We shared a sneaky peek of Georgia’s rather fabulous numbered stairs on our Instagram feed last week and there were a great many admiring comments and multiple likes from you lovely lot so I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to love the rest of her Francophile inspired house just as much. I don’t want to reveal too much in advance but I will say that Georgia has made sure that every corner of her home has been treated with the same amount of love and attention as those stairs have and it’s clear that she’s had a whole heap of fun in the process.
Over to you Georgia
Maison de Mathieu: The Story
We bought our house two years ago when another house we were buying in the area fell through.
As soon as I saw it online, I knew this was our house. We viewed it that evening, put an offer in straight away and took it off the market. It was a dream to have a double-fronted red brick Victorian home.
The house didn’t strike us as a huge project, we just knew the owners had eclectic taste and were a huge fan of wallpaper, so there was work to do. I have a creative streak, and the ability to imagine and visualise things beyond what’s infront of me. And I saw the huge potential in this home.
We moved in when I was 3 months pregnant and immediately got cracking. We stripped the walls to find that in some areas, there were up to seven layers of wallpaper dating decades back. What we found underneath were walls in need of repair.
We decided to replaster the whole house and start from scratch. I then started choosing colours for the rooms, and putting Pinterest boards together. My husband is French, and over the years we have accumulated some wonderful vintage finds, which I made sure were worked into each room, as feature pieces.
The Living Room
The living room has a beautiful old French chandelier hanging from the centre rose, which we picked up at an antique market round the corner from Fe’s parent’s house in Paris. The Sunday market is famous, Portes de Vanves, I highly recommend it! We also picked up the wall chandeliers there too, on another visit.
When we moved in there was carpet in both the living room and dining room. We ripped it up and saw floorboards underneath. Bingo! We got a French Polisher round who sanded them, varnished them and gave them a new lease of life. Some showed signs of wood worm but the imperfections add character. And with kids running around, they were never destined to be perfect anyway.
The fire was open and not particularly efficient giving off loads of smoke. So this winter we had a stove installed. We love it and put it on every night. The original sash windows were still in place, so we replaced them with same-style modernised version, in keeping with the property. And downstairs we have cafe style wooden shutters, which bounce the daylight into the room and give us privacy at night.
Under the window is an old French radio and record player in a walnut wood unit. It looks like your average console table, until you hear echoes of Edith Piaf coming from the record player.
Above the fireplace we have pictures of Lex that were taken on a family photoshoot by our wedding photographer Binky Nixon. On the radiator ledge I have our album too, which I like to be accessible. I always think it’s sad when albums are tucked away in the loft for safe-keeping. It’s such a huge day, show it off and let the day live on!
Above our Loaf sofa, which is super cosy and relaxing we have a mirror from QD stores that cost £20. I love it, because you’d never know. It’s all about context. Something cheap, in the right setting, can still look the part. I love mixing up bargains, inherited family pieces along with vintage “toot” and more indulgent purchases. It’s great when it comes together.
I painted the three receptions rooms downstairs Farrow and Ball Cornforth White (which is actually a nice grey), having them all the same colour enables the rooms to flow. Our living room leads nicely into the music room. Called such, because it’s dominated by the piano, guitar and saxophone which are resident here. Our first home, a flat in Clapham was bought on probate. We looked around and found nothing but a piano in the entire flat. It looked so lonely that we immediately adopted it (and bought the flat!). Since then, we’ve taken the piano with us, wherever we’ve gone and now our little one loves to sit and play on it too.
Perched on the piano is a gorgeous large mirror handmade by Jessie Chorley with a big bow on top. It’s made out of paper mache newspaper with traditional Welsh script, a nod to Jessie’s heritage. Jessie also made a gorgeous heart hanging with our initials and French paper for our wedding day. It was hung in the arch at the church and the eaves of the wedding breakfast, and now takes pride of place in every home we’ve had since.
Also on top of the piano is a bust. Again this was a steal bought from Maison du Monde, my all-time favourite shop in the whole wide world where I buy all my rustic romantic French interiors. It was super cheap (about 15EURO) and in context, I think looks great. The lace curtains at the window are from H&M and give a dreamy feel to the room.
The hallway was an important project for us, something I had dreamt of doing, and thankfully, my patient skilful husband, put my ideas into practice and made it a reality. We painted the hallway in an eggshell paint which is very smelly but super durable. You can wipe off any marks very easily, perfect for a high-traffic area in your home.
The bottom half of the hallway we created a pannelling effect and painted it in Farrow and Ball Manor House Grey to add a dark rich effect. The top white is Wimborne White. The panels were made of dado rails, cut with a mitre saw, and took meticulous precision and planning. On the floor we took the house back to its former glory by putting in black and white Victorian mosaic tiles.
