Fabienne and Kobe's Tranquil Over-the-Tracks Abode

House Tour

Name: Fabienne Séveillac & Kobe Van Cauwenberghe
Location: La Chapelle, Paris, France
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months (rented)

Thanks to their seventh story walk-up, Fabienne and Kobe are in excellent aerobic shape — a benefit for most, but especially for two musicians who often find themselves holding a sung note for inordinate lengths of time, or boldly scurrying around the neck of a guitar. Their top-floor flat has other advantages as well, not least among them, the extraordinary views.

In fact, gazing out Fabienne and Kobe's beautiful French windows is an activity in itself. Overlooking the tracks that flare out from the Gare de l'Est train station in northern Paris, the apartment offers an excellent vantage point from which to watch the trains coming in from places like Belgium, where Kobe, a guitarist, hails from.

Three tall windows span the main room, a nice wide space that's perfect for social gatherings. Hints of mauve and magenta add subtle panache to the living room's serene desert hues, while the deep crimson of a dining room wall enhances the apartment's cozy, romantic ambiance. You'll also notice little aspects of New York City here and there. Souvenirs from the couple's time as students in New York City hang on the walls or entice from the book shelves.

Textures of stone, wood, and cloth combine in elements like the curtains Fabienne made from her great-grandmother's hand-embroidered sheets, and a corner bookcase embellished with soft pebbles (courtesy of a former tenant). A mishmash of chairs add character around the dining room table where Fabienne presents one of her other passions — cooking. When the mezzo-soprano isn't rehearsing for an upcoming Sound Initiative concert with Kobe in the apartment's second bedroom-turned music studio, she's in her kitchen, which is big by Paris standards, skillfully preparing delicious meals from ingredients collected from the Middle Eastern, African, and French markets not far from her home. They're not the Park Slope Food Coop, where Fabienne packaged cheeses during her time in New York (a coveted member shift), but they'll do.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic.

Inspiration: Friends' places, trips to foreign cities, flea markets.

Favorite Element: The light and the possibility for us to practice our music pretty much anytime, as we live on the top floor.

Biggest Challenge: The stairs!! (6th/US 7th floor without elevator, sooo Paris).

What Friends Say: French friends say 'it's huge', Belgian friends say 'how tiny and cozy!'

Biggest Embarrassment: Those stairs!

Proudest DIY: The book and CD shelves, and the kitchen shelves. We needed extra room for books and CDs and I used the empty spaces to build custom shelves.

Biggest Indulgence: Our fancy Moulinex food processor — made to last 30 years hopefully!

Best Advice: Don't try too hard!

Dream Sources: Flemish designer Jan Pauwels' lamps, and contemporary lighting in general.

Resources of Note:

FURNITURE

    • Sofa: Habitat
    • Coffee table, dining table: Fabienne's parents DIY
    • Corner antique table: Fabienne's family (all French people get one like this from their family)
    • Chairs: mostly vintage (Thonet from Kobe's family; white French school chair picked up in the street)
    • Nightstand in the bedroom Fabienne found on the street.

ACCESSORIES

    • Vintage mirror and white lantern found on the street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

LIGHTING

    • Madura, Ikea, Habitat

RUGS & CARPETS

    • I brought the living room rug from Azrou, Middle Atlas, Morocco

WINDOW TREATMENTS

    • Fabienne transformed some antique family sheets her great great grandmother embroidered into curtains for the living room.

ARTWORK

    • NY drawings (living room and music room): Aline Zalko

Thanks, Fabienne & Kobe!

(Images: Celeste Sunderland)

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