Budget Breakdown: A Muddled Parisian Pad Gets a Sleek Makeover for $117K

Budget Breakdown: A Muddled Parisian Pad Gets a Sleek Makeover for $117K

By Laura Mauk
By capturing natural light and adding svelte, custom furniture, JCPCDR rescues a dark, dated apartment in the 4th arrondissement.

When architect Jean-Christophe Petillault of JCPCDR Architecture remodeled an 1820 apartment in the 4th arrondissement of Paris—home to Le Marais, The Centre Pompidou, and Les Halles—he updated the floor plan, flooding the rooms with natural light, and infused the furnishings with a fresh, tailored sensibility. "My clients are a young, active, cosmopolitan couple," Petillault says. "The new design embodies sharp, contemporary aesthetics and the floor plan now has maximum efficiency."

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Grand Total: $116,900

In the kitchen, an oak counter warms white lacquered cabinetry and a marble backsplash. "The kitchen was one of the trickiest parts of the flat to design," Petillault says. "[It was located] in the center of the floor plan, one room away from the windows, [so] we decided to blend it into the living room." 

Petillault’s clients, a professional couple in their thirties, commissioned the architect to convert the 810-square-foot apartment from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom. They also requested that a deep, rich blue tone be a focal point of the new design. "They requested dark blue," the architect says. "I highlighted the blue with contrasting white. Using lighter tones around the blue reflects light and gives a sense of spaciousness." 

In the open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area, oak flooring laid in a chevron pattern and idiosyncratic wood ceiling beams add texture and a graphic quality.  

"There had been previous refurbishments with various styles and materials," Petillault remembers of the existing apartment. "The general atmosphere was rather dark and sad."

The mishmash of styles and materials from prior remodels inspired the architect to gut the apartment and start from scratch. "Because of the long and narrow layout, the main challenge was to make the most of incoming daylight," he says. "I divided the space in two halves according to the position of the windows. The whole apartment was recreated from this central position and a play on symmetry." Sunlight pours into the apartment via windows on each end, but in order to flood the centrally located spaces with sunlight, the architect topped each wall with a clerestory that allows light to flow from one room to the next.

Clerestory windows allow sunlight to filter into all of the rooms in the apartment. Steel sconces with a gold finish lend a sophisticated touch to the otherwise restrained palette. 

"Both of the bedrooms are master bedrooms," Petillault says. "The partition wall was an opportunity to do a beautifully colored, space-saving headboard and face the bed toward the window."

Petillaut designed a large closet on the other side of the partition wall, which also acts as a headboard for the bed, in one of the master bedrooms.

"I optimized every inch of space in the bathroom," says Petillaut, who employed a black-and-white palette and geometric lines that make the room feel more voluminous. 

To add balance and interest, the architect contrasted the texture of oak shelving with the sleek finish of glossy white tile in the bathroom. 

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Petillault outfitted the rooms with custom furniture pieces—some of them built-in—with light footprints and slim silhouettes that preserve floor space and promote spaciousness. "Every square inch of space was precious," the architect says. "We like to design interiors that are functional and coherent. Bespoke furniture becomes an integrated part of the architecture."

Petillaut designed a modernist built-in oak table that cantilevers in the dining room, preserving space in the open-plan area. Custom chairs with a slim silhouette also help to conserve space and create an airy quality for the room.

The architect created an open plan for the public space, but delineated rooms by creating different levels; the living and the dining room step down from the kitchen, which is on the same level as the bedrooms and the bath behind it. The difference in floor heights also helps to balance the narrow floor plan and high ceilings.

The dining area and the living room step down from the kitchen; the change in height helps to define the open-plan rooms.

The custom dining table is built in o the steps that separate the kitchen from the dining area.

"This apartment is located in one of the most desirable and picturesque districts of Paris," Petillault says. "It embodied most of the challenges commonly encountered with Parisian elder buildings. Although daylight pours in from windows on both ends, the apartment’s core seemed to stretch along a dark and rather narrow corridor. The new owner’s desire to make it two bedrooms was the perfect opportunity to give it a full refurbishment."

More Budget Breakdown:

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A Gloomy Apartment in Israel Does a Full 180 for $115K

Project Credits:

Architecture and design: JCPCDR Architecture / @jcpcdr

Construction: SCJ Renovation

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