Interior insider: Jocelyne Sibuet, luxury hotelier

Jocelyne Sibuet is France’s ultimate interior designer. Dubbed the French Martha Stewart, Sibuet is co-founder of (the super chic) Sibuet Hotels & Spa Group and author of A French Country Home: Style and Entertaining. She searches far and wide to kit out her hotels, chalets, restaurants and spas in the French Alps, Paris, Lyon and in the South of France. Here, she talks inspiration, favorite hotels and decorating mistakes with Annie Deakin.

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The Independent Online

Interior design is just like… writing: once you have found the guiding principle, a décor is telling a story.

My design philosophy is… you have to take risks when decorating to create a particular ambience.

I like to start from… a style I do not yet know which forces me to improve myself and renew my researches.  

The most unusual interior I have created is… maybe the next signature suites I am creating at the moment for the Hotel Mont-Blanc in Megève. They have a vintage spirit that is unusual for me and different from the other hotels. It is based on Cocteau’s very artistic style. 

I would advise a beginner interior designer to… respect rules on simple subjects: material unity and colour unity. It seems basic but it is crucial. For me, interior must be personal but it must have consistency, whatever the chosen style.

The most common decorating mistake is… a place where you feel you are a visitor or do not feel good.

Some interior designers have… a very strong style and do not necessarily renew according to their projects. Recently I loved an exhibition at Artcurial Paris.

For inspiration, I look to… the French magazine AS for its elitism and ELLE Décoration for its association with both modernity and tradition.

Interiors that are too contemporary are often… style exercises. 

For me, the most successful interiors have… a real personality, are warm and comfortable. I dislike places that are too cold and where you feel like you’re a visitor.

As for colours, I like… basic tones associated with strong shades, like a deep mauve with green.

I very much like the spirit of… the 18th century, and also the 40’s or 60’s. However I do not like the 30’s. Style is ever changing.

My biggest design challenges are… creating a full hotel decoration in six months. This is often the case in our construction sites.

One of my favourite hotels is… the Carlyle Hotel in New York because it has a soul. It is an extremely elegant, mythical hotel with history and a personality.

I do not necessarily want high luxury; I want… an authentic and exceptional experience from a hotel. It could be a hotel without electricity on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For me, the Kia Ora Sauvage or the Siwa Oasis in Egypt are the height of a rare and authentic luxury.

The key difference between decorating a home or hotel is… the practical side. Our hotel guests are not always careful users and it’s crucial to keep the place in good condition.

A must-go city for buying furniture and art is… Paris. I particularly recommend the Maisons & Objets fair that takes place twice a year, and also the Milan Furniture Fair in April.

For old furniture, I shop at… the big professional markets in Avignon and Montpelier in the South of France.

My dream project would be… to decorate a very exotic hotel on a desert island or in a country with an exceptional craft industry.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for the mydecomarketplace, an online shopping experience where you can search hundreds of home furnishings and accessories all in one place.