Several years ago, Meg and I had the privilege of staying at Paris Perfect’s lovely “Beaujolais” apartment, just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel tower and around the corner from our favorite gourmet street, rue Cler. We loved the apartment due to its stellar location, spacious bedrooms, separate bathrooms, view of the Eiffel Tower, large kitchen and, last but not least, proximity to our favorite luxury resale store downstairs (where a few handbags and belts with fancy names may have been purchased!).
I remember sitting at the dining room table one evening, with our computers open and our spreadsheets on overdrive, trying not to be distracted by the Eiffel tower twinkling outside the window, and looking around the apartment saying, “Gosh, this is such a great location and nice space but wouldn’t it be nice if …”
The "ifs" included updating the kitchen, renovating the master bathroom which had a big tub with no shower (to the point where we were sharing the smaller ensuite bathroom next to the 2nd bedroom!), and simplifying the living room. Of course we never intended to tell the owners because overall we loved it and were grateful to be there. But we did think that with a little tweaking, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen, it could go from a great to a wow.
And then, fast forward several years and smack in the middle of the pandemic, when travel was impossible and our businesses were closed, we got the call: The owners wanted a renovation of the Beaujolais apartment and asked us to handle it. No problem, we said, as we tried to figure out how we could achieve this long distance. Luckily, we knew the apartment well and had a great team on the ground who were able to handle the logistics. But for the next three months, we were glued to this apartment through our computers, trying to manage a major renovation across the ocean and hoping that the powerpoint presentations and mood boards would translate correctly in real life.
We were lucky: This one didn’t involve moving any walls, changing the plumbing or modifying the electrical plan. We redesigned the master bath, replaced the existing kitchen, added molding to the walls, painted every surface and updated the décor to be less cluttered and more streamlined. We also replaced some of the lighting, changed out the art, and replaced most of the furniture. OK, we did a lot!
The "before" living room was cozy but a little dark
So we strove for white walls with dark accents to highlight the art (and mask the TV)
The dining room was pretty but there was a lot going on for such a small space
We decided to take it back to its bones by restoring the moldings, adding a fabulous mirror and sconces and simplifying the furniture
The bathroom was wonderfully large but the tub was impractical
We started from scratch, adding a big shower, reconfiguring the washer and dryer and putting in a vanity that had plenty of counter space for all of those toiletries we travel with (one of our bugaboos!)
We kept the appliances and layout of the surprisingly spacious kitchen
but replaced the countertops, backsplash and cabinets to open up the space.
The master bedroom had great bones and wonderful closet space
so it just needed a coat of paint, some molding, wallpaper and new facades to the closets (not shown)
We played off the blush of the wallpaper (Japonica, from Thibaut) with a few neutral pillows and an ethereal painting by gallery artist, Shirley Lewis
We loved the idea of toile in the second bedroom
but felt that it could be cleaner and crisper if it were just used on the walls
So where was the biggest bang for the buck? Definitely the bathrooms and kitchen, which were the only thing that really needed an update. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t take a lot to make a big impact, or go from great to wow.
Take, for instance, the addition of molding. As this was a Haussmann designed building, the molding was probably there to begin with and was stripped off the walls during a previous renovation. Adding back the original molding is a small way to restore the original beauty and it completely transforms a room.
Another favorite wow: Having a dark accent wall to set off the contrast with original art. This art came from our gallery artist Amy Dixon,
and what a wow it created!
A third favorite is the addition of wallpaper, especially in the bedrooms.
See how wallpaper softens the edges of the bedroom above
... and sets the tone for the second bedroom.
And why not have fun with a powder room? This time we went to town with David Hicks’ iconic hexagon pattern, which adds to the playful touch of an otherwise plain little powder room.
Another favorite "tip" is to remove the TV from being the first thing you see when you enter the room. Here we replaced the original TV, hung between the windows, with an Eiffel Tower painting by Amy Dixon.
and we "hid" the TV in the dark nook, across from the sofa.
Another tip : Keep the colors consistent from room to room, especially in Paris apartments which tend to be on the cozier side (aka smaller!) than what we're used to.
And our final hurrah: Replacing the chandelier with a real wow factor, that glitters at night and day, and if we're lucky, catches the sparkle from the Eiffel Tower.
So even though we swear we didn't prompt them, we're grateful to our clients for deciding to renovate this apartment and giving us the assignment. And we're even more grateful that this nice, spacious 2 bedroom apartment is available for rent from our favorite Paris rental agency, Paris Perfect. Ask for the Beaujolais apartment and if you get to stay there, let us know what you think!
PS All the "after" shots of this apartment were done by the uber talented photographer and friend, Georgianna Lane. Follow her on instagram @georgiannalane and you'll be blown away by her images of Paris - and other cities. She also has published several books, including my current favorite, Paris in Bloom.