Before and After: This Dark, Dated 550-Square-Foot French Apartment Was Completely Transformed into a Bright Home
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Name: Agathe Corbet, founder of Ama Studio, an interior design studio working on projects across Canada, France, and Australia; my husband, Jeremy Corbet; and our cat, Moustache
Location: Nantes, France
Type of home: One-bedroom apartment
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owned
My husband and I purchased this apartment in 2018 as an investment property without ever imagining living in it ourselves! We were living in Australia at that time and did not even see the apartment in person. It was a great investment property to rent out to a student but had a very poor layout that made it feel much smaller than it actually was and definitely did not work for us as a couple. With its multiple layers of orange wallpaper, polystyrene ceiling tiles, and gray vinyl flooring, it was also quite outdated!
We moved back to France in September 2021 and decided to live in the apartment and undertake a project that had been close to my heart for a long time: being my own client and carrying out a complete renovation ourselves! It was an opportunity for me to take design risks that are not possible when working for clients and to learn how to do the work myself, which now makes communication with contractors much easier when I’m on-site for clients’ projects. I learned how to install floorboards, build partition walls, lay tiles, install a kitchen, create custom millwork, and much more.
The renovation has been pretty wild, as we’ve done the entire renovation ourselves while working full-time, which meant we had to sleep in the kitchen for nearly two months while the living room and bedroom were being renovated!
Apartment Therapy Survey
My style: My style is timeless, warm, and minimalist, but never sterile. I aim to create interiors that are contemporary and sophisticated, yet relaxed and approachable. Earthy color palettes, rich textures, natural materials, and organic shapes are all parts of my signature aesthetics.
Inspiration: I am a huge travel lover, and travels are my biggest source of inspiration. I’ve traveled across 40 countries and lived in six different countries over four continents. I feel particularly inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi aesthetics and by the Mediterranean architecture.
Favorite element: My favorite part about our renovated home is the curved wall between our living room and bedroom. I have a true passion for curved and organic shapes; they add a lot of softness to rooms that are usually made of square angles. To me, an interior should be warm and provide comfort, and that’s exactly what rounded shapes do. This rounded wall was a real challenge, as my husband and I were doing the work ourselves and everyone around us said it was going to be impossible, but I knew it would add a lot of value to the apartment! We watched some tutorials, read a few blogs, and although it took much longer than making a straight wall, we made it happen! I’m really happy with the result and I would do it again without hesitation!
Biggest challenge: The layout of the rooms was not functional, but I knew there was potential to make it much more welcoming for a couple. Due to the small size of the apartment, every square foot had to be carefully considered, so I spent a lot of time thinking about the best possible layout on a 3D design software to make sure I maximized every corner of this tiny apartment.
By moving the partition wall between the bedroom and the living room, we were able to create a living room and dining room that looked much bigger and brighter, while adding a spacious walk-in closet in the bedroom. The curved wall between the bedroom and living room helped to maximize the space in the living room without creating an awkward corner in the bedroom. This wall adds a lot of character and softness to our home.
PAINT & COLORS
- Entire apartment — SIMAB “Lunicoat Noix de Coco”
- Runner rug — H&M Home
- Wall hooks — Antique store find in Sydney
- Limpet door knobs — The Society Inc
- SÖDERHAMN sofa — IKEA
- Every day linen natural sofa covers — Comfort Works
- Open country photographic print — Kara Rosenlund
- Travertine coffee table — Facebook Market Place
- Beni Ourain Moroccan rug — Etsy
- BESTA TV bench — IKEA
- Lake drawer pulls — The Society Inc
- Thando wall sconce — The Dharma Door
- Terrycloth armchair — Zara Home
- Antique gold mirror — This is a gift I got from my grandfather for my 11th birthday. At that time I hated it, but I’m now really glad I kept it!
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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