Having lived in Paris for two consecutive summers with our kiddos, along with time spent in the city with my parents as a teenager, Paris is a place that has truly shaped me. It is a place I continue to yearn for, and one that has informed my sentiments as a Mother and Designer.
From the morning scents of a crusty Poilane baguette to the feeling of walking in the Tuileries (it’s like a mental palate cleanser!), my mind and senses are always on overdrive when I am in Paris.
Having recently visited, I thought I’d take a moment to muse on some of the lessons it has instilled in me, in addition to sharing some of my favorite Francophile pieces!
My husband and I really did feel it was important to “fit in” with french culture and so I did impress upon the children a few things — good manners, soft voices, please and thank you (en francais) and always hello in every store or restaurant entrance. I also had my children walk in a madeline line (yes, that’s right!) to get them accustomed to sharing the tiny sidewalks and paying attention to where other grown ups were. There is a lot of rigor to living in a city like Paris with children, anything less might be considered rude. Boundaries and rules are important for safety and polite behavior — and it was really good for my children to hold it all in until the playground.
In addition, Paris living also showed me how a curious child is a happy child! Interestingly, Paris is an amazing place for children. The parks and many museums have special spots for children — from puppet shows and boats in Jardin Luxembourg to costumes at house museums. The stimulation that Paris provides children is more than enough, and, if they had some time in the apartment to do music practice or reading/study… the walking and looking and learning in the city really made happy, tired children every night.
As a designer, Paris is a constant influence. I learned that nothing small was overlooked (packaging, details, profiles, etc.) but! sweating the small stuff just isn’t done either. So often things don’t match — and Europeans in general love putting their very contemporary things in an old room (or vice versa). I’d say the juxtaposition of old with new still shapes my daily work. Also, embracing imperfection. I love how in a french kitchen the limestone countertops become aged, chipped and have patina from olive oil. No problem.
Things may not match perfectly- but when the materials are natural and the floors squeak- you have a sense of authenticity you don’t get without that squeak. We really don’t have something equivalent in the US — unless it’s an old cabin in the mountains, or on a body of water or island.
Architecturally, it’s hard to find a more stimulating city than Paris that consistently exhibits quality materials and rigorous attention to architectural detail.
Currently, I’m working on a project that is informed by a building in the Place Vendome, an upper floor at Louis Vuitton. The fenestration aspect, the blonde oak parquet floors, the apricot, pink and yellow tones in a limestone envelope — so very inspiring. I will also say that the curtains at Malmaison and the Petit Trianon have always been part of my inspiration for my “curtain repertoire.” They are lined in a contrasting stripe or ticking. Since curtains and soft furnishings are so important to what we do for our clients, I’d say those locations have had a direct influence on my work. I look forward to sharing more of that project soon!
Below, enjoy a few of my favorites from Paris.
Fleur d'Oranger (Orange Blossom) Lotion Anything Fragonard gets my seal of approval! The Fleur d'Oranger lotion, parfum, eau de toilette are all beautiful scents — and so well priced!
La Tuile a Loup Beautiful ceramics made in France...does it get much better? In the heart of old Paris, in the 5th arrondissement, La Tuile à Loup celebrates traditional french craftsmanship offering an assortment of tableware pieces made by artisans throughout the region. Head to their Instagram page to inquire about purchasing.
Astier de Villate What would shopping in Paris be without the family run Astier de Villate? From ceramics to paper pieces, I adore everything they create. Even their notebooks are chic in their punchy geometric patterns!
Jean Luc Ferrand I love my antique Gien lamps with custom pale blue silk lampshades from Marche Biron…they are some of my most cherished pieces from Paris. They are similar to these beauties from Jean Luc Ferrand.