Sophie Bassani knows design, both for the home and for the body. In 2000, she opened her luxury clothing and accessories boutique, Parenthese, in a happening pocket of Bordeaux.
This apartment – perched above a small condominium near the public garden, in a city nestled in French wine country – was closed-in, dark and cramped.
“When I first visited, this was far from the classic spirit of Haussmann-style apartments. It was dusky and sorely lacking soul, but I could feel it had enormous potential,” relates Bassani.
To improve the layout, she enlisted the Eiffel Trophy-winning architects at Atelier Cambium. The team opened up rooms, letting light stream in, by transforming closed attic space in l’appartement into une superbe terrasse en coeur d’ilot –“a superb terrace in the heart of an island.” The new rooms radiate around this hanging garden.
The floor plan honors the history but maps out the space in a modern way, reconfiguring the walls to enlarge the living room, change the kitchen footprint and create a fourth bedroom for the blended family.
“I was inspired by the details and atmosphere of the great Parisian hotels,” Bassani notes. What design degree does she have up her sleeve?
“I didn’t study fashion or interior design,” she concedes. “Life encounters led me to these passions.” She holds a bachelor’s degree in international economics. An art collector, she acquires works in galleries, especially in the Marais, a beloved Parisian neighborhood. For vintage finds, Bassani shops the Paul Bert Serpette section of the Paris Flea Market.
She put a lot of her passions on display in this Bordeaux hideaway. One daring combination: A pair of 1950s armchairs by Pierre Jeanneret next to a contemporary suspended pearl sculpture (on the side table) from Parisian visual artist Jean-Michel Othoniel.
Simple at first glance, the very intentional, made-to-measure custom kitchen marries strong quartzite with fine essence of walnut and brass detail. Shelving serves as a “picture rail,” neatly holding canisters, cookbooks and cherished objects.
A succession of bedrooms in the apartment is punctuated by cupboard doors that hide endless storage and dressing room spaces. The bathroom is an extension of the bedroom, accessed by a dressing room designed as a corridor.
Bassani doesn’t have to travel far for inspiration.
“My shop is a few minutes’ walk across the park,” she reveals with a smile. She stocks labels Valentino, Laurent, Gucci, Balenciaga, with summer handbags (sacs) and heeled mules in lemon yellow, fresh orange and other juicy colors. Note the pops of color in these rooms – the terracotta pot on the mantel, the wide yellow lampshade alongside well-loved, older furniture.
Per her understated French sensibility, à la mode trends are best in small doses. The overall design in the apartment honors timeless and well-preserved details as a backdrop: classic marble for bathrooms; brass fittings for doors and windows; the white fireplace surround; light oak parquet floors; walnut paneling as a continuous thread throughout the rooms and finally, ceiling-to-floor drapes in an elegant neutral, like quietly chic dresses.
It’s the best-dressed place in Bordeaux.
Photography by Cécile Perrinet-lhermitte.
For more Parisian style, be sure to check out the homey interiors of this boutique in Paris.
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