The Paris Apartment, Part XIII
I have always loved before and afters. It’s one of the first things I look at when I’m leafing through a magazine, and I examine every detail to see how even the smallest improvement can make a huge difference. However I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable about doing a before and after, especially when it’s someone else’s before.
So let’s be clear here: This apartment had great bones to begin with, and the decor was perhaps a little shoddy not because of someone else’s neglect or poor taste, but because it was being rented by three students. Still, the pictures reveal what we saw when we first visited it, which says as much about the Paris real estate market as it does our improvements: i.e. with a great location and good bones in Paris, you don’t need to do much to an apartment for it to sell. And sure enough, it didn’t show too well. So luckily for us, that makes the “after” just a little more dramatic.
For starters, here’s the front hall:
This was an easy fix, with some wallpaper hand carried from Atlanta, and a beautiful Regence style mirror found in the South of France.
Yes, the apartment showed with garbage being hung from the door. Beyond it was the kitchen, which we turned into a bathroom. Just taking the garbage off the door was a huge improvement! We hated to lose the glass door, but given that the room was turned in to a bathroom, we had little choice.
Here is the original kitchen, in the back overlooking the courtyard. You’ll see in part II what we did to the kitchen. And this room turned in to a beautiful bathroom … but not without my losing a little sleep during the lengthy intermediary stages.
It didn’t look too good for a long time … actually months and months … and then finally, ta da!
This one really throws me for a loop. This is what the WC looked like when we bought it. Can you imagine selling a house where you painted over the glass in the bathroom window for privacy? Really! How difficult would it be to find a curtain? Especially in the land of gorgeous linens.
We just chose to replace the window panes and add a mirror to bring in the great light over the world’s smallest sink.
The bedrooms came with some wonderful built-in closets which are a rarety in Paris apartments. The problem was, in our minds, they were configured all wrong. In this bedroom, we moved the closets over to the left, revealing a pretty little angled corner that surely used to be a fireplace.
And although it was nice to have so much storage space, we really didn’t need it, so we removed some of these top cupboards, and opened up the walls. The chinoiserie toile, by the way, came from Atlanta … in my suitcase!
On the wall, below, we replaced the students’ desk and, in a flash of pure brilliance from Sam Jones, who helped on this entire renovation, we added molding that echoed the pretty molding from all over the apartment. The paintings, by the way, are from Tracy Sharp, one of our wonderful artists at Huff Harrington.
This second bedroom also had a few too many closets, even for those of us who crave extra storage. We found a good solution here, and just moved everything over a few feet, centering the bed on the wall, with closets on either side.
There’s a whole funny story about the checked fabric here which probably merits its own blog. Suffice it to say that it was a discard from Sam’s pile of treasures. After initially turning it down from Sam’s sweet offer, several years ago, for our Atlanta house as being “too country,” this time I snapped up all ten yards and carefully salvaged enough to do not only the headboard and bedskirt in Paris (see below) but also the bedskirt and several pillows at our house in the South of France (see further below). And, yes, Sam and I hand carried all the fabric to France … in our suitcases!
I just love how the check plays crisply with the toile in this bedroom.
And I am completely in love with the way it looks in this bedroom of Les Murets.
Have you enjoyed our little before and after? Well if so, there’s more. We’ll show the living room and kitchen next (it’s a small apartment, so there’s not a whole lot more) but then we’ll tell you a little secret: How this apartment, and the teamwork that went in to renovating it, has been the inspiration for some very exciting news that we are just about ready to share. Don’t go away!