AT Europe: Chez Paul

AT Europe: Chez Paul

Kristin Hohenadel
Nov 19, 2007

Paul didn't move to Paris to write a novel, like so many would-be Hemingways.

Yet that's exactly what he ended up doing after the law firm that transfered him here from San Francisco almost 10 years ago fired him. His first novel, Design Flaws of the Human Condition, was written at a Singer sewing machine table desk in a converted maid's room off the kitchen in a top floor flat that he rents on the Place des Vosges.

The 53m2 apartment is a suite of irregularly shaped rooms that includes a bedroom, living room, eat-in kitchen and study. "I have this beautiful apartment, and I spend all my time in here," Paul says over a cup of tea at his kitchen table for two, painted in red and yellow stripes. His study has a small pull-out couch for inevitable guests and writing breaks, and a small bookshelf with red and yellow binders. "French people are obsessed with the combination of red and yellow," he says. "Things that are disastrous go into yellow binders; things that are truly disastrous go into red."

The rest of the apartment consists of a cozy living room with a fireplace and a cashmere-covered couch that he calls "a mistake I'm not planning to make again. It might as well be made out of Swiffer for all the dust it attracts," upholstered chairs, and a round dining room table that is folded in half and stored in a convenient alcove in the corner when not in use. The bedroom is spacious and has its own fireplace as well. "I'm colorblind, so my sisters don't usually let me do things like buy clothes and decorate," Paul says. "But I'm happy with the way the bedroom turned out."

So what are the design flaws of his nevertheless charming Parisian apartment, that was renovated shortly before he moved in three years ago? For one thing, you have to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom, an oddity that points out how frequently Parisian renovations of old buildings do not go the extra mile. "At least the toilet has its own room," he says.

He bought a pine chest of drawers painted in a faux marble trompe l'oeil at the Clignancourt flea market. Sconces framing a poster of a matador are from LeRoy Merlin. Of his choice of art in the bedroom, he says: "You're not really gay unless you have a vintage Joan Crawford ad for Pepsi on the wall."

- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com

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