For as big of a place as Instagram is, it can sometimes feel really small. Of course, what you see is all about who you choose to follow and how you interact with them (dear Instagram gods, please return to chronological order). I know that, but images can spread faster than juicy gossip in a small town. Which is what brings me here today. Well, first we have to rewind to last year around this time. It’s right around when I started following Erin Francois of Francois et Moi on social. The impetus? Images of her home all decked out for the holidays. There was something about the drapey natural garland over the archway to her living room that SHOOK me. I saved it (wait…maybe I screen-grabbed it because I can’t remember when Instagram started letting you bookmark things), and referred back to it often when I wanted to feel bad about myself smile.
And then it started happening: EVERYONE was re-sharing Erin’s home. Her perfectly sparse Fraser fir (what she referred to as “Charlie Brown-esque”) felt like the most popular girl in school…everyone was talking about it/wanted to be it/couldn’t stop staring at it (well, the tree and the room it was in, in general). Nearly every “shelter” account I followed did a re-share, or at least it felt that way.
Fast forward to fall 2018. Emily and I were chatting (texting?) about who we wanted to reach out to for potential house tours because you guys seemed pretty pumped about the recent ones we’ve done and she sent me some snapshots of Erin’s home she saw on her Instagram. I basically jumped through the phone and screamed “I LOVE FRANCOIS ET MOI. YES LET’S DO HER HOUSE.” I really hadn’t seen much of her house since last Christmas, and my inner decor voyeur wanted to do an Orlando Soria-style horizontal head peek through her front door. A “house tour” was a perfect excuse to see more.
Once I simmered down (sorry, Emily), I connected with Erin who was equally pumped to photograph and share her home with the EHD universe of readers.
If the mudroom-ish area above doesn’t fill your heart with warmth, then you’re likely dead inside and there’s no helping you. But if it tickles your soul like it did mine, then keep reading. I’m going to let Erin take it from here—we like to let people walk you through their own homes. Erin, meet the EHD readers, EHD readers, meet Erin…
Hi EHD World. I’m Erin Francois. My background is in commercial interior design but when I made the transition to sales rep for a fabric and wallcovering trade showroom, I started my blog as an unrestrained creative outlet. What started as an everything-that-inspires-me blog made the turn into home DIY and styling when my husband and I purchased our first home (a duplex) three years ago.
While house-hunting way back when, my husband, Ken, and I looked at this 1936 duplex on a whim, and were excited by the financial sense and renovation possibilities the property had. (We live on the main floor and lease out the upstairs 1 bed/1 den.)
Ken and I both appreciate the charm and quality craftsmanship of older homes, and we especially fell in love with the first floor’s plaster arch that separates the living and dining areas (you can see that below).
The duplex had been well-maintained over the years, but every single wall was painted beige, and it needed modernizing. Over the past three years, we’ve been renovating it room by room. We’re chipping away at this old lady slowly, and our end game is to bring the home into the 21st century to fit our modern lifestyle, while preserving the original charm. If I had to describe my style in a word, it would be “collected.” The bones of our house are Tudor, so I love complementing the more traditional architecture with meaningful pieces from different eras and styles (I’m really inspired by Nordic, early American, mid-century and Parisian Deco…uffda, what a crazy mix!). Because I do intermingle styles so freely, I try to stick to a unified color palette to help connect the dots.
Okay, now that maybe you have a little better sense about me and my home, let’s get to talking about these rooms!
Here she is: our family living room. Because we don’t have a secondary hangout space, our living room functions more like a family room. It’s where we play and watch movies as a family, but it’s also the first room you step into from the foyer. So my challenge in here was to make sure this room was equally practical (i.e. kid-friendly) and stylish, meaning:
The sofa is upholstered in a stain-resistant, durable fabric
The leather ottoman provides a wipeable surface at a great height for our daughter, Sylvia, to play.
A round coffee table (which was a DIY) means no sharp corners.
