As the creative geniuses behind the cult-fave furniture line Casamidy, Anne-Marie Midy and Jorge Almada are known for their chic, off-kilter sensibility. Their new family home on the outskirts of Brussels gave Midy the chance to apply her signature design chops in a deeply personal way.
One day a few years ago, as another European dusk descended on a murky Belgian afternoon, Anne-Marie Midy’s toddler, Olivier, turned to her and asked a pointed question that brought the family’s recent move to Brussels into focus for his mother. “Why is it so dark here?” he asked plaintively, identifying in the space of that one question the gulf between the sun-baked world they’d left behind in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the moody digs they’d adopted. Gone were the cobblestone plazas where the shouts of the roving knife sharpener competed with the elote vendor; gone were the florid pink spires of the 17th-century neo-Gothic la Parroquia church scraping a technicolor blue sky; buh-bye courtyard haciendas, braying sidewalk donkeys, tutti-frutti paper flowers.
What they got instead was an Old World culture famed for its pared down elegance, its pale, sober color schemes, its reverence for the plainspoken and understated. “It was a challenge, to say the least,” says Midy. “Everything here is different.” But Olivier and his younger brother, Antoine, were nearing school age, and for Midy, a Franco-American who grew up in Paris, and her partner, Jorge Almada, a Mexican-American who grew up in Mexico and Chicago, a European education appealed. After twelve years in San Miguel, they were itching to spend time in Europe. And the partners are no strangers to bridging cultures: their Casa Midy furnishings line, which is produced in San Miguel and its environs, marries craftsmanship with a luxuriously modern sensibility that brings the best of both worlds gloriously to the fore.
It’s that kind of alchemy that Midy eventually put to work at the family’s Norman-style home on the outskirts of Brussels, designed with a winning combo of Mexican joie de vivre and European restraint. The former groundskeeper’s house has beamed walls, a pitched roof, and the kind of lush gardens that would be hard to imagine in the high Mexican desert. “The house was full of surprises,” says Midy. Attempting a cosmetic redo of the floors in the kitchen, contractors discovered that much of the flooring on the ground level wasn’t up to code and had to be ripped out. But that allowed Midy to reconfigure the floorplan, doing away with a warren of small rooms in favor of airy public spaces—kitchen, office, mudroom and two living rooms—connected in a circle and bedazzled with walls of windows. Chic, 1960s-flavored pocket doors allow the family to partition certain areas for privacy and purpose. “With two boys, three dogs and the bad weather, the mud room is crucial,” explains Midy. “All the gear and clutter have their place and I can slide the door closed and don’t have to see the mess.”
The renovation left rooms with crisp white walls and stark interior architecture that were at odds with the house’s country French-inspired exterior and the family’s POV. “As much as I love modern spaces, they can sometimes be too logical,” says Midy. “And I love things that are not perfect. I needed some soul and a sense of history.”
Cue the new floor finishes: local bluestone for the entryway and kitchen, and gorgeous wide-oak planks “in which you can see the hand of the artisan” everywhere else. Midy transformed the original staircase with a splashy coat of paint, creating a head-turner that recalls the family’s sunny former stomping grounds. “It was originally dark brown, which was too sad for me,” says Midy. “But I didn’t want to rip it out. It was so modern in a way, it looked almost like African sculpture. I thought, ‘Let’s paint it and have red as a motif that flows throughout.” The millwork in the mudroom and kitchen wears the same warm, coral-like shade. There are red knobs on upstairs doors, as well as red baseboard moldings, and an immersive little red hallway leading into Olivier’s room.
The collections and objects displayed throughout the house are quirky, characterful and deeply personal—framed comic-book character cutouts made for the family by an artist friend, Mexican textiles, verdure wall- paper panels, an enormous broom sculpture by one of their favorite artists in San Miguel. “The advantage of a neutral modern canvas is that it allows you to play,” says Midy. “I like old things, contemporary things, kitschy things. If you love a piece, mix it with whatever you have. For me, there are no don’ts.”
Click through the slideshow below to check out a few of our favorite Casamidy pieces.
Brush Fire console
Collier center table
Serifos occasional table
Hunting Bar tray table
Rue Conde end tables
Diego canopy bed
Symi painted lanterns
Pila Seca pendant