What’s not to love about a before-and-after makeover? Especially when it’s the transformation of an ugly duckling apartment into a beautiful swan. Introducing the Cairanne apartment! When it came time to remodel the Cairanne after its dramatic purchase (read more about it here), we engaged the dynamic duo of Ann Huff and Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington to oversee the redesign of the apartment. The timing was ideal because Ann and her team were headed to Paris for one of their antique and furnishings shopping tours.
It’s a running joke with everyone that I have “Texas eyes” – I imagine a three-bedroom mansion can fit into 600 square feet. I saw two bedrooms and two bathrooms but Ann and our Operations Manager were polite enough not to tease me too much for this weakness. We met and walked through all the possibilities with the Cairanne.
For the Cairanne, first we assessed the positives:
- Wow – what a view of the Eiffel Tower from the living room!
- Living room was larger than anticipated and with lovely French doors.
- Sunlight galore.
- Beautiful Haussmanian-style building.
- Larger than most one-bedroom apartments: meant we would have a large living area, large bedroom and hopefully two bathrooms.
- A big bonus: the small balcony, a real treat on sunny warm days.
- The setting in the heart of the 7th arrondissement was a true delight. Literally, one block from the rue Cler open-air market, five blocks to the Seine and the new pedestrian Quai des Berges, dozens of excellent boutiques and favorite bistros – it was perfect.
And then the negatives:
- There was a WC (powder room) immediately on the left as you entered. The problem was that it was a long hike to the bedroom at the end of the hallway, through the living room and into the bedroom. If possible, we wanted another toilet off the master bedroom – a rarity in Paris.
- The kitchen was next along the hallway from the entrance, large and overlooking the courtyard and closed off to the rest of the apartment. You continued down a long hallway before you entered the double living/dining room. How to integrate an open-plan kitchen/dining room/living room in an attractive way?
- The long hallway is typical of many Paris apartments. How could we make it more practical, with closets and possibly a second bathroom for guests?
- The bedroom was large and placed in the courtyard; it had an en-suite bathroom, but without a toilet, as is the custom for most French apartments.
Our Paris Operations Manager and Ann Huff came up with an excellent plan:
- Create a kitchen along one wall of the living room and modify access to the former kitchen – to open from the bedroom and turn it into an en-suite bathroom.
- Remove the current bathroom in the master bedroom and convert to closets and a guest bathroom, accessed from the corridor.
- Try to fit in a second WC in the new master bathroom, ideal for all.
- Make the most out of the gorgeous large French doors and view.
As you can see in the floor plans above, the new design on the right takes advantage of the large living room to create a kitchen along one wall with a round dining table fit right in. The gorgeous Eiffel Tower view framed by the French doors leading out to the balcony is the center of the comfortable sitting area on the other side of the living room. The previous kitchen has been transformed into a full en-suite bathroom for the bedroom. The old bathroom was turned into a second bathroom with a shower. The WC right by the entrance was retained, meaning this one bedroom apartment now has two full bathrooms, a rarity in Paris.
Let's take a closer look at this remarkable transformation, starting with the piece that inspired the finished look!
The Cairanne Apartment’s Muse: An Antique Hermès Scarf
While I can find unique pieces of furniture or décor that tell a story and light up a room, Ann and Meg are my models at ‘finished' design – keeping to a theme and making it simple but classic. They are brilliant at creating an entire project themed around one piece. This is exactly what they did at the Cairanne using a beautiful Hermès scarf they had found at a Paris flea market to inspire the unique finished look. The scarf is the pièce de résistance of the Cairanne and has been beautifully presented in a gold frame and now hangs above the bed. Around the bedroom, the gold and rich mustard yellow and soft blues can be spotted in the accent pillows and the antique paintings and lamps.
Before & After At The Cairanne
As the weeks rolled by, things began to take shape beautifully at the Cairanne. We were sure to include the classic touches we know are so important (yet, not common) in Paris: a large hot water heater, lots of outlets and all the modern conveniences. We thought of every detail, including a master switch at the front door, to turn off all the lights when you leave for the day. But, the best part of the renovation is looking back at all the changes along the way. Let us share more of the before and after transformation at the Cairanne, along with some unique Parisian design tips along the way!
