A Zen space, but written in bold colors
Vibrant, warm, flamboyant — the interiors created by Florence Guillot are a genuine reflection of herself.
A veteran of moving house, the French stylist has learned what should take priority when setting up a new home. She takes an inside-out approach to how she engages with and experiences a space.
“I always believe I can make any space into a homely home with the pieces I have collected over the years,” she said.
“Some things will be replaced with new favorites, but there are core items, such as the kokeshi dolls that I would love to keep for a long time to come.”
Guillot has moved four times in the city since 2007 and the current two-level apartment she shares with her younger daughter Leonie and dog Dandy is hidden inside a quiet lane off Wukang Road. Guillot was drawn to the location as it was quite central. The place had also been renovated and was ready for her to move in.
She liked the high ceilings, open-plan downstairs living and the balcony, which can be hard to find in the city. “The space is much smaller than my previous home; it is time for me to pick the essentials and abandon the unnecessary things.”
Guillot finds the decorating process quite instinctive. “I’m very emotional, so when I love a piece, I’m convinced I will find a place for it.”
She also gets very obsessed if something does not look right. “I will spend long time rearranging until I feel it works and flows.”
Guillot’s living room always feels rich, warm and vibrant, with a bold red theme. “I appreciate Zen atmosphere, but I always end up with an interior that incorporates bold colors and a rich and exotic mix of accessories and textures,” she said.
However, the charm of this house lies in its unique, funky style. The aim was not to create a clean, sleek home but rather, a bohemian lifestyle with a whimsical, playful attitude. Guillot used color and pattern courageously, and every corner in this two-level space presented a different mood.
Guillot’s love of fun objects is one of the defining features of the home.
A round Chinese-style red shelf greets guests at the front door. It displays a fun collection of knick-knacks from kokeshi (traditional wooden Japanese dolls), daruma (traditional Japanese dolls that are the symbol of perseverance and luck) to random objects that make one laugh.
Fun objects adorn every available nook and cranny — on the kitchen shelf; next to where she works; above the cabinets. “I’ve always loved to collect these quirky, funny stuff, especially during my years living in Japan.”
Given the size of her fun collection, editing it regularly is essential. “I rarely go looking for anything. If it finds me it comes home and I make it work somehow,” she said.
The red-themed living area is composed of a comfy sofa and armchairs upholstered with exotic fabrics. The high bookshelf displays the books on art and fashion and again, fun items are mixed in. Beautiful black-and-white photographs of her two daughters Margaux and Leonie adorn one side of wall, giving their nice smiles to the family as well as the guests.
The other side of the big room belongs to the dining area which also give full rein to Guillot’s artistic instincts. It sets a chilled mood for organizing a nice dinner, surrounded by beautiful pieces such as the artwork Grace of Buddha by famous artist Ann Niu. The dining chairs are all in different shapes and styles to give a more unique total look.
“Color is really joyful to me,” Guillot said. “If there’s a choice between something colorful and something plain, I’m always drawn to the colors.”
Surprisingly, for all the colors and enchantment inside, Guillot is most relaxed in her balcony, just outside the living space, where she places a chic outdoor table, a comfy lounge chair for sun bathing, as well as plants and flowers in full bloom at this moment.
“For me, watering plants and just sitting here with greens around is very relaxing. The quietness of the neighborhood gives off a Zen feeling,” she said.
The second level is the private zone for her and Leonie. The 14-year-old girl decorated her own bedroom with her preferred soothing colors where she can study, chill out and play with her friends.
Guillot’s bedroom features a Japanese-meets-French aesthetics with relaxed linen fabrics and earthy tones. Traditional Japanese accessories and artworks adorn every nook and cranny in the room.
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: The best thing about living in Shanghai is to immerse myself in the incredible energy of the city. It’s great to bike everywhere and meet people from different countries and backgrounds.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Red, warm, Asian.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: A book with music on my huge living room sofa.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: The kitchen and the balcony.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Trees, trees, trees.
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: The otafuku paper mask that is a cherry-faced figure bringing happiness to the interior.
Q: Where do you source furniture in Shanghai?
A: Everywhere and mostly are second-hands or antiques.