FRENCH LESSONS
Belle Magazine Australia|October 2021
A visit to François Motte’s converted historic home in the heart of Paris is an adventure that is chaotic and colourful yet still superbly functional.

COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU CAME TO RESIDE IN YOUR HOME?

Fifteen years ago, I accidentally visited this place – near Montmartre, a district of Paris I have always loved – and immediately saw the potential. It was a near-abandoned ground floor of a tiny mansion where a craftsman still worked and lived. With its high-ceilinged car shed, brick stable, attic for storing fodder accessed by a ladder and concierge’s lodge, it was an inspiring witness to a vanished Paris. There was also a small courtyard where I could make a garden – and find peace in the heart of the city.

WHAT DID THE ALTERATIONS ENTAIL?

The place was not inhabited for years. It took two days to clear everything out, followed by a few months of construction. From my first visit, the new layout was obvious. I wanted a large kitchen through which to enter the house – somewhere to cook, of course, but also have meals in the evening for two. I wanted a large, fairly theatrical dining room where I could entertain friends, and the car shed was perfect for its size. I wanted to make the stable into an intimate space, a library and reading room, and I wanted a tiny cocoon under the roof above as my bedroom. Of course, we had to create a bathroom, which I did in the same vein as the old stable, and I added a living room.

WHAT INFORMED THE SELECTION OF FURNITURE, ART, FITTINGS AND FINISHES?

When I moved in, I only had a few things. Mostly books, a few drawings, but very little furniture. I started to buy objects by association of colours or shapes from a first piece that had found its place in one of the rooms. I bought from Drouot, the great Parisian auction house, at flea markets or in second-hand shops, and when travelling. I like old textiles, rugs and ceramics. There are a lot of designs on the walls because I once lived with an illustrator who introduced me to this art. I collect green jugs, beach pebbles, old teapots and other absurd things. My only concessions to modernity are my cooking stove and the USM furniture, the extreme functionality of which I appreciate. There is also the purity of the lines and touches of bright colours such as the two green nightstands in the bedroom and this beautiful bookcase/credenza in the kitchen that houses part of my collection of cookbooks and antique plates.

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