Paris, France and online
BHV stands for Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville. It's located across from the Hotel de Ville and is the second oldest department store in Paris. The store has seemingly everything, from clothing, toys and perfume to furniture, books and crepe pans.
Yesterday I was in Paris, which on its own is pretty fantastic. To make it even more memorable, I spent the afternoon at what I now consider to be, without a doubt, one of the greatest stores for DIY home designers and decorators ever. I'd read about it before and thought of it like some mythical decor nirvana, but nothing prepared me for the wonder that is located on the Rue de Rivoli — BHV. Here is a peek inside:
BHV stands for Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville. It is located across from the Hôtel de Ville and is the second oldest department store in Paris. This store has seemingly everything, from clothing, toys and perfume to furniture, books and crepe pans, but it is the all encompassing home project "etages" (floors) that really pulled me in...
Basement etage: Bricolage and 4ème étage : Home Decor
The basement "bricolage" section is an unbelievable treat for anyone who loves poking around in hardware stores (so, in other words, pretty much everyone). It includes just about anything and everything hardware related, all in one place. This is a true "you name it, they have it" one stop shop with amazing access for for urbanites, located in the heart of the city, with a metro stop (Hôtel de Ville) right there.
As I describe the bricolage etage, it could possibly sound like a Home Depot or something mundane like that, but it's not — the selection is vast. Instead of a small selection of choices in a huge space like a big box type retailer, this is a big selection in a relatively compact city store, which makes it both mesmerizing and jealous making. I would love to have a resource like this in Chicago.
Pictured above are just a few views of the myriad sections of the Bricolage: some surprisingly colorful tool belts, a really big selection of bells (?!?!), wooden feet and legs of all shapes and sizes, a castor-go-round, traditional (and plenty of not so traditional) house numbers, a wide range of colorful plexiglas, modern faucets, radiators, fireplace supplies. Keep in mind that these photos are just glimpses at small parts of each these sections; they go on and on.
After visiting the basement, I made my way up to the 4th etage for the home decor section which is essentially the mothership of DIY design project sources.
I really can't think of an equivalent shopping experience to this floor in the US. To access this array of project supplies here at home, I'd have to visit multiple specialty stores and most likely, do some shopping online, but, at BHV it's jampacked with the materials and supplies needed for just about any home decor project, all in one place. And again, just as on the hardware floor, its all about selection - instead of the choice of a few basic lampshade blanks, there are aisles of them in all shapes and sizes, same with curtain rods, and tassels and drawer pulls...its like the grownup decorators version of a candy store. Fabrics, wallpapers, paints, craft supplies, the list goes on and on and because it is all in one shop and right in front of you, it is easy to compare and coordinate and you can make informed choices about color and quality. And to make it even more all-encompassing, the price points seemed varied — I saw really basic and bargain priced materials right along with designer branded goods.
Following my afternoon spent wandering happily through the aisles all I have to say is 5 small words: Please, BHV, come to America!
• Post from Paris: The BHV
Images: Top:Kristen Hohenadel/Apartment Therapy, Gallery: Janel Laban