Ed first spied his 70m2, one-bedroom, second-floor apartment from his rustic, beam-filled studio across the narrow street. The 19th-century building on a quiet street in the Marais had the bourgeois moldings and marble fireplaces he was longing for, and he didn't waste any time when a For Sale sign went in the window for the first time in 50 years.
The apartment had great bones but was suffering from neglect. He tore down the wall between the living room and dining room, resulting in a spacious main room. He added new wood floors, refinished and repainted the walls and blackened ceiling, opened the fireplaces, replaced the 1950s toilet and put in a new kitchen. And he converted an empty gray interior courtyard into extra outdoor space, painting the walls vivid yellow and adding latticework and climbing ivy, a café table and two chairs.
Ed is a movie producer who fell for Paris on a college year abroad and has been traveling between Southern California and France ever since (he rents the pied-à-terre when he's out of town). An enthusiastic antiques hunter and art collector, Ed is a fixture at the Clingancourt flea market and carts back paintings and furniture from wherever his work or travels take him. His apartment includes a Pierre Frey sofa, 1960s Italian metal and leather dining room chairs bought in the south of France, rugs from Casa Lopez in the Galerie Vivienne, new '30s-style twin lamps on the fireplace mantel from the BHV, paintings from China and Santa Fe, and Martha Stewart towels. "Nothing Louis," he says, adding that he appreciates comfort as well as history. "You ask yourself, 'Do I want to have six Louis XV chairs around my dining table?' You don't want to sit at that dinner table for 10 hours."
Ed says that it seems natural to mix styles in his Parisian apartment, pointing out that many French homes naturally include centuries worth of design history in a single space, something that would seem more contrived in a new building in Southern California. "This building was built in the 1880s," Ed says, "so right there you're almost given the sort of leeway to put in almost anything from when the building was built all the way up until today. I like the fact that you have a broader base to be able to decorate from."
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. If you have an idea for a European house tour, please write kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com