13 Feb, 2010

Interiors: Primary colours

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

As spring approaches, cast off the beige and take on technicolour – like the owner of this 19th-century Paris apartment

Elegant Parisian ­apartments aren’t known for their bold use of ­colour. So when Mathilde Baralhé – a lifelong fan of bright shades – moved into her new home, she filled it with primary-coloured furniture. But she kept the walls, floors, mouldings and panelling neutral. “I was tempted to paint the apartment in bright colours,” she says, “but I was worried the combination would be too much. It is now the perfect backdrop to the ­furniture.” The reds, yellows and blues are ­repeated throughout to give her home a sense of cohesion.

Living room

Baralhé has stuck to her three-way primary colour scheme – from armchairs to coffee cups. The mock snakeskin rug is linoleum that she cut in the shape of a ­traditional bearskin (try Armstrong Flooring). “Most of the furniture is pretty arty, but I didn’t want the flat to look like a gallery. So I chose natural colours for the walls, such as greys and linens,” she says. “I wanted to make a feature of the mouldings, so I picked those out in a darker shade. I also made sure some furniture was more discreet, such as a white sofa.” The coffee table and lounge chair are by Italian designer Pucci de Rossi (made75.com).


The hallway is dominated by an ­extraordinary zebra “rug” etched into the wood floor. “The floors in the hall were in such poor condition they couldn’t be r­efurbished, so I asked the ­artist Marc-Antoine Moroy, who ­specialises in trompe l’oeil, to paint this for me. He used oil paint d­irectly on to the polished floorboards, then varnished it so that it wouldn’t deteriorate too quickly.” Try Stephen Farnworth for similar finishes in the UK. The red, blue and yellow ­palette continues with a dozen framed prints, with walls and ­panelling in neutral shades.

Dining room

A set of Louis XVI-style chairs have been given a twist with PVC seats and backs, while a wall-mounted bookcase picks out primary shades, tying ­together the apartment’s colour scheme. The red and black zebra-print rug is by Tassin.


A red PVC bed takes centre stage in the master bedroom. ­Deborah Bowness’s Books ­wallpaper covers wardrobe doors and ­continues the trompe d’oeil theme.

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