A 538-Square-Foot Loft in the Heart of Paris Offers a Lesson in Efficiency

In Paris’s Montorgueil district, on the upper floors of a very old building, a young man in his 30s set his sights on a small duplex for his first home purchase. “The apartment was in horrible condition, with a collapsed floor and it looked like squatters had been living there. It was a mess,” recalls Pauline Lorenzi-Boisrond about the first time she visited the property with Maxence Lesueur, her partner at interior design agency Studio Ett Hem. Commissioned by the new owner to redesign the space, the pair had to start from scratch to rethink its 538 square feet spread over two levels.

cuisine moderne dans appartement avec poutres au plafond peintes en blanc ilot en granit blanc rangements blancs...

Two BassamFellows bar stools from Galerie Triode face the kitchen island. Modular pendant lights are placed between the beams, and the wall sconce comes from DCW Éditions. An open niche in the wall above the sink creates a feeling of openness.

© bcdf studio

The owner’s wish for his small nest in the heart of Paris required pulling off a balancing act. He wanted a multi-purpose space that could serve both as a private retreat and as a social one too, able to accommodate intimate dinners and convivial gatherings. In order to house all these different functions, the architects had to optimize every square inch with custom designed elements. They were soon confronted, however, with the reality of a wood-beamed top-floor apartment with uneven levels and other challenges. “Walls, floors, and ceilings all had to be squared to recreate the shape of a box,” explains Pauline.

The next step was to make circulation as fluid as possible in the face of constraints such as scattered columns and chimney flues threading their way between the walls, rendering them immovable. Every opportunity for an opening or arch was seized, even in the kitchen, where the importance that the owner placed on entertaining helped drive the design. A central island with a high-performance range and integrated hood became the heart of this convivial space, incorporating a dining area and a worktop. The result is a harmonious flow of traffic between the living room, kitchen, and dining room, creating the feeling of a small loft.

salon dans un appartement parisien bois bton cir parquet

From the dining room, the rounded corners of the passageway, clad in stained oak, match those of the bookshelf.

© bcdf studio

bibliothèque en bois sur une banquette en bton se prolongeant en canap

On the bookshelf, a Kaws figurine and a Hay table lamp.

© bcdf studio

With the aim of infusing every nook and cranny of the limited space with an atmosphere of softness, the designers sought out rounded shapes. “We tried to avoid protruding corners,” says Pauline. “Even with the concrete bench, the corners are slightly rounded for a sense of softness.” From the wood paneling to the shelves, the joinery also embraces curves to allow the eye to move around the home without ever being stopped by sharp angles. The principle applies, as well, to the furniture choices. The round coffee table from Popus Editions, the dining room table in concrete, and the chairs, both welcoming and elegantly rounded, reinforce the architects’ desire to create a balance with the apartment’s rigid elements. The choice of materials, meanwhile, provides the home with a sense of solid character: Concrete, folded black metal, and dark wood vie for the limelight. It’s a balance between softness and firmness, reflecting its owner’s sensibilities.

module escalier en bois et bton banquette avec canap beige table basse ronde vert canap togo
vole d'escalier en mtal pli noir sur rangements en chêne fonc et bibliothèque peinte en blanc

The folded metal staircase and the stained-oak closet are both defined by their clean lines.

© bcdf studio

When it comes to optimizing space, it’s crucial to consider ways in which a volume can be exploited by playing with levels. Naturally, when the feature to be optimized is a staircase, the possibility of creating different landings is a given. “When we enlarged the staircase to accommodate its turn, the lost space offered new opportunities. I love to create levels, so the line that follows the second step of the staircase is extended to become a bench with drawers, and then, finally, it is transformed into a sofa with soft cushions,” Pauline explains. As if to further highlight the staircase’s multiplicity of uses, its materials change as one ascends it: A block of travertine that serves as the first step is followed by a concrete one and then stained oak. A storage closet is cleverly concealed under the treads. The flight of steps continues in folded black metal, counterbalancing the organic warmth of the other three materials.”

salle de bains en bton cir et miroir double face

Upstairs, the bathroom opens onto the bedroom.

© bcdf studio

rangements en bois dans un bloc de bton cir tableau au mur

On the wall, a work by Jules Wittock (Galerie Isabelle Laverny).

© bcdf studio

Upstairs, the need to include a bathroom and bedroom within a small space required the architects to reimagine the layout. They needed a solution that wouldn’t compromise the sense of openness that characterizes the apartment. Rather than enclosing the two spaces, a multi-level concrete block in the shape of a staircase separates them while housing cupboards on one side and a shower on the other, complete with a vanity top and double-sided mirror. To maximize space, the headboard has been designed to make the most of the area under the banisters: It tilts open, revealing additional storage space. In addition, deep drawers have been integrated under the bedside tables, which are in stained oak to maintain the home’s overall aesthetic. In the end, it’s a successful renovation, efficient and original, for this small attic space.

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