Anne-Claire and John’s Internationally Inspired Mix

updated Aug 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Name: Anne-Claire, John (not pictured), and daughter, Anna
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Size: 2,400 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

We were first introduced to Anne-Claire in a house call; when I tracked her down after seeing it, she was delighted to share the full tour. Anne-Claire is from France, her husband, John, from South Africa, and they had their now 3-year-old daughter, Anna, in Dallas, where they lived before moving to the Washington suburbs last year.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

They’ve made their current home with furniture and styles that they absorbed along the way. In less careful hands, you can imagine all of the things, decor-wise, that might have gone wrong (Paris with a big Texas twist? Très très… eek). But here, it feels right: paintings and French flea market finds from Anne-Claire’s youth and early-20s live contentedly with an orange metal bull that the couple acquired in Dallas; locally Craigslisted furniture is accented with Anna’s colorful games and books and toys that somehow only add to the joyous, colorful mix.

It works, I suspect, because of Anne-Claire’s easygoing, light touch: she’s thrifty (most everything you see is from Craigslist or yard sales), she’s patient (see “Best Advice”), and, despite having been initially not-psyched about moving into a 1960s split-level in the suburbs, she’s furnished the space with objects and finishes that inspire her. The results have made this house feel, after the family’s many moves, a lot more like home.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, thrifty.

Inspiration: I love to browse websites like Apartment Therapy for ideas, but in general, it’s the objects and furniture I thrift here and there that inspire me. I rearrange everything until I find a combination that works.

Favorite Element: The living room, with the wall of windows looking at the backyard, the skylights, the giant poster. It’s a room that is both very bright and very cozy at the same time.

Biggest Challenge: We love the concept of the split-level, because it feels like everything is close, just a few steps away, but on the other hand, it can get a little noisy. You can easily hear what’s going on in the living room when you’re in the bedrooms. Probably more than if it was two different “full” levels.

What Friends Say: They love the house, they find it welcoming and warm. And sometimes, they ask for advice for their own home.

Biggest Embarrassment: Vinyl! Most windows are vinyl, the siding is vinyl… it was like that when we bought the house and it was a pretty recent and efficient addition, so, I guess we’re going to have to live with it!

Proudest DIY: The painted floors in the mudroom. It used to be tiles that we didn’t like. We had them replaced by hardwood in the entryway and the kitchen, but we didn’t want to spend the money on the mudroom. So, I just used some paint and a stencil, and the result is so cute!

Biggest Indulgence: I buy everything secondhand, in thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. So I would say that the only and therefore biggest indulgence was the house itself. We needed a specific location, close to John’s work, with good schools, and after living in Texas where you can get a mansion for the same price, it felt expensive!

Best Advice: Live in the place for a few months, or even a whole year, before making major changes. When we bought the house, we were planning to open the kitchen more and to add a garage, but after awhile we realized that we like the layout as it is, and that having a garage wouldn’t change our life as much as the hassle of building one.

Dream Sources: French flea markets… I miss them. I still visit them when I go there on vacation but, unfortunately, I can’t bring much back in my luggage!


(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Kitchen – Behr match for Glidden Caribbean Sea
  • Living room – Behr Tanglewood
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Shelves – DIY
  • Metal cow – bought in Dallas, but made in Mexico
  • Coffee table – DIY
  • Antique side table – inherited from my great uncle (I cut the legs and painted them white)
  • Rug – Turkish Kilim Store on eBay
  • Floor lamp – Ikea
  • Table lamps – French flea markets and American thrift stores
  • Bamboo chairs – Pier 1 Imports, found on eBay
  • Framed poster – Cycles Perfecta by Alphonse Mucha, bought in the Dallas Museum of Art during the exhibition “Posters of Paris
  • Giant poster – Les Machines de l’Île in Nantes, France
  • Sofa – Ikea (I changed the legs for shorter ones)
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Table – old Ikea, painted
  • Chairs – French flea markets
  • High chair – Craigslist in Dallas, brand Baby Dan
  • Buffet – Craigslist in Dallas
  • Lamp on buffet – French flea market
  • Dish on table – Jars Céramistes
  • Pendant light – World Market
  • Painting and pottery – French artist Jacques Piquery
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Shelves – Ikea, ages ago
  • Hanging baskets – Ikea, ages ago
  • Bar stools – Craigslist in D.C.
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Poster behind bed – Les Machines de l’Île in Nantes, France
  • Bamboo chair – Craigslist in D.C.
  • Coat rack and mirror – French flea markets
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Bed – Ikea hack
  • Rug – Ikea
  • Table and chairs – Craigslist in Dallas
  • Corner shelves – DIY
  • Easel – Ikea
  • Dresser – Craigslist in Dallas
  • Star light – Ikea
  • Pennant banner – DIY
  • Peacock collage – DIY
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Shelves – DIY
  • Cow skull – bought in Dallas, but comes from New Mexico
  • Toys – French flea markets, eBay, etc.
  • String LED lights – Ikea

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Thanks, Anne-Claire and John!