“The country is lyric, the town dramatic,” said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “When mingled, they make the most perfect musical drama.” That notion assumes a nuanced physical shape in the Normandy home and workshop of interior designers Frédérix Texier and Pauline Siboni, where the couple’s respect for rusticity and an urbane fluency in the contemporary generate a unique harmony.
“Before settling in Normandy, my husband had already started a business restoring furniture and our move here was motivated by our desire to work together and to offer both interior design services and a selection of furniture and decorative items,” explains Siboni. “We needed a showroom, a workshop and storage space, all hard to come by in Paris.”
At first glance, their compound – a proper 19th-century bourgeois residence and half-timbered, 16th-century farmhouse linked by an informal garden – conjures images from the pages of Flaubert. But the property is neither locked in time, nor oblivious of it. “Our biggest challenge with this house has been to transform it while keeping its soul,” shares Siboni. “When it was constructed, the most important rooms were the large reception rooms, placed at the front of the house. The kitchen and bathroom were tiny and placed in the back. The bedrooms, apart from the master, were very numerous and small.”
The homeowners flipped the format, moving the kitchen to what had been the salon, and transforming the existing kitchen into a living and dining space. Upstairs, bedrooms were eliminated to create a master suite, complete with dressing room. “This was sometimes a real headache, because we wanted to keep many of the old features,” admits Siboni. “But at the same time, we weren’t afraid to sacrifice some in order to make the house stick as closely as possible to our lifestyle. For example, we sacrificed a Napoleon III marble fireplace to install our stove!”
Texier was a restaurateur and Siboni designed costumes for film before they established their design business, L’Oeil du Perroquet and those métiers stood them in good stead when they set out to transform the property. “My knowledge of color and shapes and my husband’s ability to develop and optimize spaces allowed us to move quickly to where we wanted to go,” establishes Siboni.
With the old farm building serving as a studio and workshop, the couple have settled nicely in the main house. Here, classic elements – double panel doors, casement windows, oak parquet floors – form a comforting backdrop to a highly personal assembly of furniture and objects. Central to the home’s eye-pleasing charm (and a testament to the couple’s sympathetic but not slavish approach to its interiors) are the wallpapers that define various rooms. Christian Lacroix’s “Agua Parati” graces the entry hall, while a pine tree pattern from Les Dominotiers dances across the kitchen. A bold geometric motif from Cole & Son jazzes up the office. Even the atelier gets some love – a bold, almost comical parrot print from Leroy Merlin.
Informed by Texier’s love for the Memphis Group and modernism and Siboni’s appreciation of British style and all things baroque, these interiors strike an artful balance between the manifestly “curated” and an I-just-like-it nonchalance. Tubular steel chairs are paired with a country- simple dining table. A crystal chandelier hangs over an ‘8os-evocative kitchen island designed by Texier. In one bathroom, McDonald’s Golden Arches are displayed above a pedestal sink with two basins. “We are sensitive to an aesthetic no matter what era it dates from,” says Siboni. “What we love above all is the mixture.”
Photography by Corinne Schanté-Angelé.
For more like this vintage Normandy residence, be sure to check out this townhouse filled with flea market finds, design classics and personal treasures.
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