Like many Americans, Steven and Garth love Paris and fantasized about having their own place here. So five years ago, they bought a 50-square-meter (538-square-foot) two-room apartment in a 1780 building in St.-Germain-des-Prés, the 6th arrondissement neighborhood that has long been a magnet for American expats.
They removed old wallpaper, painted walls in rich red and mustard yellow, enlarged and organized the walk-in closet, renovated the bathroom using handmade Moroccan tiles and added cabinets in the kitchen...
They bought the dining table and chairs from the Clingnancourt flea market and the handmade trunk ("a real splurge") at Goyard on the rue St. Honoré. Deciding that a couch would eat up too much of their compact space, they opted for a pair of mismatched armchairs -- one from an upholstery store at the Viaduc des Arts near the Bastille and a kilim chair and ottoman found at a shop on nearby rue Jacob.
"We have a large house in California that is airy and open with a garden and lots of artisan-made furniture," says Steven. "Paris, with its deep rich colors and silk drapes and antiques, is more, well, old-European in its look."
They visit six times a year, loaning the place out to friends and family when they're in California. Steven runs his own business and works from his laptop while in Paris. But he recently bought a tiny room at the bottom of the stairs which he is renovating into a home-away-from-home office and guest room. We'll check back once it's finished to see the result.
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristin.hohenadel @ gmail . com