Tag Archive - french

A Look Into The Past – An UNTOUCHED (1942) Paris Apartment

My brother sent me the most fascinating article last week about an apartment discovered in Paris that had not been touched in 70 years!  I studied the pictures taking in every detail, and I knew I had to share it with you!  You can find a few articles online about this amazing real estate find, but after a little research, I found there was quite a bit of incorrect information floating around.  Therefore, I got to googling, used lots of Google Translate to help me decipher the articles in French, spent a ridiculous amount of time on French genealogy sites, and have for you all of the information there is to know.  I believe this article to be the most comprehensive available in English, so enjoy!

The discovered apartment in France is near the Pigalle Red Light District (where Moulin Rouge is located), in the ninth arrondissement (this basically means “district” – Paris is divided into twenty districts, and you can tell which one you are in by the last number in the zip code – Paris goes from 75001 to 75020).  Marthe de Florian was the apartment’s owner in what is called The Gilded Age (1870’s to turn of the century), which was a time of great growth in the arts.  In fact, the great find of the apartment after it was opened was a beautiful original painting by the legendary artist, Giovanni Boldini.  The muse?  Marthe de Florian herself.

So who was she?  Well, many will tell you she was an actress, and she may have been, but the reason she had great wealth was because she was in a group referred to as demimondaines. (also sometimes called courtesans)  Demimondaines were basically elite prostitutes.  They didn’t live on the streets, but in fancy apartments and hotels.  Known for drinking, gambling, and excessive spending, they always had the highest of fashion and a long list of well-known and wealthy lovers.  (Side Note:  Have you ever seen the movie Gigi?  I believe Gigi was being trained by her aunt in the movie to be a demimondaine, like she was.  In the end, Gaston, of course, decides he would much rather have her as his wife than a mistress.  So he marries her, and they live happily ever after.  No wonder I never really understood this movie as a child, geez.  My husband would probably liken this to the fact that I used to think “geisha” meant “princess”.)

The painting was identified as being an original Boldini, known as the “Master of Swish” for his flowy style, and it collected a cool  2.1 million pounds (or $3,454,080 USD) at auction.  Because of love letters found in the apartment from Boldini to de Florian and a reference to the painting by Boldini’s widow in an old memoir, historians pieced together that the woman in the painting found in the apartment was indeed Marthe de Florian.

artist, Giovanni Boldini

Marthe de Florian was born on September 9, 1864 in Paris.  Actually, her real name is Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron.  (she probably took Marthe de Florian as a stage name)  A record from 1882 shows she was a seamstress (she would have been 18), but of course, that did not pan out.  She never married, and I cannot find a death record from anywhere, but she did have a son; rather, she had two.  Marthe de Florian had a son and named him Henri in 1882, and he died in 1883.  (so she would have been a seamstress at the time)  In 1884, her second son Henri was born.  He lived until 1966 and died in Paris, and many have thought he did not marry nor have children.  However, he may have fathered a child named Solange Beaugiron.  (read on for more details)  Something interesting about the second Henri is that the midwife recorded that his mother was Mathilde Vaugiron with no known occupation.  In 1889, an addendum was made that said Mathilde Beaugiron had recognized the boy as hers.  It is unknown why there was a discrepancy, it could have been a simple mistake or a cover-up for having a child out of wedlock.  And perhaps she went from seamstress to demimondaine because she had a boy to support??  The above Boldini painting was said to have been painted when Marthe de Florian was 24 years old, which would have been 1888/1889, when Henri was around four or five years old.

So how did this apartment stay locked up for seventy years?  Well, there is some mystery here, and I have not been able to decipher what exactly happened, but here’s what I know.  The apartment had been passed down to the granddaughter of Marthe de Florian (referred to in the press as Madame de Florian), and she lived there until 1942, when the Nazis invaded Paris (“The Fall of France”).  She never returned, but continued paying for the apartment until her death at the age of 90 (some articles say 91) in 2010.  The apartment was deeded to her estate, and when some evaluators were sent to check out the mysterious real estate, they found the space untouched, “smelling of old dust”, and full of exotic taxidermy (a sign of wealth at the time),  representing a life nary a fingerprint since World War II.  (notice the Mickey Mouse!)

