Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parisian Perfection

Sometimes, an apartment comes along in the pages of a magazine that makes me swoon to the point of dizziness. One such apartment is this one, below, owned by a former editor of French Vogue. Located in Saint-Germain-Des-Pres, a section of Paris, France, the apartment is graced by tall, bright windows, a wide terrace and high ceilings. The owner, who was also once a set builder, gutted the apartment herself and brought her own unique touches to the place, which started out as a rabbit warren of small rooms in a non-descript, concrete building dating back to the 1950's. When the owner first saw it, the apartment was a mess of tastelessness: Artex tiles on the ceiling, flat and hollow doors, a built-in bar, shag-carpeted platforms, hacienda doorways and a tiled breakfast area on a plinth. "Hideous" was the word she used to describe the place. And yet, she saw the potential.

To achieve her vision of the perfect apartment, she reformulated the entire plan of the apartment, transforming two of the bedrooms into new rooms entirely: one became a large kitchen, the other an even larger ensuite bathroom - two domestic dreams she had been unable to attain anywhere else in Paris. She also peeled back the worn-out carpets to reveal stunningly intricate parquet flooring - the only apartment in the entire building with such a feature, which enraged jealous neighbours who had told her, prior to the renovation, that she was buying the worst unit in the apartment. Ha!

The most effective and revealing element of the place is the owner's own stylistic imprints, achieved through her artful arrangements of cherished objects and eclectic, even unusual, decorating concepts in her rooms. I'm in love. You?
In the sparse and graceful entrance, a nineteenth-century globe of the galaxy strikes an imposing and impressive pose next to a custom-made hat stand and an 1860s gilded mirror.

An eclectic mix of antique Spanish tiles create an amusing frame for the fireplace, which is surrounded by much-loved objects from her travels.

I love this display of the owner's collection of ceramic and porcelaine birds: a delicate aviary full of whimsy and charm.

The owner's most treasured painting - an original Andy Warhol - hangs in the dining room/library, surrounded by antique books and a collection of rare china.

Although the owner prefers warm, rustic tones, she opted for cool blues in the living room to bring a visual calm to the space. The French doors were originally designed to have panes of glass sandwiching vintage butterfly specimens between them to give the appearance of fluttering wings each time they were opened, but the specimens in question were too expensive and elusive.
The parquet flooring was a stunning surprise to the owner, who peeled back the well-worn carpeting to reveal its treasured patterns. The bedroom beyond the glass doors is a well-appointed but small space, anchored by a custom-made iron bed full of spade-shaped leaf patterns and playful monkeys. Love it!
The enormous bathroom is a rare treat, indeed, in a city like Paris. The owner transformed one of the three bedrooms into her ensuite bath. A shelf above the sink nicely displays her colourful collection of Clichy vases.

The kitchen is an ode to personal flights of fancy. It was also a bedroom at one time but has found new spirit as a much-used kitchen, with access to the terrace. The owner displays her collection of glass bowls on the ceiling, an idiomadic expression I adore!

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