When you first walk into Alexandra and Nicolas Valla’s Mansard-roofed home in Rambouillet, France their combined talent and creative eye is abundantly clear. Featured in the Rockett St George book, Extraordinary Interiors, Alexandra and Nicolas’ have their own interior designs business: Royal Roulotte and together create show-stopping interiors. Alexandra and Nicolas undertook a renovation challenge with their home as it had been divided into six apartments in the 1980s and had been uninhabited for several years before the couple moved in. With careful consideration, time and a whole lot of talent Alexandra and Nicolas have created an interiors masterpiece.
The Favourite Things Pendant light is filled with family memories and treasured pieces such as Alexandra and Nicolas’ children’s toys. Jane and Lucy loved this idea so much that they sourced the Pendant Lights for RSG. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
A family home first they have remained faithful to their personal style with quirky and characterful pieces mixed in such as lampshades filled with wooden toys and vintage doors leaning against the walls. So to find out a little more about the couple, their work and their favourite RSG pieces we have sat down with them in our latest #10MinsWith interview…
The dark walls contrast beautifully with the patterned floor tiles. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
1. You are a match made interiors heaven. Not only are the two of you founders of the interior design company, Royal Roulotte, but you are also married with two children. Tell us about your first meeting?
We met in 1997 at Creapole design school in Paris. We worked on design projects together and we fell in love. We’ve been living together for 20 years… a beautiful story.
2. How would you describe Royal Roulotte to someone who has only just discovered your company?
Royal Roulotte is an office of decoration and interior design based near Paris. We advise our clients on decoration (objects, furniture, painting, subjects, design) and on the development of areas (circulations, creations of new rooms, optimisation, light, functionality, furniture on-measure). We work with a particular attention to details and the will to create an ideal atmosphere in keeping with the way of life of our clients. The Royal Roulotte office was born after 10 years of discoveries, experiments, meetings and the personal way of life of our clients always closely linked to decoration and to the development of interiors.
Vintage doors collected from flea markets and travels can be found throughout Alexandra and Nicolas’ home leant against the walls. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
3. You work together, but how does your personal style differ?
Nicolas is the Royal part of the duo (design, art, on-measure) whilst Alexandra is Roulotte (miscellany, bric à brac trade, colors). This meeting defines our world. The simplicity of a raw wood, the purity of classic design, the charm of an old patterned piece of furniture, a flower textile, the vintage pace of a Scandinavian piece; we want to blend all that but especially, we want to share it and to make them meet. In short, Folk & Chic Style.
Pendant Lights filled with toys hang above the family’s dining room table. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
4. When designing a new home for your clients what is the first thing you do or plan to ensure that the home remains faithful to your client’s unique sense of style?
The first thing we do is discuss with our client, and listen to what their needs and desires from his/her home. Our work always begins by finding a decoration object or a furniture which can match with the project. We catch this thread and we work then on plans and redevelopment of the space and then on style and decoration.
The couples home office as featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
5. Your home is featured in the Rockett St George Book: Extraordinary interiors. What three words would you use to describe your family home?
A home with a history, a warm atmosphere, an eclectic mix.
6. You live in a beautiful Mansard-roofed house in Rambouillet, France. Your home was uninhabited for a few years. How did you reform your home to create the beautiful family home that it is today?
The home was divided into six flats in the eighties and was deserted for some years and so the mansard style home had lost its original charm. We rethought the space using decor and design inspiration of the home at its time of origin. We adapted and developed this to our family’s lifestyle such as opening the kitchen up onto the dining room. We recovered the central staircase which on every floor opens on to a big corridor. We painted it in taupe giving access to the white rooms and bathrooms.We wanted to play with colors in a very clearcut way that would look modern and contrast with the chevron wood floor, moldings and cast iron radiators. We mostly keep the size of the room for more intimacy and to keep the story of the house.
The white painted legs is a characterful and eye-catching feature. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
7. You designed Quentin Leroux’s home which is also featured in Extraordinary Interiors. What was the vision behind your design?
Quentin & Sabrina’s flat was rethought entirely, it had not been renovated for thirty years and so we changed the disposition of the kitchen so that it was facing the living room and so to include two new bathrooms annexed to the rooms of children. It was a huge pleasure to work with them, they are humanly brilliant and let us have total freedom with the design and the development of this hausmannien flat of 200m2.
8. Give us three top tips for creating a beautiful home?
Soft light, contrasting color and a mix of vintage furniture and design pieces.
A beautiful vintage bird cage with faux birds hang up high in the family room. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
9. What’s next for Royal Roulotte?
One of our dreams is to create our own brand, decorative objects and furnitures for the home of course.
As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
10. Finally, name three new RSG products that you love?
Eco Wallpaper – Nackros £40.00 Brass & Smoke Glass Table Light £195.00 Genuine Sheepskin Rug – Silky Dark Grey £59.00
Quick fire questions
1.I am happiest when…
Nicolas: I am happiest when I am with my family.
Alexandra: I am happiest when I am drawing.
2.My favourite magazine is…
Nicolas: my favourite magazine is Kinfolk
Alexandra: my favourite magazine is Marie Claire Maison
3. Our dream holiday would be… a road trip in Uruguay.
4. Our ideal day would be spent… discovering an unknown city. (buenos aires could be perfect 😉
5. My personal motto is…
Nicolas: “You don’t always need a plan, sometimes you just need boldness”.
Alexandra: A sentence of Anna Freud: “the creative minds always survive in mistreatment”.
6. My guilty pleasure is…
Nicolas: Chocolate cakes.
7. The last film we saw was… the Wes Anderson entire filmography… a great visual universe and crazy stories… all that we love.
8. My favourite book is…
Nicolas: Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca
Alexandra: Big Magic by Elisabeth Gilbert
9. In five years’ time, we want to be… still having fun.
10. The three things I can’t live without are…
Nicolas: my family, music and chocolate.
Alexandra: my family, sea, notebook and pen.