You may be wondering, like me, why the name of the granddaughter that kept ownership of the apartment has been shrouded since her death in 2010?  Apparently, France has very stringent family privacy laws, and most everyone is keeping their lips sealed.  I did translate an article, however, that suspected Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter may have been a woman named Sonlange Beaugiron.  She was a young playwright, and at age seventeen (1938), and under the pseudonym “Solang Beldo”, wrote and submitted a play called “Miss Mary”.  She was later quite upset when she found her manuscript was copied and turned into another successful play called “Heat Breast”.  The case was eventually settled between her father (since she was not of age), and the theater company, and all was well.  (In the article, her father was stated to be a pharmacist – perhaps Henri Beaugiron???) 

Something I thought was interesting when looking through all of these articles that I did not see mentioned in any of the American news stories was that Marthe de Florian kept her lovers letters together by a colored ribbon system – a different color for every lover.  (a woman after my own heart – she likes pretty organization!) Her son and granddaughter kept them together just as she had left them all those years ago.  Wouldn’t you love to read them?

Looking at these pictures is like looking at a history book, you can almost see storylines in the dusty papers and peeling gilt.  A seamstress turned demimondaine supporting a son hidden away that she desperately loved…Amidst the string of wealthy politicians and businessmen and artists she entertained, Boldini was her one true love…She may have died of a broken heart, and her scented perfume still lingers in the apartment she lived her life so long ago.  Long ago in Gay Paris.  Of course, these themes are just my musings, but I would love to know more of the story, wouldn’t you?

This is the ninth district in Paris today. The apartment is suspected to be in one of these buildings.

Since the apartment belongs in the de Florian/Beaugiron estate, it still exists somewhere in Paris, securely sealed, left exactly as it was found when it was opened for the first time in nearly seventy years in 2010.  Of course, the Boldini painting has been sold at auction, but everything else remains there, untouched and “smelling of old dust”.  As of now, there are no plans to open it to the public.


Geneology of Marthe de Florian

Mistress Mystery Q&A

1942 Time Capsule

Art Gallery Listing

An Apartment Discovery

Michelle Gable  (Michelle Gable has actually written a ficticious book called “The Paris Apartment” due out this year.

Collar City Brownstone – Article One, Article Two

Written by Grace

Gebhardt Guest Room/Office

**If you’re here for the first time, WELCOME!  I would love to know you, and if you would like to, please subscribe to “A Storied Style” by entering your email in Subscribe box in the sidebar.  Feel free to leave a comment and introduce yourself!**

You’re in for a treat today!  Aren’t room transformations THE BEST?!!

If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you have already seen two rooms come together in the Gebhardt home – the formal living and the casual living.  Since Sabrina is a beautiful photographer, she needed an office that would be colorful and happy and inspiring.  But because this room would do double duty for guests, it needed to be accommodating and inviting, too.   Of course, I was happy to help!  (repeat clients are my biggest compliment!)

Sabrina deemed this room “her hot mess”, and it was full of hodge podge furniture and…stuff.  (after moving two years ago, I still have a space – or two – like this, sigh)

Here are some before pics.

The room could use some love, but the dog is cute, right?


Grace edit-6092

Sabrina bought the desk super cheap off of CraigsList when they got into their new-to-them 1920’s home; mainly out of desperation for a workspace amidst the chaos of moving.  We pondered getting something different but ended up with a “is that the same desk?!” transformation.



Because this was essentially Sabrina’s space when guests were not in town, I was given permission to “girl it up” if I felt so inclined.  Carefully listening to my clients is very important to me, so I made sure I fulfilled her requirements of “pretty”, “lots of color”, and “functional”.  Of course, I needed a jumping off point, some inspiration, and I knew immediately what it was.

Designers Guild, Orangerie Rose Fabric

Designers Guild, Orangerie Rose Fabric

Ah, the ever-spectacular Designers Guild “Orangerie Rose” pattern.  I have loved this watercolor-y floral fabric for years.  It runs about $150 USD a yard so it was merely a dream.  Until…I snatched up four yards on Ebay for around $200.  I was so excited!  I saved it for just the right client, and I knew when I saw the room, and pondered Sabrina’s color story for the space, that she would love it.  Therefore, with this fabric in mind, I designed the room, and presented Sabrina with this design board.


