Starting from Scratch in France

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Clean slates. They’re daunting, challenging and invigorating, but most of all, they’re opportunities. Five years ago I sold everything I owned and moved to Chicago with only three suitcases. Those first few nights I slept on the floor with only a blanket from home and a pillow made of my folded t-shirts. You would think the silence would be deafening, but it was roaring with the ideas and potential of what my new home would be. Needless to say, starting from scratch is close to my heart. My clean slate was a Chicago grey stone, but Émilie, of MilieO, and Greg hit the jackpot with their 1948 red brick house – or amiènoise – outside of Paris. This post-World-War-II tri-level in the diverse Sainte-Anne neighborhood immediately spoke to the couple as they turned the key to the front door. The narrow façade disguised wide rooms and the perfect bones for making a home in the couple’s style. It was a fixer-upper, but just the right project they had been hoping to find. They have done a marvelous job of turning their first amiènoise together into a home and I couldn’t love the final results more! Garrett

All photos by Émilie Rousseaux

Image above: The couple’s Scandinavian-inspired bedroom was originally two rooms! Every new wall was painted white to serve as a base, then an accent color was chosen to warm each space in a different way. To convince Greg that a black accent wall was a good idea, Émilie created a photo-montage in Photoshop to sell the idea. Clever, clever. Bedding and table by Fly. Lighting by Tom Dixon.

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Image above: The first-floor landing and center of the home. Émilie loves the patina of the original wooden stairs. Her grandmother’s sewing box, which inspired her to start sewing, sits at the foot of the stairs, ready to go. The beautiful milk glass lamp is from IKEA.

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Click through for the full home tour after the jump!

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Images above: A year and a half after moving in, the couple finally has a bright and cheery bedroom. Every morning this beautifully curated gallery wall greets them. Émilie says “I like to think that the frame in the center represents Greg and me!” Owl and shelf board by Fly. Gold sticker by MilieO. Lamp by Leroy Merlin.

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Images above: Émilie and Greg each have their own side in the dressing room which features a visual tribute to Ferm Living – one of the homeowners’ favorite shops. Quirky elements make this space as unique as its creative owners.

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Image above: The den’s original fireplace features artwork by Ferm Living.

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Image above: The very place where the homeowners’ company was born. I love how the rich navy of the accent wall and the brilliant teal of the desk contrast one another. Gorgeous. Calendar by Rifle Paper Co. Whales by Jonathan Adler

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Image above: More work space for the couple’s growing business in the den.

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Image above: Movies and tea are the mainstays of the living room. I wouldn’t mind cozying up in those Thief & Bandit pillows. Print by MilieO.

19_editedImage above: What a moody yet cheerful vignette featuring a vintage lamp that got the Émilie paint treatment, hanging art by Rouge Céladon, and Émilie’s own artwork.

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Image above: The couple’s entry/living room is an ever-evolving space that shifts with their tastes. One thing is for sure; they have managed to maintain the clean lines of the Scandinavian designers they admire while still achieving a comfortable and livable space full of color and detail. Lighting by George Nelson. Table by 3 Suisses.

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Image above: Table and chairs by 3 Suisses. Coasters Rouge Céladon. Carpet by Fly.

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Image above: The couple upcycled this vintage dresser with fabric from IKEA. Just one of the many home improvement projects that went into making this 66-year-old home new again. A modern twist on a classic shape in Sherwin Williams 2015 Color of the Year: Coral Reef. They’re ahead of the curve already.

  1. That Penguin is equally cute and creepy.

  2. Sally says:

    Woah, this place is gorgeous! And I adore the dark walls.
    I’d so love to have a blank canvas house some day!

  3. Miranda says:

    I so loved this, Garret! The home is just smashing, and your comments drew my eye to so many lovely quirks.

  4. Valerie says:

    So beautiful! I just moved to an area outside of Paris as well and I’m feeling that whole clean slate vibe… Except that I’m an au pair, so my living space isn’t exactly my own! I’ve tried to come up with creative ways to decorate, though, and those posters in their Etsy shop are really calling to me. It’s so hard to find posters of France that aren’t cliché, but that map is perfect!

  5. Amazing spaces! So chic but a little quirky at the same time. Very inspiring.

  6. Alex says:

    Charming, creative and individual – just divine!

  7. handz says:

    I really love the first photo, with the Tom Dixon pendants and gold triangles at the black wall, magic!

    1. iza says:

      Do you know where to get these gold triangles?

  8. AS says:

    finally something that is not ‘shabby chic’ or ‘fresh hip city home steading’ style.
    this is soo wonderful!

  9. ale says:

    I like the geometric motives and a little bit of 70ies in it!

  10. Amanda says:

    What is the paint colour on the wall behind the big penguin? I love it!

  11. Amazing apartment. LOOOOVE the bedroom. :)

  12. Isabelle says:

    Love that orange dresser.

  13. Thank you so much for all your kind words ;-) The color behind the penguin is mustard yellow or “jaune moutarde” in French !

  14. i could live here! this place is whimsical and stylish. Just gorgeous. I love the “Jaune Mortarde” penguin ! Love love it.

  15. Amanda says:

    Hi Emilie, I was wondering about the actual brand of paint and colour name.

  16. Jerrica says:

    Love the home.
    But Design*Sponge, I am not a fan of your new website….

  17. Michele Bachi says:

    I really like the bedding, but I couldn’t find it on the Fly website…there’s definitely a possibility it’s user error, since I can’t read French and may not have been navigating around correctly. :-) Is it still available? All these rooms are beautiful, by the way.

  18. Hello Michele, I’m so sorry but the bedding is still not available… I bought this 3 years ago ;-(

  19. Amy says:

    love the bedroom. Would love to know where the bed frame was from and night stands /)

  20. Sara says:

    That penguin though! I want it!

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