First of all, thank you for being so inspiring and approachable. I love your blog, French By Design, and have admired it for years.
Thank you so much, Brianna, for having me here in your beautiful space!
Your new book, How The French Live, is really meaningful for me because I get to hold a physical copy of something beautiful in my hands. It’s almost like the blog came to life. So, how did you decide you wanted to write a book like this?
Did you feel something stirring within you or were you approached to write a book?
I had been approached previously by a publisher to write a book, but I wasn’t ready for it, so I declined. Then in December 2016, Gibbs Smith approached me and gave me full creative power to choose the topic and the execution of the book. It was amazing to literally be given the keys to my dream: traveling the world and visiting homes and exchanging with strangers about a more meaningful approach to décor.
Wow. I am totally swooning over here. That is such a gift. Go Gibbs Smith! That’s like every artist’s dream.
One thing I think is interesting to mention for the story is that when Gibbs Smith approached me, they told me that one of their editors was a fan of my blog and that’s why they were interested in collaborating. Proof that you never know who reads your blog, even if they never comment on any of your posts. My advice is put out there your best work and keep working hard, good things will happen and the right people will recognize your value.
Thank you for saying that. I think that’s so valuable to keep in mind. I needed to hear that. I’m certainly glad you followed your own advice because we now get to enjoy your beautiful book.
As far as the approach to writing How the French Live, I wanted to write something different, not an expert book like we see everywhere, something more meaningful, so I arranged the book by family and by chapter to go deeper in the “visit”. I also wanted to add a food part to the book because, in my culture, food is so important! At the end of each chapter, the family shares one of their signature recipe to the reader. I love that the book is not only a décor or a cookbook but a lifestyle book.
Those recipes look so good. I can’t wait to try the Grilled Fig and Burrata Salad.
I love everything about your book and your ethos “less house, more home”, the idea of creating something beautiful but not perfect, not matchy but real. Do you feel that this why so many Americans are fascinated by what you teach…fascinated with the French in general?
I think my US readers are intrigued by how we, the French and Europeans in general, decorate our homes. Everything is more organic in our approach to décor.
We don’t think as much about symmetry and color coordination, we test and try, we adjust what works, what doesn’t. As a result, French interiors tend to have more “outside the box” décor ideas, bolder color or decor statements. Many of my American friends are terrified of trying a new wall color that is not beige or neutral. My approach to décor is that it needs to feel right for you and your family, not what décor rules say or how your neighbor decorate. You live in your home, make it eye candy for you and your loved ones!
There’s this saying I often share with my friends and repeat to myself, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” As a personal stylist, I’ve noticed that the way the French live also translates to the way they dress and style themselves. Do you find this to be true? What’s your take on it?
This is music to my ear, Brianna! When I consult on a décor project, I often ask in the early stage of the project to see my client’s closet. If you wear a lot of colors, chances are your interior should embrace the power of color as well. If you approach your home décor with your own, individual and unique style, and embrace your “uniqueness”, your interior will have so much more character.
I love that Si! That’s so funny you say that because I do see that when I do Wardrobe Edits in my client’s homes. Their unique mark is on everything.
What’s one thing you hope your readers take away from this book?
I aim at inspiring people to live their décor more authentically, to surround themselves with pieces that have a meaning, create a nest for their loved ones, follow their intuition and their own style to create their décor.
Each chapter of How the French Live presents a family with a unique personality and the style of their home fits them. I don’t think décor can come as a one-size-fits-all. Let your home tell your story, dare a little, try new colors or ideas, chances are you’ll have fun being your own designer and your interior will have so much character, because it fits your lifestyle, and looks more… like you!
I could take that sentence and just insert “personal style”. I totally agree though that our homes can tell our story. That’s a lovely way of looking at things.
You have such a keen eye. Truly. I love your aesthetic. I’m curious, in your opinion, what’s the most important thing to remember when defining your personal style?
Thank you, Brianna!
For me, style comes only with confidence. You can wear the latest fashion show outfit or the season’s IT bag or shoes, but if you don’t own your style, if you are not confident about yourself in this outfit, then it’s a huge miss. Find the pieces that make you feel good about yourself; if you feel good, sexy and your best in an outfit, then your true style radiates! It doesn’t have to be the most expensive outfit in your closet; for me, for example, it’s a pair of skinny jeans, my Marant suede ankle boots and a Chanel red on my lips.
In your home, it’s pretty much the same. If you buy the same furniture as everyone else, then your home will look… like everyone else’s. Unleash your inner designer, try, experiment and above all, have fun setting up the décor of your nest. Your home is where the magical moments happen with the people that truly matter in your life. Make this space count.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! You’re such an inspiration and truly sweet persona.
My final question is kind of a fun one. I ask all my clients and I’m really excited to hear what you say. Of any person, male or female, famous, non-famous or infamous, living or dead, fictional or non-fictional who best represents your personal style?
Ah, tough one. If I had to choose one person, I’d say Isabel Marant. She’s one of those few designers that never miss the mark for me, season after season. I instantly feel sexier and more confident wearing her clothes and her pieces are perfectly tailored. I’m a huge fan.
Thanks for having me, Brianna!
Huge shout out to Si for taking the time from her book launch and new website launch for answering my questions and for sharing such powerful insight. I hope this interview has helped you feel inspired to take more risks when it comes to both your home and decor and your personal style.
Win a copy of Si’s book + $100 gift card to French Girl Organics
Si generously provided a free copy of her new book, How The French Live, to me so that I could give it away to one lucky winner. Being the total Francophile that I am, I’ve decided to sweeten the pot to include a few added bonuses.
In addition to a free copy of Si’s book, I’m also including a $100.00 gift card to French Girl Organics. But…wait…there’s more.
Style and beauty isn’t just about being well-read or having flawless skin, it’s about what is on the inside as well.
So you winner you, also get $100 donated to She’s The First in your name. She’s The First is an organization that fights gender inequality through education. Now is your chance to make a difference in the life of young women around the world and to choose to support women-owned and operated business.
This is the coolest thing and I so want you to win.