The vintage Persian rug is really forgiving when it comes to cleaning up spills. It’s actually one of my favorite decor pieces we own. I purchased it in my early 20s, and it was a total splurge at the time, but I’m so glad I went for it as I still love it all these years later.
Toys are stored in baskets in the media cabinet which is located to the right of the plaster arch. Because this room wears so many hats, I try to keep decor somewhat paired back (and multi-functional) in an effort to curb the clutter. For example, we store Legos in the rattan basket underneath the console.
We don’t really have a kitchen with an “eat in” layout, so we eat everyday meals in our dining room (unlike many formal dining rooms!). Our dining table (by Duncan Phyfe) was handed down from my great aunt. It’s not heirloom quality, but meaningful in that it’s a family piece. It’s a great small-ish size for the room with a removable leaf for when we entertain. To keep things feeling a little casual against such a formal table, we built the dining bench with a slab of walnut and a pair of iron legs found on Etsy. Also, before we got out hands on it, the dining light fixture wasn’t originally centered in the room, so we moved that and added a ceiling medallion (this made the move SUPER easy because we didn’t have to patch and refinish the entire ceiling).
Three identical short bookcases (from Target) grouped along the right wall of the dining room create the illusion of custom built-ins and provide a home for our book collection, a little home bar and vintage decor and art.
This is our back hall, which was bare, beige and totally lacking in storage, so I focused on maximizing the vertical wall space (which was really all the space we had back here) with a DIY Shaker-style peg rail atop wainscoting. This gave us a spot to hang outdoor gear (but for the shoot, we made it all pretty…it doesn’t normally have dried greenery and draping fabric, ha).
The kitchens were the first spaces we renovated when we bought the duplex. They both were original 1930s kitchens and each had one electrical outlet, no dishwasher and plastic hammered tin-style backsplashes that were double-side-taped to the wall. Aside from the electrical and plumbing work, my husband, Ken, and I renovated nearly everything together to help it function better and fit our personal style, from swapping out the cabinetry to adding insulation to the walls to tiling the backsplash to planking the ceiling. One of my favorite elements in the first-floor kitchen (our kitchen, shown here) is the slatted sink doors we retrofitted from the original cabinetry, painting them to match the new cabinetry and updating the hardware.
Something that was unique to us as duplex owners was that we salvaged and reconfigured the original first-floor kitchen cabinets by installing them in the upstairs rental unit, which was in need of additional cabinetry and counter space. This helped us save on our bottom line as well as kept them from ending up in the landfill.
The wallpaper (Hygge & West’s Nethercote) was the jumping off point for Sylvie’s room. I wanted the room to feel imaginative, and the paper’s folkloric pattern is like a Nordic storybook enveloping the room.
We had to deal with some ice dam issues in this room when we moved in, so we opened up the wall where the crib is located and addressed the water damage before wallpapering, adding board and batten on the lower half of the walls and bead-boarding the ceiling.
This is where my blog magic happens. The bins on the top shelf and the adjacent closet hide my overflowing fabric stash, styling accessories and craft supplies while the opposite wall from the desk is completely blank for photographing projects, and we’ve installed a murphy bed at the far side of the room for when guests come to stay.
Our bedroom is the one room in the house where we chose a deeper paint color. Since we don’t spend a lot of time in here beyond sleeping, I felt brave enough to go bolder on the walls (we went with Behr’s Brooklyn). This room really came together on a budget with finds like the $50 iron bed from Craigslist, the $25 clip-on IKEA sconce and the $13 Matisse art printables from Etsy.
Arlyn here again. Just wanted to wrap up this post by giving a big heartful THANK YOU to Erin for sharing her home with us today. I’m definitely adding that master bedroom paint color to my short list of colors I’m considering for my dining room makeover…Be sure to let us (and Erin) know how much you love her home and if you like these types of posts because we’d love to do more. Showcasing the great (and hard) work of others in this design/digital community is something we really enjoy, so if you ALSO love it, then we want to know that!
And because you’re likely back at work today but, let’s get real, not doing much work, may we suggest a few more house tours to dive into while you’re avoiding that post-holiday to-do list?