January is design month and 4am starts in January always mean sourcing trips to Paris for the bi-annual Maison de Objet show. It’s the destination for all things new in interiors; a melange of soft furnishings, lighting, furniture, and a hotspot for emerging trends. It’s a fast-paced 15,000 steps of visual stimulation for interior designers and retail buyers across the globe. And to say I love it is an understatement.
Immersing myself in environments surrounded by like-minded creatives from within the world of interiors often serves as a reminder of why I adore what I do.
After the show, we took a twilight trip to the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower to admire the sights (and dodge the traffic of the daylight hours!). The unmarked cobbled road that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe is a notorious hotspot for French city traffic, but we braved it, dressed in our finest gowns and kept warm by ostrich feather stoles. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of night time Paris, understanding how it came to be known as Ville Lumiere - the City of Light.
Paris is the heart of inspiration for French Bedroom. Cliché as it may sound, inspiration is everywhere you look in this timeless city. This manifests in many forms from fluted Corinthian columns, wrought iron gates, carvings on stone statues, hotel lobby designs, artwork in museums - even the frames of the artwork, cornice work and, of course, original French antiques.
The following day, we took a trip to a nearby florist adorned with exquisite exterior displays of pink blooms, mimosa from Cote d’Azur, roses and tulips. This was followed by mid-morning coffee at a quintessentially Parisian café, where we were determined to sit alfresco in the Parisian sunshine, despite the -6°C temperatures!
In the afternoon, we visited dear friends at a traditional and exceptionally beautiful Parisian apartment and enjoyed a spring-themed afternoon tea with berries and fruits, pastel-hued macaroons and the traditional Galette des Rois, or ‘cake of kings’ – a delicious almond pastry served in early January, that dates back to the 14th century.
We then hot-trotted to The Ritz via Avenue Montaigne, the namesake of our eponymous Avenue Montaigne collection, before taking our taxi to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar home. It was of course a glamorous trip but behind the scenes were plenty of outfit changes hidden around the corner of buildings, and lugging a 27kg suitcase, plus handwarmers aplenty! Sometimes the giggles between the shots were more fun that the photos themselves! The outtakes are often where the connections are made, the pauses between the events. All in all, it was a fast-paced but fun trip for the memory bank. We’ve documented the trip with over 1,000 photos and videos, which we’ll share with you over the coming months, so watch this space!
Ladurée Macarons are light, fluffy and the perfect amount of sweetness, they are truly divine. Perfect for gifting or as a well-earned treat for yourself.
The Vanilla & Sesame 5-Drawer Chest of Drawers exudes femininity and is exclusive to French Bedroom. With different sized drawers, intricate detailing and matching bedside tables available, this chest of drawers is as practical as it is stylish.
The sun may be making a slightly longer appearance each day, but we are still very much feeling a chill in the air. This luxurious faux fur throw, akin to rabbit fur, provides the ultimate feeling of warmth
Brunch with Michelle
Michelle is the face behind an Instagram account the FB Team are currently obsessed with - @stjosephscottage. The décor in Michelle's cottage is quintessentially British country chic and we are simply in awe.
Describe your perfect Sunday
A slow one! I grew up in a home of Sunday Roasts and even though it’s me who has to cook it now, I still try to keep up with the tradition. One of the little villages near us holds a farmers’ market on a Sunday morning so my perfect Sunday would definitely start with a wander around there to pick up some local cheeses, vegetables and the meat for the dinner. Then back to the cottage, everything prepped and into the oven and the rest of the day in the garden.
We adore the content you share of your cottage. What inspires your décor?
Some of my family members are French so I have spent many Summers in Southern France in beautiful rustic farmhouses, my best memories are definitely there. In my décor I always like to use soft linens, cottons and natural textures and I think that must stem from my happy French memories. The beams and beautiful features of the cottage are inspiring me to play more with deeper colours as they create such great backdrops to help the features really stand out. I’m naturally a bit of a rule breaker though and it’s been really fun with St Josephs Cottage to mix up some really modern textures into the old building like glass and mirrors and some shiny chrome touches.
You’ve renovated several properties – which has been your favourite and why?
Yes, I have, it’s been a busy few years. My favourite project I think is a 1970’s bungalow that we moved into in April 2020. All renovations require a lot of flexibility and problem solving but nobody could have predicted that COVID was about to happen just as we completed on the purchase. The property was in a conservation area on a street of pretty little cottages, and it was such an ugly duckling in the middle of them all.
As we got deeper into the pandemic the cost of materials doubled or they weren’t available at all, the difficulties of keeping social distancing amongst the tradespeople slowed everything down and all the time my husband was working from home whilst I was homeschooling 3 children. This meant the budget ended up being hugely stretched and I had to learn a lot of skills myself to get the project through to completion. I was so proud of the whole bungalow at the end and the transformation was unbelievable we made three bedrooms into the kitchen and moved the kitchen from the front to the rear of the property, so it opened onto the garden and we also completed a loft conversion and cladded the building in Siberian Larch.
How do you unwind after a busy day?
I love to cook! I’m one of those lucky people that actually just loves to be in the kitchen. I find that when I’m cooking, I focus on it so much that it relaxes me from thinking about all the other things. I’ve also noticed that now my children are teenagers if they want to talk something through, they have a tendency to come in and sit in the kitchen and talk to me as I’m cooking so I’m guessing that means I definitely look my most peaceful and approachable when I have my cook’s apron on!
What’s in store for St Joseph’s Cottage for 2024?
We have a big project planned and I am so excited that I will be able to share the progress through my social media. The cottage currently has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. We are intending to build an extension to the rear of the cottage to create an ‘L’ shape. I’m eager, subject to planning, to build the extension out of an oak and glass frame. Downstairs It will give the cottage a much larger kitchen space opening onto a family room, but upstairs is where it will have the biggest impact. I will create a master bedroom with ensuite and a balcony overlooking the countryside. It’s always been a bit of a dream of mine to have a copper bath in the bedroom so I am really hoping that I will finally be able to realise it in St Joseph’s Cottage!