6 days ago

See Inside This Bright and Airy Apartment in Pigalle, Paris

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A Paris apartment is restored by its Irish owners …

Irishwoman Claire Delap and her husband James Russell have transformed this late 19th-century apartment in a historical building in Pigalle’s Nouvelle Athènes quarter into a beautiful light-filled family apartment. The neighbourhood was established during the 19th century when the intellectual and artistic elite settled there, building townhouses with a classical influence.

“I was looking for a neighbourhood that would feel like Monkstown meets the West Village meets Parson’s Green, and I wanted to be close to Gare Du Nord for trips to London. It’s also on the quickest route to Charles De Gaulle,” says Delap. “Pigalle has a good neighbourhood energy, and an international vibe. The apartment on rue Chaptal hadn’t been touched since the 1950s, and was still laid out in its original format – huge hallway, tiny kitchen, one poky bathroom. In other words, it was the perfect canvas. I wanted to keep all the parquet flooring and all the beautiful features. Lots of wood. A mix of modern and old.”

Delap and her husband engaged Paris architect Nathalie Eldan to reconfigure the space. The couple love to host and entertain guests so the new layout – with drawing room, kitchen, two spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms, home office and laundry room – was organised to preserve their privacy and autonomy when they have guests to stay. To achieve this, a large storage area was placed between their master bedroom and bathroom and the rest of the apartment, working as a sensorial buffer zone.

Even though the apartment is very spacious, the original layout had lacked storage. The goal was to make the most of every “pocket” available. There is now a wide walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom as well as the hallway storage area. “Good storage is life-changing,” says Delap.

“The refurbishment was about creating a quiet, light-filled, timeless space rather than over-designing or following trends,” says Eldan. Materials were carefully curated. While the apartment’s oak floor was restored, the bathrooms have colourful terrazzo floors. The contrast of the oak parquet floor and white walls is refined and elegant. Delap took on the decoration of the apartment herself. “My sister-in-law pointed me in the direction of Flos for lights. The enamel light fittings are from Belgian company Zangra – simple, beautifully made and affordable. Once you find the right lighting, everything follows from there. We bought secondhand furniture from Selency and a few new pieces from La Redoute (the French answer to West Elm). I painted furniture. Once I discovered the BHV department store in the Marais, finding budget-friendly pieces and tackling DIY projects became so much easier.”

Delap runs TakeMonday, a smart travel accessories company, from a co-working space, a ten-minute walk from home, because, she says, “I’m a bit too fond of doing the laundry to be super-productive workwise at home. However I do have a study – a lovely space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. This is the room I retreat to in the evenings. A big desk overlooking the street and a working fireplace means I never begrudge putting in a few more hours before bed.”

Photographs by Lorenzo Zandri

Keeping the walls pale in the salon allowed the beautiful original cornicing and parquet floor to stand out. 

The large Haussmanian windows allow in plenty of light, hugely important for gardenless living.

In the study, a lovely space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

The kitchen has matte oak cupboards, and marble walls and countertop.

The large oak dining table is from La Redoute. The dining chairs are a mix – this one is by a young designer in East London called Fred Rigby.

The apartment is on the first floor of a “New Athenian-style” building: like many Parisians, the inhabitants of the building take great pride in their window boxes, a tiny pocket of green.

The furniture in the living room is a mixture of vintage pieces (such as the 1970s coffee table) and high street finds.

The piano was bought from a church in Harlem and has travelled with Claire and James on four consecutive house moves. This time, it arrived via the window of the apartment.

In the study, a brass sconce adds a modern touch.

Keeping the walls pale in the salon allowed the beautiful original cornicing and parquet floor to stand out.

The large Haussmanian windows allow in plenty of light, hugely important for gardenless living.

In the study, a lovely space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

The kitchen has matte oak cupboards, and marble walls and countertop.

The large oak dining table is from La Redoute. The dining chairs are a mix – this one is by a young designer in East London called Fred Rigby.

The apartment is on the first floor of a “New Athenian-style” building: like many Parisians, the inhabitants of the building take great pride in their window boxes, a tiny pocket of green.

The furniture in the living room is a mixture of vintage pieces (such as the 1970s coffee table) and high street finds.

The piano was bought from a church in Harlem and has travelled with Claire and James on four consecutive house moves. This time, it arrived via the window of the apartment.

In the study, a brass sconce adds a modern touch.

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