ISSUE 75  |  Travels with an Editor: Paris

Mixing Prints and Vintage Furniture with Alix Thomsen in Paris

June 04, 2013 1:30 PM

BY Alexa Hotz

In the Faubourg Poissonniére home of Alix Thomsen and Lionel Bensemoun, everything is vintage. The couple together launched Alix’s eponymous line, Thomsen, and Bensemoun is both a restauranteur and hotelier behind Nanashi, Le Baron, and La Fidelité. Each bring their own background to the design of the single floor flat: Thomsen’s appreciation of Liberty prints and 1920s vintage mix with Bensemoun’s collections of antique toys and sculptures.

Thomsen, who was born in South Africa and raised in Paris, has filled her home around the meaningful accessories picked up while traveling. “I love to go to Japan and Mexico–the mix of European with other spiritual cultures appeals to me. You have to mix everything–I don’t want to be set in a specific time, I prefer to blend eras together,” she says as we walk through her hallway into her daughter’s bedroom. Each room has its own vintage wallpaper: red roses against a black background in the play room, Sandberg’s teal blue Raphael wallpaper in another room, sparrows on floral branches. When I ask her advice on mixing prints, Thomsen says, “There aren’t any rules because it’s all intuitive. Sometimes you would think that two prints could work well together, but you get them side by side and they fall flat. It’s when you get the prints next to each other and they both stand out; that’s when you know it’s worked. There is no mathematical rule: stripes with flowers or flowers with flowers, whatever works.”

Photography by Natalie Weiss for Remodelista.

Above: Thomsen and Bensemoun’s favorite antique resources are on Avenue Trudaines in the 9th arrondissement, where many small shops sell antiques from various time periods.

Above: A statue sourced from Thomsen’s favorite flea market. “I love to go to the Puces de Saint Ouen, even if it’s not always in my budget.”

Above: An antique brass chandelier hangs askew in the living room and a taxidermy bird is mounted just on the back wall.

Above: Thomsen wears a jacket and trousers from her line: the Thomsen suit.

Above: “When we first arrived here, we found a big restaurant that was closing and selling a lot of pieces so we got both sofas for only €100 each.”

Above: A collection of illustrations and a model of the Empire State Building, a gift from a friend who showed up one day with it in hand.

Above: Bensemoun is a natural collector: “Lionel is a crazy collector, he brings lots of objects home. My work is to arrange them all, but really, it’s not a bad job.”

Above: An old motorcycle helmet, artwork by a friend, and a Kachina doll on the wall.

Above: While no household members are surfers, Thomsen and Bensemoun like the look of the teal surfboard in the corner of the living room.

Above: Thomsen in her home office.

Above: The master bedroom is full of rich color, tapestries from Burgundy, and an overhead projector for watching movies in bed.

Above: Silk fringed curtains just behind the navy velvet, both made by Thomsen from fabric sourced in and around Paris.

Above: Now that their daughter, Blanche, is three years old, she’s moved into a girls’ bed. Thomsen has designed her room in similar floral prints and antiques but lets Blanche add to it with toys and accessories as she pleases.

Above: A lampshade meant for a table lamp is flipped upside down to function as a ceiling light.

Above: Blanche’s bedroom looks out onto the courtyard. Curtains made by Thomsen are tied back with tassels from the flea.

For more houses and restaurants I visited while in Paris, see our Travels with an Editor: Paris series and see our past post on Benesmoun’s restaurant, Nanashi in Paris.