We started from scratch with this room except for the french provincial side tables, a brass swing arm floor lamp, a mission style bench, and an old Ethan Allen wing chair.  Sabrina did a lot of the legwork on this room herself, taking the board and running with it, but I really enjoyed working out all of the details with her and styling the room.  So without further adieu,

Welcome to the Gebhardt Guest Room/Office.

I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite viewpoints of the space.   You get a little sneak peak from the hallway, and I think one just feels drawn into the room.


The gorgeous campaign dresser is a Scout Design Studio find, and we painted it in Rustoleum’s Safety Red, a high gloss orangey-red hue.

AStoriedStyle.comIt turned out pretty killer.  One of Sabrina’s main storage requests was somewhere to put all of her kraft paper boxes she uses for presentation of her client’s photos.  This long but narrow depth dresser fit the bill perfectly.  Brass hardware like this slays me.

AStoriedStyle.comWe styled it with books, sentimental wine corks, and some pretty water and glasses for guests to feel right at home.




Besides the fabric, my favorite feature of the room is this interchangeable art/photography wall.  Using vintage frames Sabrina already owned, plus a few purchased from a local salvage store, we fashioned this interesting collection by nailing large metal binder clips into the center of each frame.  It will be so easy to alter the photos and artwork as desired.


The vintage bamboo pair of chairs are one of Kristen’s Gypsy Soul Interiors finds, and we had the seats upholstered in the Orangerie fabric.  They. are. stunning.  The green and white flocked trellis pillow is from Etsy.


Sabrina says this is her favorite photo of the space, and I love it, too.


The vintage round ottoman was a CraigsList purchase.


Since the bed was in front of the pretty windows, I didn’t want to cover too much sunshine.  Therefore, I searched for an iron bed until I found this one (from Pottery Barn) at an estate sale for $150.  We sprayed it in Rustoleum’s John Deere Green.  (I’m loving that little cutie’s pjs in this photo!)


This little princess likes the bed, too.  How precious is her little dolly sleeping next to her?!


The bench at the end of the bed looked like this before.


Using some not-being-used-by-me-anymore World Market gray velvet curtains I had edged in white linen, we had it reupholstered and tufted.  How very Maria VonTrapp, ha!


The beautiful Orangerie fabric was used for long pillows for the bed and a bolster for the bench.  Yellow silk fabric was used for piping.



Are you loving the rug as much as I am?!  There is nothing like an old rug to bring a wonderful sense of age and character to a space.  Found on Ebay from this seller whom I have used many a time – I highly recommend him!  (I can hardly look at his rugs without wanting at least twelve!)


We used one of Sabrina’s french end tables she already had on one side of the bed, and placed this grasscloth one (another Gypsy Soul Interiors find) on the other side.


The lampshades were edged in pretty trim.


Sabrina had previously purchased this curvy shaped Ethan Allen chair for a great price off of CraigsList, and we had it reupholstered in this crisscross gray fabric (“Hector” from Cutting Corners).  The pillow is another Etsy find.  The curtains are linen from Ikea, edged in a yellow Greek key trim.



For printer and office supply storage, this bamboo shelving unit was purchased off of CraigsList.  I love to make useful items display nicely.



The desk turned out so great!  We painted it in Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray reduced 50% and added the dainty brass knobs.



The corkboard was purchased at Home Goods, and Sabrina painted the frame gold, and added the chevron fabric (Premier Prints) and red trim.



Light, bright, and beautiful, just what Sabrina wanted!  She sent me these thoughts about her new room, and it made me so happy!

Oh Grace. I cannot even describe how perfect my office space is. It is my new favorite room in the house. And I am so glad that it is because I spend so much time in there! Even my daughter says, “Mommy, I love your new work room”.

Before we started, this space was a complete hot mess. It was the office. The guest room. The unorganized catch-all. It was ugly, stressful and the most unproductive and unwelcoming room in our home. I spend 3-5 hours a day in my office and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to love the space. I wanted guests to love the space. I wanted to get organized. I wanted to feel good about walking into the office and not an overwhelming sense of dread.