We also have a gallery wall of family photographs (which is expanding quickly). The carpet was ripped off the stairs and we painted them white; the perfect backdrop to our French calligraphy numbers we installed to help little ones count. We plan to raise our family bilingually. This striking monochrome theme, with the stairs and the floor is a great welcome for our guests.
Our kitchen has been my most challenging room. The light in the kitchen is more limiting than in other rooms. And I feel natural light is so important. When we moved in I was unsure of the red terracotta tiles on the floor. Initially I embraced them, and then last summer I was ready for change. My husband and I decided to paint them all white, buy a stencil from Dizzy Duck Designs and stencil a pattern over them with Annie Sloane chalk paint in Paris Grey. We then sealed it and it’s totally transformed the room.
The kitchen is still work in progress, with new cupboard doors and worktops coming soon. The walls are Farrow and Ball French Gray. My favourite thing about the kitchen is the island. When hosting it gives me somewhere to stand, to sit, to linger, rather than hovering awkwardly while talking to you. I also love the Gare du Nord station clock that is perched on the wall. A nod to my husband, a Parisian born and bred.
The Dining Room
In the Dining Room you will find the beautiful polished floors we salvaged. We have a huge French mirror to reflect the light in the room, as it can feel rather narrow with the table in there. The mirror was a complete splurge from Nicky Cornell furniture, and is super heavy too. But is well worth the effort, and has the wow factor.
I have a tea chest on one side of the fireplace, full of teaware I collected for my wedding, and for years afterwards, I became obsessed with tea sets. The chest is also from New Vintage and is perfect to display and store things. On the other side of the wall is shelving and alcoves which helps house all my many curious finds picked up in vintage shops, market finds or treasured family photos.
The dream of a bay window is the option to build a window seat. It was a no brainer for us; extra seating, extra storage and an extra (pretty amazing) feature. Our carpenter even put some panelling detail on it, to match our hall way.
Upstairs you find our boudoir, which is entirely dominated by our jaw-dropping bed from The French Bedroom Company. It’s an extravagant purchase which is well worth it. We spend several hours a day in our bed, so why not make it a nice one? The FBC guys know luxury furniture when they see it. The quality and selections they have are amazing. I’d buy it all if I could.
I chose to have Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath in our bedroom. With the hints of gold, and all the mirrored furniture, to make the light bounce around the room. As it’s west-facing the furniture reflects the sunsets on summer evenings just beautifully.
Our guest room is the only room in the house with wallpaper. After months of removing it all I could only bear to have it on one wall. It’s a beautiful Laura Ashley toile print, which suits the cream, light, dreamy decor in the room. There are shelves and alcoves again, to hold our vintage books, props and other curiosities. On the other side are family photographs of my mother, grandmother and her mother. I discovered them accidentally in a suitcase in my parent’s garage and thought it was a crime that they were stored away like that. So I put them in copper frames to appreciate everyday. Some of the shots of my mum toddling about are truly adorable.
The nursery was an exciting, surreal room to decorate. Everyone knows with babies comes expense. I didn’t believe on forking out on a set of nursery furniture costing hundreds of pounds which was clinical and lacked character. Instead, I went on ebay and bought a traditional spindle cot for £20 and painted it in Annie Sloan Off White. I then bought a changing unit for £17 and did the same. Sorted!
We purchased a dreamy canope to hang above the cot from Maison du Monde. The room is centred around that and the wall mural. The wall mural was made to measure and is “Minuet in G Minor”, by JS Bach; a beautifully illustrated piece of music. It’s made by a company in Portugal called Little Hands Wallpaper. I picked out a colour from the mural, the rabbit’s banner, to inspire the paint for the rest of the room; it’s Farrow and Ball Mizzle.
In the centre is a chandelier, to offer plenty of light. Nothing fancy, from Wilkos, but still has the ability to set off the room. And we are grateful to the inherited shelves again, which are perfect for Lex’s books, blocks, bears, musical boxes and so on.
On leaving the nursery you find some pretty vintage spoons upcycled to make hooks. These are to hang our favourite outfits worn by Lex. He is such a big boy, most of them we only managed to see him in once. So rather than stashing them in the loft, they live on and are a part of the furniture. That’s my general ethos to things..don’t tuck things away and save them for best. Live and enjoy all you have, for all its worth.
Our thanks go to Georgia for showing us around her beautiful home and for being such a wonderful host. You can see more from Georgia over on her blog Madame Mathieu or visit her Instagram page for more visual treats! Who else is feeling inspired by those stairs! Are you tempted to give your own risers the same treatment? What room is your favourite? Why not share in the comments box below.