The first impact walking into the living room at the Cairanne is one of light and space thanks to the large window and the French doors opening to the balcony. The goal was to enhance this sensation of brightness and create a functional open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area. It was a huge success! The first step was to replace the wood floor with a lighter tone. First, we'll focus on the living area and then take a closer look at the kitchen – before and after.
Ann and Meg have a particular skill in finding the right pictures and aren’t afraid to mix old and new. Thus the combination of the modern oil painting between the windows, blending with old etchings near the sofa. Ann had custom curtains made of beautiful silk and loaded them into her suitcase for the trip from Atlanta to Paris. That's dedication!
Using elegant beige chairs in the living room was ideal. The centerpiece of the sitting area is the impressive gold mirror hanging above the sofa. The mirror, along with the coffee table, lamps and the dresser along the wall, were all flea market finds in Paris.
The kitchen we agreed would be open plan and French country style, built around the existing fireplace in the living room. A chandelier above the dining table would reflect in the mirror above the fireplace and give it a touch of elegance. Finding a simple round dining table at the Paris Flea Market, Ann and Meg painted the top slate black, to pick up the accent colors. But first … the before. Dare we even look at the old kitchen? Let's just take a quick peek!
The kitchen was built into one angle of the living room cleverly incorporating the fireplace mantle and mirror. Clean, white cabinets and a sleek countertop create a modern take on the French country style we were after. Look at all that storage and counter space for cooking.
The bedroom was a blank canvas ready for Ann and Meg's design inspiration, and their work really shines in the after photos. The room already had good “bones” and a built-in wardrobe for storage. The room received a complete facelift along with a comfortable queen-sized bed with sumptuous linens. The framed vintage Hermès scarf above the bed was the final touch – and perfect inspiration for a Parisian apartment!
When the Cairanne was purchased, the bedroom did have an en-suite bathroom, but it only included a bathtub and sink. As we mentioned in our list of negatives, the only toilet was reached by walking all the way through the living room and down to the end of the hallway, by the entrance. Not convenient! But moving the kitchen to the living room, it freed up the former kitchen area, to be turned into a proper full en-suite bathroom – complete with toilet and a beautiful walk-in shower. Take a look at the previous en-suite bathroom and the kitchen and then check out the changes.
Second Bathroom & Powder Room
With the former kitchen turned into a full en-suite bathroom for the bedroom, it left the previous en-suite bathroom – that we just looked at above – available for use as a second bathroom. A doorway was opened from the hallway to enter it from the opposite side. Since it was no longer an en-suite bathroom and there is a powder room down the hallway, the bathroom was easily updated with a beautiful walk-in shower and sink.
The WC off the entrance also received a complete makeover. Choosing black and white tiles on the bathrooms floors was perfect. It created a clean Parisian look, especially with the white metro tiles.
Finally, remember that long and very plain entrance hallway we mentioned? Since then, it's the first impact of the apartment, so we had to pay special attention to this area.
See what a difference the lighter floor makes! It's immediately brighter and more appealing. That combined with the simple decorative wall molding draws your eye immediately to the living room. Small touches like the artwork and the mirror make a huge impact on the hallway space. Mirrors are especially helpful in small spaces. See how the decorative ironwork on the balcony and the light is reflected in the mirror now? It's a great detail.
Perfect Finishing Touches
As the renovation of the Cairanne came to a close and finished right on time, I caught Ann and Meg painting and working on the final touches. It is simply beautiful. If you would like to see more photos and read about this beautiful apartment in Paris, please visit the Cairanne apartment rental page.
We're very excited to announce that the Cairanne is our first fractional offering in Paris. Own your own piece of Paris that comes with our fabulous 5-star service! The Cairanne is to be offered to 13 purchasers who want to own part of a beautiful, unquestionably excellent apartment that is theirs at a reasonable price. See our blog answering some of our most frequently asked questions about fractional co-ownership. Find out more about the Cairanne fractional sale here. For more information, please email [email protected]