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Home visit: inside a writer’s creative conversion

In an old glove factory, just outside Paris, the owners of one apartment have worked with the building’s utilitarian features to create a calm, open-plan home with a little fun mixed in…
A colourful living room with an IKEA sofa.
Room to work and play
For Anne-Solange and David, turning a blank canvas into a home started with a twinkle of an idea. ‘The first thing I thought when I saw this place was, “Let’s hang a swing from those beams!”’ says Anne-Solange. Two years on, the white, minimal space they moved in to has been brought to life with a mix of warm wooden pieces, family treasures and color. ‘A vibrant sofa was one of the main things I knew this place needed. I wanted something that would catch your eye and make you smile when you looked at it. We took our time deciding what to go for – I had my Pinterest board and we set aside a big budget. In the end, we didn’t need it. The answer was at IKEA – the perfect color, the perfect deep seats. Now, it’s our favorite spot. I can spend the whole day sitting with my laptop, writing, with Malo the cat beside me.’
A colourful chair and cushion.
Just enough personality
This apartment is bigger than the last one Anne-Solange and David shared, but they are still space-conscious. ‘The ceilings are high but the space isn’t huge, so we have to be careful. For us, part of a home being comfortable is it being calm and quiet – it’s not quiet for the eyes to have too much stuff,’ says David. So how do they strike a balance? ‘We give space to things we love, such as books, color, music, old pictures – their character adds texture, and that was one thing we felt this white box needed.’
Objects and a mirror displayed on a bookshelf.High ceilings in the open-plan living area.Anne-Solange sits at the piano.
‘Our home has two faces. Often, it’s solitary and quiet – the perfect place for a writer’s thoughts to find their way on to the page. Other times, it’s sociable – with friends gathered to eat, drink and discuss’
Anne-Solange, Fontenay-sous-Bois
An open-plan kitchen and dining area.
A kitchen for a sociable chef
Growing up in the country gave Anne-Solange and David a love of country kitchens. ‘It’s not about the style, it’s about the idea – in old French country houses, you walk directly into the kitchen. People work round the table, the postmaster pops in for coffee, it’s a very warm way of life. We’ve tried to capture that here. The beauty of an open-plan space is that you can be together. We made a few changes here to make the space feel even more open – taking down the cupboards on the walls and just having open shelves. It lets in more light. And we use the central group of cabinets as an island, where the cook can chop while others sit at the bar and chat, or help.’
A bedroom with white walls and clever storage.
Streamlined sleep space
‘I grew up on boats and I actually love the feeling of being enclosed in our bedroom – it’s like a cocoon, it makes me feel secure,’ says Anne-Solange. The couple have worked to maximize the space they have. A run of three chests of drawers under the low-hung windows boosts storage, using a curtain as the wardrobe door adds warmth to the space, hides clutter and saves on floorspace, and in the spare room, a daybed with built-in drawers means guests have a comfortable place to sleep, and the couple have a neat way to store extra bedding.
Safety tip – don’t forget to fix chests of drawers to the wall.
A portrait of Anne-Solange and David at home.
How we wrote our own home rules
What does home mean to you? ‘Home is like our paradise. It’s a place to feel good, where you can be yourself. Sometimes, it feels like we’re being told there is an ideal way of life, but everybody has very special habits and it’s for each of us to make our perfect home our own way.’
What’s it like to work where you live? ‘If you peeked in, you’d think I was a grandmother – it’s just me, the cat, and a big pot of tea that I refill throughout the day. There’s no music, just happy silence. And it’s lovely to me.’
What makes your home special? ‘In terms of things, it’s the small items, such as my favorite mug. I have one that feels so good in my hands and pressed to my lips. It’s broken, so I can’t drink from it anymore, but I keep it anyway. But for both of us, the light here is a wonderful thing. Even in bad weather, this place is bright, and we do all we can to keep it that way. We’ve added stuff, but not too much, we’ve brought in color, but not so much that it kills the light. Light is like therapy, we treasure it.’
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Take a tour of Anne-Solange and David’s light-filled industrial conversion
A floorplan of Anne-Solange and David’s home.
The split-level apartment is located in a former industrial complex. The ground floor is open-plan, combining the kitchen, dining area and living room. Upstairs is a small master bedroom and single guest room.
We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial warranties and your right to return the products will be lost.
Interior Designer: Carl Braganza
Photographer: Christina Bull