Location: Paris, France
Rent or own: Own
Size: 430 sq/ft including mezzanine
Years lived in: 3 (owned for 40 years)
Anne's husband passed away three years ago, and with him their plans to retire to their country house in the Midi. So Anne decided to move out of their grand apartment in the 7th and to convert his artist's studio in the nearby 15th -- which they had inherited two days before their wedding in 1964 -- into a pied-à-terre...
"Everyone said I was crazy," says Anne, who converted the space with the help of an architect, keeping the original wood floors and staircase, but building in storage, one and a half bathrooms, a laundry closet and a full contemporary kitchen that maximized the space beneath the mezzanine. Anne had an architect re-formulate the mezzanine for increased volume and light, including a window in the bathroom that looks out into the space above the living room and takes advantage of the light pouring in from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the main room. The tall ceilings of the atelier and floor-to-ceiling French windows mean that light pours in regardless of the weather and adds volume to the space, that feels much more spacious than its 430 square feet.
Anne decorated the loft with favorite mid-century furnishings from their old apartment; her husband's paintings line the walls. Anne is a fine arts publisher, and the architect built in bookshelves to hold her many tomes. "He designed a bookcase that went all the way to the ceiling," she says, "but it was too expensive. So I pared down my collection. And now all my books are within reach -- it doesn't make much sense to have them go up the ceiling just for show." She said she has also stopped collecting, confining herself to what she has room for on the shelves.
Anne still spends time in their country house in the Midi, but her Parisian apartment feels like an urban oasis. Situated on a quiet, verdant courtyard with a handful of other ateliers and houses, Anne even has a little picket fence around her front patio, that also serves as an alfresco dining room in fair weather. "It's hard to move," Anne says, "to see your whole life being disassembled before your eyes. But I feel good here. I have everything I need."
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. If you have an idea for a European house tour, please write kristin @ apartmenttherapy . com