Location: Paris, France
Lived in: 1 1/2 years
When Géraldine went looking for an apartment to buy in Paris, she set her eye on the 19th arrondissement, a working class neighborhood that's off the tourist circuit but increasingly in demand for locals-in-the-know. "It's the last neighborhood in Paris where you can find a deal," Géraldine said on a rainy afternoon in the charming 5th floor walk-up she bought a year and a half ago.
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The place was in good condition, which suited Géraldine just fine. "I'm not much of a DIYer," she said, "not for major construction." But she promptly repainted the "very flashy green" kitchen walls white to open up the space. She painted one wall in the attic-like space in a chocolate color to give depth to the room. And she stapled black-and-white IKEA fabric to her bedroom walls to function as instant wallpaper. "It's badly done," she said, with a laugh. "And it's not toile de jouy, but it's the same idea!" And she's looking forward to reorganizing the kitchen, including moving her new silver American-sized refrigerator out of the main space.
Géraldine designed the main living room around a painting above the sofa given to her by her mother, who is a brocanteuse, choosing the gray sofa and soft taupes to harmonize with the colors. The black and white bedroom started with a black neo-Baroque frame that hangs behind the bed. The decor is a mix of IKEA and inexpensive antiques, like an old pharmacist's storage cabinet given to her by her grandfather in the living room. Géraldine, who has spent a lot of time in the U.S. and hopes to move there next year, agrees that the old/new mix comes naturally to the French. "I always find in the U.S. that people want things to be perfectly matched," she said. "We don't have the same aesthetic here."
- 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