Slow living in Lisbon with Hélène Fulchi founder of Minois Paris
The Tagus River looms up at the end of the corridor. A grey-blue line shimmering on the horizon beneath a ray of sunshine. “The river is part of our apartment and interior decor,” Hélène Fulchi announces straightaway. “Our living room is arranged around it. With its ballet of sailing boats and liners, it gives us a unique view. It’s a continuous spectacle in its own right. Such a soothing view as this is an incredible source of inspiration.” The founder of Minois Paris, the chic brand of natural cosmetics for children, dropped anchor on the west coast of Portugal with her family nearly two years ago. “With this city turned towards the sea and bathed in sunlight, it was a case of love at first sight. We were captivated by the sense of opening and creative freedom that reigns here. We wanted to live amidst this effervescence and dynamism.” The timing was also perfect. Her husband, Nicolas Barbier, creative director of the men’s clothing line, Drapeau Noir, manufactured part of his collections in northern Portugal. And their daughter, Paz, had just turned two, so schooling didn’t have to be taken in account yet. For this couple of entrepreneurs, in search of something new and a dolce vita, Lisbon seemed like the place of their dreams. That their apartment, perched atop the hill in the Lapa district, so prettily embodies the sweetness of Portuguese life, is hardly an accident. Starting with the set of black ceramic swallows – Portugal’s traditional symbols of home, love and loyalty – hanging on the hall wall. These migratory birds are also found in white this
As in her products with minimalist packaging and the most natural ingredients, “less is more” is Hélène’s maxim.
time on one of the walls in Paz’s powder pink bedroom. A shade of pink that recalls the one used by the Minois Paris brand and the colour of the sky here at nightfall. The apartment is literally inundated with the famous light that pleases Lisbon residents and visitors so much. This heart-warming light filtering through the home from sunrise to sunset and the sight of the Tagus on the blue horizon are the dominant features of the streamlined interior decor. As in her products with minimalist packaging and the most natural ingredients, “less is more” is Hélène’s maxim. “We brought very little with us when we left France,” she tells us. “I like the idea of renewal and of working my interior decor around the place where I am living; taking the time to choose beautiful objects made by local craftsmen and recreating a space.” Each new item was thus selected with passion and care. Take, for example, the second-hand 1950s armchair found in the Marvila district, where former warehouses have been converted into art galleries and vintage goods shops, and where the couple like to wander and have brunch at the weekend. Thus dotted through the family home are articles carefully crafted in Portugal: a rug designed by an artist working for the brand Gur; an illustration from the letterpress print shop Artes & Letras; and an elegant handmade bowl from Círculo Ceramics. Simple, discreet objects that all tell part of a new story. “Before we moved to Lisbon, I dreamt of doing a trip around the world. I wanted to step outside our comfort zone,” admits Hélène. “I like taking risks. Otherwise I get bored. But I can see us living here for a long time. I don’t see how we could ever grow tired of this view opening onto infinity.”
Céline and Pierric have made a home for their recomposed family in a pretty little house in the suburbs of Paris. Lovingly renovated by them, this is where the couple and their five children meet up every other week.
In this extended house, the members of this recomposed family happily cohabit and like to gather round the long dining table or wood-burning stove.
Pushing open Céline and Pierric’s small black gate, visitors find themselves in a delightful little courtyard. The sheltered deck at the back, beside an olive tree, is an invitation to lounging, laughter and dinners among friends on long summer evenings.
The tone is instantly set: this is a place where people are into home decor, love to browse at flea markets and salvage goods. There’s also a lean-to for Pierric’s racing bikes and DIY tools. Were he not an event designer for Chanel, he might have been a carpenter or furniture designer. One only has to walk through the door to realise that much of the furniture in the home has been handmade or repaired and revamped after being found in the street by this DIY fiend who has a real knack for unearthing treasures. When she met him three years ago, Céline, who works in public relations for the French estate agent website De Particulier à Particulier (pap.fr), already had a fondness for untreated furniture and authentic materials. She has, however, completed the interior decoration of their new home: her bohemian textiles, tableware and family paintings, have, with the odd splodge of colour, added a soft feminine touch.
The bedroom for the boys, Léo, Louis and Eliott, was built in the former attic by Pierric, who divided it into three alcoves, so that they would each have their own hideaway. The girls, Camille and Blanche, have their own rooms, too. In this extended house, the members of this recomposed family happily cohabit and like to gather round the long dining table or wood-burning stove. Harmony is a word that seems apt here. To describe both this new family and the house in which they live.