When we started the project, I told you that I wanted color and inspiration but that it also needed to have a calming effect so that our guests would feel comfortable too. I basically gave you free reign on a lot of things and your ideas blew me away again. This room is so perfectly me in every way. I love every single thing about the space. The color. The patterns. The texture. The organization. The coziness. The drama. All of it. And most of all I love that you were able to wrap it all up into one perfect space.

Again, thank you so much for your vision and patience and creating such a wonderful space for our family to enjoy.

It is truly my pleasure to create spaces that are loved and lived in.  A big thank you to Sabrina and family!!











What is your favorite feature of this room?

If I can pull it together this weekend, I should have some of the “troubled spaces” up next week!

**many many thanks to Sabrina of Sabrina Gebhardt Photography (head over to her site and check out the GORGEOUS family and child photos on her blog) for the lovely images in this post**

Written by Grace

Progress On My Girls’ Room

My girls’ room is sloooowwwwly beginning to make some progress.  Check out the amazing monogram that will be on my girls’ headboards!  The beds are antique – I bought them on Ebay, and I think they are going to be stunning!

I also want to set up a play kitchen and dining area and a little grocery store for them.  I found this market by a ‘new to me’ toy company called Janod (pronounced j-nod) out of France.  After immediately falling in love with it, and probably spending a little too much energy searching for it, I have sadly faced the fact that no Janod retailer in the US sells it, and to get it over here from overseas would be $500+.  So it’s a no-go, but beautiful nonetheless.

Janod Grocery Market

It has been a bit easier in recent years to find toys I like, but I am rather particular about them.  Just like the spaces I design, I prefer toys to be natural, inductive of creativity, and beautiful, which typically means…not plastic.  Though I have sadly wrenched my heart from the Janod Market, I did find this one from One Step Ahead I think might work.  There is some cherry red in the curtains in that room so it will coordinate nicely, I think.  It’s also wooden so that makes me happy.  The chalkboard awning and display is pretty cute, too.

One Step Ahead Pretend Store

For the play dining area, I purchased the Pottery Barn Kids Farmhouse Table in Weathered Pine after a fruitless search for a farmhouse table made from reclaimed wood (like the one we eat on every day).  I even pondered finding a reclaimed coffee table and using that as a kids table, but I could not find one where the dimensions worked.  I suppose I could have one made, but I am sure it is $$$, and I snagged the PBK table on sale with free shipping.  I decided on the Weathered Pine color because I thought it would wear better – I think PBK’s painted finishes chip easily.  I like it, but it had such a strong smell when I got it that I was disappointed.  The finish is not as “weathered” as I would prefer either.  I don’t usually like manufactured furniture like this, but we’ll see…I may love it when I pick the chairs!

Pottery Barn Kids Farmhouse Table in Weathered Pine

Ah the chairs…of course, I like the mismatched dining table/chair look so the search has been on for awhile now.  I pondered many of these from this great post on one of my favorite blogs, Little Green Notebook.

Little Green Notebook’s post on Kids Chairs

But then I got on Restoration Hardware Baby & Child’s website (big mistake!  I LOVE their play furniture for kids!!!) and oohed and aahed for a good thirty minutes.  If I had my druthers, I would pick these.

Restoration Hardware Baby & Child’s Vintage Steel Chair

Or these.


Restoration Hardware Baby & Child’s Mini Vintage French Chair

Oh, and I would also get this dining table.  I mean…

Restoration Hardware Baby & Child’s French Extension Dining Table

If you have some spare time and love miniature versions of gorgeous furniture, you should check this link out.

A mini Chesterfield, what??!!

More to come on my girls’ room.  Have you been working on a kids room lately?

It’s The Little Things: The Smallest Houseplants You Have Ever Seen

One of my secret dreams is to be an amazing gardener with a lush, wild-looking English garden.  I will consistently wear a large sunhat with a linen tie and white linen clothes that never look dirty, even after I have been calmly gardening all day.  When someone compliments a plant in my garden, I will say things like, “Oh yes, I love when ____ plant is here in the fall, but wait until the spring when the ____ bloom”, and not bat an eye.  Oh, and I will always, always smell like lavender.

