For many, Paris is known as the City of Lights or City of Love. For Julia Barba-Baudlot, creator and founder of contemporary accessory brand La Filippine, the latter rang especially true. The Filipina, who was then working for her mother’s costume jewellery company, was on a work trip to the city in 2007 to participate in a trade show. During her visit, she had a chance encounter with a Frenchman who would later become her husband.
“A friend had dragged me to a random birthday party. And, coincidentally, my husband was brought there by his friend,” recalls the Cebu-born fashion entrepreneur. “But it was not to matchmake us, though. Apparently, the birthday girl did not know many people in Paris then, and we were all there to make the day more special.”
The two hit it off and decided to tie the knot after dating for a couple of years. She then moved to Paris to be with her husband. As far as the romance part was concerned, Barba-Baudlot had lucked out. When it came to the Parisian light, however, she had her concerns.
Despite her love for the city, the typical 19th-century Haussmannian architecture that defines Paris and characterises its beautiful residential buildings, meant that the apartments were sorely lacking in light. “We were living in a two-bedroom apartment and had a very large living area with long hallways. And because it was a rectangular layout, with small windows that looked into the courtyard, there was hardly any light coming into the apartment,” she explains. Plus, as with most Parisian buildings, there was also no lift to their fourth-storey apartment. So, when her husband was posted to Singapore for work, Barba-Baudlot took the opportunity to look for apartments that were the exact opposite.
Related article: Uber Stylish Wendy Long Welcomes Us Into Her Stunning Home
“I think it was just a natural reaction to the years of living in such an apartment. I just wanted something that is different, and more importantly, modern,” she says, letting out a laugh before adding that one of her major requirements for their new home in Singapore was ample light.
And that is exactly what she got with this apartment. Stepping out of the private lift that opens to her duplex in a luxury condominium located a stone’s throw away from Orchard Road, one is greeted by natural light that reaches every corner of the house—even when the weather turns gloomy and skies are cloudy, such as the day the BAZAAR Singapore crew visited the chic home. All this is thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows that circle the perimeter.
From where we stand, and through the glass panel that separates the entrance foyer from the rest of the house, it is impossible to miss the stunning 180-degree, unblocked view of the Orchard Road skyline in the horizon.
“This is one of the reasons why we decided on this apartment because you can also see both the sunrise and sunset from right here in the living room,” says Barba-Baudlot. “Whenever there is
a nice sunset or a sunrise, I always ask the children to look up from their books or from their games because we should not take these things for granted.”
Walking into the apartment, one immediately sees the effortless interplay of cultures artfully combined in the interior décor of the space. While a Scandi-chic aesthetic dominates, there are spots where Barba-Baudlot’s Filipino heritage shines, turning the four-bedroom apartment into a cosy family home. The French, she adds, are very much into the ‘bourgeois-bohemian’, or BoBo, look, an eclectic mashup of styles that is something she is not a big fan of. Nonetheless, she tries to balance what her husband prefers with her own aesthetics. “I try to make sure that everybody is happy to be in the home. So, there are a lot of muted but beautiful pieces.”
Any piece in the house that is made of natural materials, she says, is an homage to her Filipino heritage. For instance, a rattan rocking horse, which she bought for her son years ago from a flea market, sits in the corner of the room, right next to a handsome white marble-top round table—a gift from her father-in-law, which they transported to Singapore from Paris. Then, there are the pops of colour by way of beautiful handmade linens, cushion covers, and the artworks that hang on the walls. Painted by her very good friend, Filipino artist Golda King, the pieces were bought by Barba-Baudlot at an auction. “During the pandemic, she auctioned off some of her paintings and the proceeds went to the frontliners,” she shares.
The balance of muted pieces with vibrant colours sums up her personal style, especially when it comes to her dressing. “I can be adventurous when it comes to mixing patterns and colours, but not too crazy,” she elaborates. “I like pieces that are design-forward, yet at the same time, are able to be paired with a basic to make them more relatable.”
One of her favourite pieces in her wardrobe, she says, is a CELINE top with an attached scarf. “It looks like a simple t-shirt but I really fell in love with it because of the scarf. You can wear it multiple ways and it just adds visual interest to your look. Plus, it is not something everyone can pull off.”
Showing us around the apartment, Barba-Baudlot leads us outside and onto the spacious balcony that almost wraps around the entire house. “I wouldn’t say 360 degrees because there is a good three feet of space that is being blocked,” she says. Still, the al fresco space is a delightful bonus, especially when she throws dinner parties, which she does on occasion. Or when the pandemic hit and Singapore entered the circuit breaker. “We were able to be ‘outdoors’ without flouting any rules, because we were technically indoors, and inside our home,” she says. Putting the space to good use during the enforced stay-home period, Barba-Baudlot says the balcony was also the place where she worked on her fitness. As an amateur barré practitioner, the steel bars attached to the outdoor glass barrier came in very useful.
Up the stairs is the master bedroom where the Franco-Filipino aesthetic continues. On one side is a vintage chest of drawers that holds a coffee machine and other electronic gadgets. And on the other side of the bed, right next to the bay window, stands a tall lamp with a wicker lampshade. “You can immediately tell which side of the bed is my husband’s, and which one is mine,” she says, pointing out her penchant for warm, natural materials versus his need for technology.
The couple’s bed rests against a full glass panel that separates it from the living room. It is a great feature, she adds, as the bedroom also enjoys the benefit of natural light streaming into the house. Plus, it allows her to keep a close watch on her two children, Maxine, 11, and Batiste, five.
“Sometimes, they try to be cheeky and start playing their video games too early in the morning, or when they’re supposed to be doing other things. I would then knock on the panel to get them back into their rooms,” she says, laughing.
Related article: Inside Fashion Director Evon Chng’s Warm And Dreamy Home
Indeed, while the Barba-Baudlot apartment offers the family of four plenty of personal space to work and play in, its bright and open configuration enables them to stay connected. As she puts it: “It’s a rather big apartment, of course. However, the layout and the design makes it cosy. We’re never too far away from one another.”
Photographed by Gan
Styled by Gracia Phang