connection. And in the hallway, spotted behind the Eames Lounge chair above, the couple have used floating shelves as a way of displaying artworks – laid out in a horizontal progression of shelves that guides your eye along the space. It’s a nice detail and a great way of making impact in a hallway without simply hanging art.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

And look at the beautiful detailing on the marble fireplace in the drawing room above. The period detailing may be grand, but Martin and Garotin have combined this with very pared back pieces, like the Luminator floor lamp by Flos – a classic design by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.

Also, those abstract sculptures on the mantelpiece, which look like they probably came from a gallery, are the aforementioned finds from the Athens flea market. I love when an interior plays with your expectations – or perhaps your preconceptions.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

I’m also drawn to the cool grey-blue toned palette of the main bedroom. There isn’t much colour in this apartment, but this restrained approach only draws your eye to details like the herringbone parquet and the window shutters and panelling, and to the individual pieces, including the classic Platner chair and the Monte & Baisse wall lights by Daniel Gallo.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

And look at this bathroom! That gorgeously minimal vanity unit is by Boffi with an Adnet Circulaire mirror from Gubi, while the stool is a 19th century Chinese piece. Combined with the use of marble, this look is both luxurious yet understated, just like the rest of this wonderful home.

Lyon apartment, photo by Felix Forest.

All photography by Felix Forest via Vogue Living.

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