We are talking about the refurb of a minimalist loft in Belleville, one of the most multi-ethnic neighbourhoods in Paris. Belleville is located next to the famous cemetery of Père Lachaise, which is, after Montmartre, the highest hill in Paris. Belleville, once a typical working-class borough, has now become a busy spot for day-trippers and weekenders. Our home owners, of both French and Japanese origin, are a unique couple who work in the arts. In Belleville, they have found the perfect space to turn into the open-plan and free-flowing environment they have longed for.
As it often happens, artists are usually the first ones to colonize a new neighbourhood. In Belleville, the artist colony was soon followed by a number of small art galleries and studios; this kick-started the characterful regeneration of this forgotten neighbourhood. Along the winding alleys, hidden between steep hills, we now have a collection of cafés-théâtres, bistrots and independent boutiques, bringing to the area a colourful mix of different styles and cultures.
Our owners wanted de-clutter their lives and started by getting rid of everything they accumulated in their previous homes. And their need for a clutter free space, also included pulling down all partitions. They wanted their new space to be clean and simple; only a few piece were allowed, all with a specific narrative and clear function. Nature has also been allowed in; stylized, poetic and with a touch of irony; like the trunk of an old oak-tree which is used to hung a hammock from, for listening to music. In the background, a trompe-l'oeil, painted to illustrate a little garden, gives the illusion of a much larger space and hides the entrance to the guest bedroom.
Kitchen and living room are the two areas which bask in most natural light. They look onto a glass façade and the greenery in the courtyard. A minimalist aesthetic and a love of nature also come across in the material choice. The concrete flooring, which is extremely “now”, is inspired by natural stone and earth tones. The large kitchen island, placed in the middle or this space, is also in concrete. Behind modular storage units, a more secluded space, which can be used by the man of the house as his studio.
Our couple has the right sensitivity to enjoy subtle detailing. The interior design was carried out under the watchful eye of Corinne Brustolin of FR66, who has found the right mood for this way of life. Exposed structural frame, in tune with the original aesthetics of the building and a few splashes of colour to highlight the “special” spots. Throughout the loft, the usual ceiling spotlights have been replaced by a series of wall-mounted lamps, table lamps and floor lamps, all fitted with a dimmer-switch, so the intensity of the light can be adjusted to suit individual mood and tastes.
In the bathroom; sliding doors fitted with glass fronts open onto the “spa” corner; this area is completely open with no walls. Colour coding has been used to highlight the specific use of each space. Water and sun is referenced in abstract by the blue and yellow stripes painted on the column opposite the shower.
The inset bathtub is inspired to the traditional Japanese architecture. In this space, tradition and modern technology mix. Shower and bathtub are made in seamless Corian and integrated in the floor with no grout lines for a streamlined look.
The artistic flair of this couple infuses both this house and its surroundings. It's worth mentioning that several figures of note were borne in Belleville: Edith Piaf in 1915 (it's said that her mother gave birth to her opposite n. 72 rue Belleville) and Daniel Pennac, who set in Belleville his popular saga Malaussène. Here, our lucky couple has created a safe haven, away from the prying eyes of constant day-trippers and weekenders.
Refurbishment of a loft and courtyard
Location: Paris, France
Interior design and furniture: FR66, Paris, France
Photo: Courtesy FR66