With hints of mid-century design rippling through his 19th-century apartment, Xavier Charvet has seamlessly created a home of outstanding natural beauty
Mid-century design ripples through an elegant 19th-century apartment.
The handsome Berlin home that French architect Xavier Charvet shares with his wife Coline and their five-year-old son Gabriel is a masterclass in restrained chic. Superbly nuanced, the interior draws on its owners’ intuitive approach to beauty, as well as their predilection for thoughtful, practical design embellished with artistic flair.
The couple bought the spacious apartment four years ago to experience Berlin’s burgeoning creativity first-hand. Although dated, the property was in fairly good condition, but structural adjustments were needed to improve its flow. “Like many late-nineteenth-century properties, it was a warren of narrow passageways with only one small bathroom,” says Xavier. “We sacrificed a bedroom for a bathroom and gently extended other areas, such as the sitting room, by removing unnecessary corridors.” What Xavier calls the “backbone” of the property is a central gallery providing access to many of the rooms. Clad with glossy rosewood, which conceals ugly pipework, it exudes warmth with a dash of old-school drama.
Perfecting a mix of Period styles
When it came to decorative matters, Xavier was keen to preserve traces of the apartment’s heritage, while indulging his penchant for mid-century design. With this in mind, new life was breathed into classical wall stuccos and ornate cornicing
in the drawing room, which Xavier paired with contemporary sculpture and a beautifully simple Robsjohn-gibbings chair. Elsewhere, the sumptuous curves of plump Vladimir Kagan Barrel chairs provide a fluid counterpoint to the crisp, clean lines of the woodwork, while a pair of magnificent Edward Wormley cabinets take centre stage in the sitting room. “The common thread is craftsmanship,” explains Xavier. “It’s one of the reasons I love designing furniture.”
Elsewhere, Xavier has embraced a more minimalist approach. For instance, the economy of the bathroom’s clean-cut marble style is what Xavier calls “an illusion”. As he says, “Sometimes it’s the simplest designs that require the most complex decisions.”
Making the rooms fit for purpose
There is a room for every moment of the day in the Charvet household. The drawing room lends itself to formal evening entertaining, while the more laid-back sitting room has been decorated with intimate gatherings in mind. “The mural enhances the cosiness in this room. It’s a very peaceful space, almost meditative,” says Xavier. As elsewhere, his passion for contemporary art and ceramics informs the ambience of the scheme. Flecks of green in the mosaic table complement the warm glow of the mural, while next door the country-style kitchen is painted with flashes of robust red. “The colour here was inspired by a glass of red wine. Bordeaux, I think.” How aptly French.
Sometimes it’s the simplest designs that require the most complex decisions.”
This generously proportioned space, reminiscent of Parisian salons of the 18th-century, has been brought up to date with streamlined mid-century furniture, eye-catching sculptures and a 12-seat sofa made to Xavier’s own design.
Interior design, Studio Charvet, studiocharvet.com. Bespoke
sofa, Ateliers Charles Jouffre, from around ¤15,000 plus fabric, charles-jouffre.com. Sofa in lavello in beige/off White, £108.40m, Sahco, sahco.com.
The striking black and white photographs (right) may resemble abstract art, but are actually close-ups of sea shells.
Photographs, Philippe Ughetto, illustrationsphotos.fr.
Xavier used the repetitive pattern of the parquet flooring to create the illusion of length in the gallery (above left). Illuminating the space with a soft glow is a light that was a chance vintage shop find. Vladimir Kagan Barrel armchair, from £6,000 excluding fabric, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, carpentersworkshopgallery.com.
Neat built-in mirrors conceal valuable storage space in the minimalist bathroom (above), where Arabescato marble creates a luxurious feel. Cubo Biemissione lights, from £360 each, Viabizzuno at Cirrus Lighting, cirruslighting.co.uk. For arabescato marble, try Pure Stone, pure-stone.co.uk.
The doorway into the bathroom meant there was no space for a bedside table, so Xavier designed the rosewood headboard (right) with hidden storage on each side. “It is also fitted with sockets, so I can charge my phone overnight.”