Grey is here to stay, but this year it’s all about adding depth

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words CLAU­DIA BAILLIE Pho­tog­ra­phy MICHEL FIGUET

Din­ing room The ta­ble was cus­tom-made by Arnold Devincq, the chairs are by Paola Navone for Ger­va­soni and the spher­i­cal pen­dant lights over­head are by Co­ralie Beauchamp


Calm­ing, el­e­gant and the ideal foil for more colour­ful fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories, greys have long been a go-to back­drop for many de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects. But in Ar­naud Mas­son’s Brus­sels-based home, dark, dra­matic shades and a wealth of con­trast­ing tex­tures take this hue to an ex­cit­ing new level. Nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, sim­plic­ity and well­be­ing are at the root of this prop­erty’s grey in­te­rior. ‘ I was tired of mod­ern de­sign and per­fect ob­jects,’ says Ar­naud. ‘My aim was to get rid of non-es­sen­tials, to find some­thing more mod­est. I wanted to ex­plore a way to re­veal the beauty of im­per­fect things.’ With this in mind, Ar­naud worked with ar­chi­tec­tural firm K2A to de­vise a de­sign that would com­pletely avoid the use of syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als. ‘ We used clay, wood, steel and tade­lakt, all of which have unique colours that re­flect the hues of the earth: mono­chrome and min­i­mal­ist, dark, sim­ple and with­out any pre­ten­sion. I love the en­ergy that they cre­ate, and the feel­ing of well­ness that brings.’


Lo­cated in the lively and sought-after dis­trict of Châte­lain in Brus­sels, this prop­erty was once two ter­raced houses, which Ar­naud, the head of real es­tate com­pany Per­mis de Con­stru­ire, bought three years ago. Col­lab­o­rat­ing with K2A, he worked hard to fuse the ad­ja­cent build­ings, while still main­tain­ing re­spect for the tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture. ‘The orig­i­nal houses were tall and nar­row,’ he says. ‘ We used the en­tire space, cre­at­ing a six-storey, 750-square-me­tre home with four large bed­rooms, two of­fices and a very spa­cious liv­ing area that in­cludes a kitchen, din­ing room, lounge and bar.’


‘Homes nat­u­rally tend to de­te­ri­o­rate, but, with this project, we wanted to cre­ate a space that gets more beau­ti­ful as time passes,’ says Ar­naud. ‘The house has a very prim­i­tive feel.’ Its walls are coated in dark pig­mented clay that has been fed with lin­seed oil and in­stalled by Brus­sels­based firm Odilon Cre­ations. The lower floors and stair­cases are crafted from Pastel­lone, a nat­u­ral prod­uct made with lime and mar­ble pow­der, while Moroc­can tade­lakt plas­ter is used to cre­ate the work­sur­faces in the kitchen and bar area. More tade­lakt fea­tures in the bath­room, where it has been used to mould the wash­basins and a gen­er­ous free­stand­ing bath­tub. Up­stairs, the floors are made of smooth smoked oak, as is the join­ery through­out the home, de­signed by Ar­naud and ar­chi­tec­ture firm K2A and made to mea­sure by Bel­gian car­pen­try com­pany Re­cob. ‘The idea was to use a lim­ited pal­ette of ma­te­ri­als and to cre­ate an en­ergy from their strength,’ says Ar­naud.


Much of the fur­ni­ture is be­spoke and fit­ted to the space, which helps to cre­ate a seam­less, un­clut­tered look. The cur­tains and upholstery all fea­ture a taste­ful mix­ture of smooth and slubby linens in neu­tral shades. The same ca­sual colour scheme is used for the ‘Ghost’ sofa and din­ing chairs by Paola Navone for Ger­va­soni. ‘ We wanted ev­ery­thing to look in­for­mal, el­e­gant and re­laxed,’ ex­plains Ar­naud. In the main bed­room, cus­tom­made ar­chi­tec­tural wall pan­elling has been painted black, and within it sits an in­te­grated head­board cov­ered in grey linen. The guest bed­room has a co­coon­like feel, thanks to the grey linen pan­elling lin­ing the walls, the soft­ness of which cre­ates a pleas­ing con­trast with the con­crete pen­dant lamps and bed­side ta­bles. Art also fea­tures in many of the rooms. ‘I source pieces from Paris and Lon­don,’ says Ar­naud. ‘I es­pe­cially like street art – it’s im­per­fect and au­then­tic, so it fits in with the spirit of this house.’

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