Calming, elegant and the ideal foil for more colourful furniture and accessories, greys have long been a go-to backdrop for many designers and architects. But in Arnaud Masson’s Brussels-based home, dark, dramatic shades and a wealth of contrasting textures take this hue to an exciting new level. Natural materials, simplicity and wellbeing are at the root of this property’s grey interior.
‘I was tired of modern design and perfect objects,’ says Arnaud. ‘My aim was to get rid of non-essentials, to find something more modest. I wanted to explore a way to reveal the beauty of imperfect things.’ With this in mind, Arnaud worked with architectural firm K2A to devise a design that would completely avoid the use of synthetic materials. ‘We used clay, wood, steel and tadelakt, all of which have unique colours that reflect the hues of the earth: monochrome and minimalist, dark, simple and without any pretension. I love the energy that they create, and the feeling of wellness that brings.’
Located in the lively and sought-after district of Châtelain in Brussels, this property was once two terraced houses, which Arnaud, the head of real estate company Permis de Construire, bought three years ago. Collaborating with K2A, he worked hard to fuse the adjacent buildings, while still maintaining respect for the traditional architecture. ‘The original houses were tall and narrow,’ he says. ‘We used the entire space, creating a six-storey, 750-square-metre home with four large bedrooms, two offices and a very spacious living area that includes a kitchen, dining room, lounge and bar.’
‘Homes naturally tend to deteriorate, but, with this project, we wanted to create a space that gets more beautiful as time passes,’ says Arnaud. ‘The house has a very primitive feel.’ Its walls are coated in dark pigmented clay that has been fed with linseed oil and installed by Brussels- based firm Odilon Creations.
The lower floors and staircases are crafted from Pastellone, a natural product made with lime and marble powder, while Moroccan tadelakt plaster is used to create the work surfaces in the kitchen and bar area. More tadelakt features in the bathroom, where it has been used to mould the washbasins and a generous freestanding bathtub.
Upstairs, the floors are made of smooth smoked oak, as is the joinery throughout the home, designed by Arnaud and architecture firm K2A and made to measure by Belgian carpentry company Recob. ‘The idea was to use a limited palette of materials and to create an energy from their strength,’ says Arnaud
Much of the furniture is bespoke and fitted to the space, which helps to create a seamless, uncluttered look. The curtains and upholstery all feature a tasteful mixture of smooth and slubby linens in neutral shades. The same casual colour scheme is used for the ‘Ghost’ sofa and dining chairs by Paola Navone for Gervasoni. ‘We wanted everything to look informal, elegant and relaxed,’ explains Arnaud.
In the main bedroom, custom- made architectural wall panelling has been painted black, and within it sits an integrated headboard covered in grey linen. The guest bedroom has a cocoon- like feel, thanks to the grey linen panelling lining the walls, the softness of which creates a pleasing contrast with the concrete pendant lamps and bedside tables. Art also features in many of the rooms. ‘I source pieces from Paris and London,’ says Arnaud. ‘I especially like street art – it’s imperfect and authentic, so it fits in with the spirit of this house.’ k2a.be
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration February 2018
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