The place needed a lot of work. But Dario is a contractor, so that didn't scare them.
He and Manuela bought the spacious 19th-century apartment near Bastille -- where they live with their teenage daughters Louise, Marion and Jeanne -- eight years ago, having outgrown their rented space in Saint-Germain-des-Prés...
They renovated the apartment from top to bottom with help from Dario's team -- preserving the beautiful wood floors and period mouldings, but modernizing the eat-in kitchen, adding a second bathroom and carving out a fourth bedroom. They have built in storage everywhere -- a wine closet to the left of the fireplace, bookshelves throughout, a computer station in a large hallway that would have otherwise been wasted space.
Manuela is a professional decorative painter who paints trompe l'oeil murals on café ceilings and faux finishes furniture and boiserie. But they have kept the walls neutral to allow the beautiful bones of the apartment to shine through. A cozy low sofa in gray fabric from Caravane in the Marais, a whimsical knotted plastic light fixture and framed artwork by the girls gives the living room a warm family feel with a dose of understated Parisian chic.
- If you have an idea for a European house tour, write to Kristin at kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com