I actually learned quite a bit about gardening when I lived in Branson, Missouri.  Since I had friends with large families (10 children or more!), I spent time with them in their family gardens.  It also helps that my Dad is a licensed nurseryman (as a hobby) and is a walking encyclopedia of plants.  So I am developing my green thumb.  However, my love for gardening and planting and growing and harvesting is not restricted to the outdoors.  Especially in the Fall and Winter, I focus on keeping a garden of sorts in my home.  If you read this post, you have seen the greenery in my entryway.  My husband recently commented on how pretty some plants looked near the kitchen sink after I left them there after watering.  It got me to thinking how I could practically work plants into that area.

Knowing I needed the counter space to be free since that is such a heavy work area, my only option was the tiny window sill.  Instantly, I remembered something I had seen in one of my favorite booths called “diGs” at one of the local antique malls.  (Montgomery Street for you readers from DFW)  Aren’t these tiny little pots darling?  They are literally three inches tall and have that perfectly aged look.

When I first saw these little pots, I wondered what I could do with them because surely, plants that small are not sold anywhere.  Well, I was wrong.  A quick trip to Archie’s Gardenland in Fort Worth revealed a plethora of varied fens in tiny pots.  They were around $3 each.  Side Note:  If you have to have some of your own lilliputian plants after reading this, and are not sure where to find them, I would check with your local, generally smaller and more specialized nurseries.  (i.e. not Walmart, Lowes, etc.)  Call around and ask before you take any long trips.  These little guys would be great for terrariums, too!

After selecting ten ferns that would be happy in my window, I tackled my next problem – the fact these little pots had no drain hole in the bottom.  I pondered what to do and ended up ever so lightly puncturing the bottom of them with a large nail.

I did have one casualty though.  Bummer.  I will have to go back and grab one more.  Hope they’re still there!

Then the planting could begin!

I had a cute little four-year-old using a measuring cup to water our freshly planted ferns.

My next thought was…”Hmmm, okay, what should I have the pot with the newly punctured hole drain into?”  As much as I would love to find a charming little set of old dishes, I knew I wanted to get my project done, and I liked the idea of the old pots paired with something more modern. Maybe someday I will find just the right set of old dishes, and maybe I will switch them out.

I headed to World Market – I find stores with a global aspect always have interesting little things that work for projects like this – and quickly found my solution.

These square mini tasting plates fit the bill perfectly.  Although on the site there is a set of four for $11.96, in-store they were .99 each, plus I had a 10% off coupon!  Boom!

I couldn’t help but share some of the other items in their “mini tasting” collection that would be adorable for a variety of uses, but would be especially cute as planters for tiny ferns.  All you would have to do is buy a drill bit that will work on ceramic, drill yourself a tiny hole, and voila! You have an interesting outside-the-box planter.

You could write the name of each fern on these, so cute!

A bit more modern look found here.

I think these mini tureens as planters would be so fab!

I almost changed my entire plan when I saw this little mug set.  How cute and different would these be as mini planters?!

While shopping at Crate & Barrel for a client last week, I saw the Brooklyn long vase which I think would also make a pretty holder for plants on a window sill or a narrow space.

Before my big “tiny” reveal, I thought I would share some useful information about houseplants.  Not only are they pretty, they are physically and mentally beneficial.  Really!  Which is exactly why I am not a fan of faux greenery in a home.  Faux houseplants are dust collectors – if you have allergies or asthma, this is bad news.  Plus the pretend plants will not have these benefits:

1.  Indoor plants have been shown to reduce cold-related illnesses by more than 30% due to their increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust.

2.  We breathe the same air in our homes again and again, potentially inhaling harmful substances that are trapped inside. Indoor plants can help to remove pollutants including VOC’s that cause headaches, nausea, and more.

3. House plants can contribute to a feeling of wellbeing, making you calmer and more optimistic. Studies have shown that patients who face a garden view in their hospital rooms often recover more quickly than those facing a wall.  Even plants in the room make a difference!  Patients request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.

4. Exposing children to allergens such as plants early in life can help them build a tolerance and immunity to the allergen. It works like a custom allergy shot, naturally.

With that in mind, say hello to my new health booster by the kitchen sink.

They make me happy every time I see them.

Do you have any house plants?

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