Lucy Folk is a long way from home.
"When I arrived with my suitcases from Australia, I was excited — but a little overwhelmed," admits the accessories designer, miles away from the sandy dunes of Bondi Beach.
Folk did what many young people might aspire to but few rarely execute. She boxed up her life, farewelled her friends and family, and flew some 10,532 miles away from sunny Sydney. It's here, in Paris — a mere three minute walk from Place des Vosges — where you'll find the designer residing these days.
Unbeknown to most, Folk signed the lease on her expansive three-bedroom, 2152-square-foot Parisian apartment without ever laying eyes on the place. "It actually belongs to a friend of mine," Folk explains. "I agreed to rent the space — unfurnished — for six months. I'd only ever seen pictures."
Situated down a sleepy lane only moments away from one of the city's most popular tourist spots, Folk's home is cleverly concealed, shrouded in equal parts flora, fauna, and mystery. Follow your nose up the grandiose staircase and soaring ceilings, ornate balconies, and floor-to-ceiling murals do their best to take your breath away.
Dating back to 1670 and designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart — renowned for his work as chief architect to Louis XIV — Folk's new address oozes charm while serving as a little slice of French history. To make the space feel like her own, Folk added custom drapes and soft furnishings, French flea market finds, and one-of-a-kind investment pieces.
As a designer, Folk works mostly from home. Soaking up her new surrounds like a creative sponge. At dawn, she's routinely rolling out her yoga mat, imbibing a cup of tea, and enjoying the peace and quiet before responding to a flurry of early morning emails. The designer is inspired by every inch of this place — the decorative rooms help inform her accessories line, that's stocked everywhere from Net-A-Porter to Garmentory — and it's not hard to see why.
"I need to be inspired by my home," the designer emphatically explains. "It’s a place to think creatively. Working from home, I need to be surrounded by things I love; color, books, flowers — the list goes on." During our shoot, Folk's apartment is doubling as a showroom for her Resort 2020 Collection, Earth Wind Fire Water. Plinths of gold jewelry sit on display throughout the living room, alongside beaded handbags and vintage-inspired sunglasses.
"This was one of our best sellers," Folk says, of her Cocoloko Cocktail Clutch, delicately draping over the doorknob. "My favorite room is definitely the salon. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. Being on the balcony and overlooking that beautiful garden below. What I like best about this room is the light, I'll open the windows to the balcony when I first wake up and let the sunshine pour in."
Good light — like good bones — can be hard to fake. And Folk's abode has both, in spades. Rooms with fancy names like "parlor" and "salon" melt seamlessly into the next, each evoking opulence and grandeur.
"The art on the walls is all hand-painted," Folk explains of the murals throughout the living spaces. "The paint restorer says they're not as old as the building, maybe 19th century? Although the painting above the mirror — the pastoral scene — that is an original. They weren’t able to do any chemical tests, so they can't give me an exact date."
In the dining room, Folk's favorite splurge holds pride of place — a vintage Carlo Scarpa travertine dining table — the pièce de résistance, surrounded by alternating Marcel Breuer S32 cane dining chairs in black and white. There's a whimsical quality to the apartment that has Folk written all over it, a stylish restraint and mid-century charm that you can't help but warm to. Don't be fooled by the decorative surrounds though — Folk makes full use of her beautiful things.
"I am fond of quite a few pieces," the designer says. "I adore the dining table that my friend and interior designer Tamsin Johnson bought for me in Palma. Carlo Scarpa was influenced by Japanese and Venetian culture, but it's his use of materials and knowledge of the landscape that resonate with me most. He honors craftsmanship and traditional processes in a modern and refreshing way — when it comes to my own design, I try to do the same."
Sitting on blond oak floors is a sunshine yellow sofa collected at Salone del Mobile in Milan last year. Soft to the touch, it's instantly inviting, leaning casually against Folk's lilac-splashed walls. "It's turmeric, and it's my favorite color," the designer says. "I am going through a strong yellow phase at the moment." Oversized custom pillows by Marrakshi Life add to the ultimately cozy look and feel.
"My neighborhood is quiet, but it's only a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of Place de la Bastille," explains Folk. "My home is very private, it's hidden from the streets, and I like that everyone keeps to themselves. There is an organic supermarket close by, a great wine store, and some lovely restaurants. Bastille Market is great, too."
Opting for peace and quiet above all else, Folk brings the color and vibrancy of Paris home with her, decorating the leafy balcony with bistro-style furniture. "I found my chairs at Grock Café on Boulevard Beaumarchais," she explains. "They supply most hotels, restaurants, and cafés. I purchased them while out with a group of friends and we walked all the way home with them."
In the kitchen, Folk's space echoes her own accessories line. A brave splash of chili red contributes to the cool-girl appeal — "I've grown to love the color," the designer admits — while clean and simple open shelving and classic tiles stray from the decorative approach throughout.
Folk's penchant for pastels and muted macaron-tones ease your eye into the master bedroom. Soft drapes rendered in shades of blush pink and mint green cotton surround the floor-to-ceiling French windows, completing the ultra feminine look and feel. "The drapes were made by Marrakshi Life, by the very talented and creative Randall Bachner, the same atelier who makes our apparel," Folk adds.
Two vintage rattan ottomans — sourced via Marche Paul Bert Serpette — alternate between the designer's bedroom and living spaces, while hand-painted hats, decorative plates, and papier-mâché vases decorate the shelves. Vintage '70s bedside lamps by Harvey Guzzini and Venini sit either side of Folk's bed, while a reupholstered armchair — picked up during a trip to Marrakesh — bathes in sunlight.
"I read a lot, I collect a lot," Folk says. "The vases are from Merci in Paris, while the smaller objects in my bedroom are by Den Holm — an Australian designer that makes all kinds of different objects. Coffee tables, chairs, pots. He kindly made me some small statues for my jewels and for my boutique, PLAYA in Sydney. I came across the painting in Brocante in Bastille."
Adorned with gifts from friends and collaborators both near and far, vintage pieces she's collected herself, and campaign imagery-turned-artwork from her own line, Folk's home away from home is styled with confidence and continuity. But when it comes to comparing her new life in Paris to home back in Sydney — the designer's heart is set on both.
"I miss the air, the water, the beach — and my family," Folk says of her life back in Australia.
"You just can't compare the two. I live by the beach in Bondi, in a very small apartment. What you can compare, I suppose, is the charm, both places have the most beautiful light. In Paris, there's the high ceilings, the French windows, the privacy — it's unique. There's space around the apartment. It’s in the most beautiful sanctuary in the heart of the city."
As for the designer's words of wisdom for those looking to follow suit and make the move to Paris? It's always a good idea.
"Learn how to liaise with a plumber in French," Folk adds, rather pragmatically. "This will help you significantly."