Modern Home Furnished With Flea Market Finds

By Stephen Heyman / Photos by Simon Upton
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.

During the Belle Époque, the resort city of Royan, in southwest France, was a magnet for the high-society set. Blown to smithereens during World War II, the town was rebuilt in the 1950s by a clutch of high-minded architects from the nearby Bordeaux architecture school who were under the spell of Brazilian modernists like Oscar Niemeyer. They brought to the buildings curves, abstract forms, and reinforced concrete, scandalizing the conservative Royannais and alienating longtime visitors. The retooled town quickly sunk into a scruffy postwar obscurity and has only recently reemerged as a modishly offbeat spot to own a beach house. 

In the renovation of a 1950s building in Royan, France, interior designer Florence Deau selected a fleet of vintage and new furnishings.

In the renovation of a 1950s building in Royan, France, interior designer Florence Deau selected a fleet of vintage and new furnishings.

That’s where Florence Deau comes in. She has channeled Royan’s midcentury heritage and her own sharp eye for contemporary design into an influential blog, Flodeau, and an in-demand interior design practice. She is now at work transforming one of Royan’s emblematic modernist buildings, the former city planning office, built by the architect Yves Salier in 1952. It is an impressive showcase for any designer: sleek, white, concrete, with a glass curtain facade that curves along with the shape of the street and a vast balcony to take in the seascape. Deau has created a swank little wine bar on the ground floor and, on the top floor, a three-bedroom vacation apartment for a local wine merchant that’s a tribute to the ambience and history of Royan itself. 

Join the Daily Dose Mailing List

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design

The dining table is from French retailer AM.PM., the pendants are by Him + Her, and the shelves are by Tomado Holland. An Ikea rug echoes the geometric motif found throughout the apartment.

The dining table is from French retailer AM.PM., the pendants are by Him + Her, and the shelves are by Tomado Holland. An Ikea rug echoes the geometric motif found throughout the apartment.

"It had to be inspired by the 1950s, it had to be fun—not too crazy—and it had to have a soul," Deau says. The design touches are eclectic, from textiles festooned with tropical patterns to Slim Aarons’s pool party photographs. "We’re not in California," Deau says. "But summertime here can feel a bit like California." 

Deau retained original details, like the stone fireplace in the living area and the Jean Prouvé lamp mounted onto it. Vibrant throw pillows by Nathalie Du Pasquier for Hay offset the neutral sofa and armchairs from Habitat and the Moroccan rug. Vintage English occasional and coffee tables stand at the room’s center. Ceramics and objects from Guillaume Bardet, Jonathan Adler, and Ferm Living accent the space.

Deau retained original details, like the stone fireplace in the living area and the Jean Prouvé lamp mounted onto it. Vibrant throw pillows by Nathalie Du Pasquier for Hay offset the neutral sofa and armchairs from Habitat and the Moroccan rug. Vintage English occasional and coffee tables stand at the room’s center. Ceramics and objects from Guillaume Bardet, Jonathan Adler, and Ferm Living accent the space.


The Basics series radiator by Italian manufacturer Tubes doubles as a towel rack in the bathroom. Deau purchased the cabinet and mirror from Ikea and she found the stool at a flea market.

The Basics series radiator by Italian manufacturer Tubes doubles as a towel rack in the bathroom. Deau purchased the cabinet and mirror from Ikea and she found the stool at a flea market.

Deau retained certain original elements in the 1,300-square-foot space, like the minimalist wood doors—made of sapelli, a reddish African wood popular in France in the 1950s—and the linear limestone fireplace. She gutted others, like the linoleum flooring and, to improve circulation, a wall separating the kitchen from the living area. The space was uninhabited for 20 years before she discovered it—dirty, abandoned, with big cracks in the ceiling and, Deau says, "lots of potential!"