Very Parisian Studio Apartment: Glazed Doors, Marble Table, Candles, Fireplaces, Paintings, Massive Chandelier, Threadbare Parquetry and no Closets
Gabriel, a landscape architect, a teacher of History of Architecture
Oliver, a communications specialist in Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation
Number of rooms: 1
Metric area: 60 m²
Ceiling height: 3 m
Floor number: 3
A lodging in Le Marais (“The Marsh”) district, on the right bank of the Seine, between Place de la Bastille in the south and the Place de la République in the north, has been rented by Gabriel and Oliver for 6 years already. Open spaces in style of NYC lofts are a black swan in Paris, but Gabriel, who left Brooklyn for the city of love, was geared up for finding this very kind of dwelling. That is why now, when friends ask if the hosts would like to separate the bedroom or the lounge with curtains or a screen, Gabriel gets absolutely puzzled.
The Marsh is one of the few neighborhoods, which were not touched by the reconstruction wave of the 19th century. Thanks to this fact, now it can boast versatile types of architectural monuments from different epochs. American expatriates call the northern part of the district NoMa (North Marais). It features multiple advertising and creative agencies surrounded by an ever-growing number of fashionable cafes, bars, galleries and modern museums. For instance, the Museum of Hunting and Nature, exhibiting installations of a famous Belgian artist Jan Fabre, is situated next-door to Oliver and Gabriel’s house.
One more bonus of the Marsh is its narrow streets, almost inappropriate for parking a car. Thus, most of its inhabitants ride bicycles winter and summer.
Back in 1970s the Marsh was just a neglected part of Paris with ramshackle houses, among which was also the house in question: till general overhaul, made by its new owners, roof holes were pervious to sunlight, rain, snow and even hail. Having invested in cheap real estate of 1820s and its costly renovation in due time, now the landlords earn huge sums of money from renting out apartments in one of the most attractive quarters of the city.
In 1980s one of the walls was torn down to re-design the living space as an office. That’s how emerged the open space, so liked by Gabriel. The roomers were trying to zone the space: a bedroom, lounge, dining room, kitchen, but the feeling of being among theatre sets remained.
The kitchen faced the most crucial changes and now features everything needed for throwing dinner parties. Many interior things were hand-made by the guys.
Of course the apartment includes essential features of any Parisian dwelling: threadbare wooden parquetry, four French glazed doors, two fireplaces and huge golden-framed mirrors hanging over them. The only minus is the absence of central heating (which is by the way not uncommon for Paris). On cold winter nights frosty breeze easily blows into large windows. A fully functional fireplace saves the situation, but anyway guests are recommended not to take off warm clothes from December to April.
Some furniture items came to the guys through Oliver’s parents. Among them are chairs and a dining table by Eero Saarinen and a classic English leather sofa by Chesterfield from 1970s. Marble surface of the table works like a mirror and lights the dark corner of the room. Usually table tops of this model have a cooler metal tint, but this sample is alabaster-cream with bright veins, blending with the brown-and–beige color range of the lodging.
Gabriel’s parents used to sell antiques, and their house was always heaped up with old paintings. The majority of them were portraits from different epochs. On moving to Paris, their son started his own collection and gave each picture a name: “Poet”, “Artist”, “Lawyer”. The hosts and their friends enjoy concocting different stories about their favorite characters. For instance, the “Poet” is in love with “Hedda”, that’s why they hang close to each other.
Steel furniture was purchased by the couple in different antique stores of Europe. For instance, a drafting desk arrived from Brussels. Many Parisians prefer to buy vintage furniture exactly in Belgium due to a huge price difference. Besides all Belgian junkmen offer home delivery. Gabriel had to spend a lot of time and effort to talk Oliver into buying such a massive item, but in the end the table perfectly fit between the agreed bedroom and lounge.
One more antique boon is a large leather chest for clothes. It proved to be quite useful, since there is actually no more “closet” in this flat. Everything that didn’t go into the chest was sorted out in suitcases. Perhaps, it’s not the most convenient idea, but on the other hand the guys may easily pack for a short weekend getaway.
A chandelier is a glue of the entire space, which was found on a legendary Parisian flea market Clignancourt. The host made up their mind to replace cheap wiring with candles, and the massive chandelier was never connected to electricity supply, just hung in the middle of plaster ornament on the ceiling. Twinkling of candle lights reflects in both of the mirrors and creates a magical atmosphere.