269 Square Feet in Paris: 12 Design Ideas from a Shoebox Apartment Reinvented By Marianne Evennou
There are certain tricks Paris interior designer Marianne Evennou has made her own. She has a daring approach to color and always paints rooms in more than one hue: “colors,” she says, “are like musical notes—they’re all good, you just have to adjust them to make a nice melody.” And she never fails to find a wall that could benefit from an interior window. Every project she takes on is rigorously ordered and easy to identify as hers—and yet never fails to feel singular and inspiring.
A perfect example is this Saint Germain des Près apartment that she remodeled for Xavier and Chelo, a couple who are based in Barcelona but come to Paris frequently. A mere 25 square meters (269 square feet), it was a one-room shoebox that Evennou describes as something like a dorm: “the kitchen was in the entrance and all the activities had to take place in the same room.” Rather than leaving the apartment wide open, as one might expect given the lack of space, Evennou filled it with life and charm by compartmentalizing it. Here are 12 design lessons learned from this Paris pied-à-terre.
Photography by Stephan Julliard, courtesy of Marianne Evennou.
1. It’s worth carving out an entry.
Evennou figured out how to reorganize the setup by downsizing the bathroom: “This enabled me to change a one-room apartment into a real apartment with different spaces. We have now an entrance, a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom with a desk. The price for this reorganization is a smaller bathroom, but just as efficient as the previous one.”
2. Use bands of color to add depth and nuance.
All of the paints are from French line Ressource, which is now available in the US. Note the colored ceilings: “The ceiling is like the sky,” says Evennou. “Don’t you find that always seeing a white or gray sky is boring?
3. Downsize your kitchen components (but don’t skimp on storage).
4. Display beautiful objects and hide the rest.
5. Invite the eye to travel.
6. Combine built-ins with flexible furniture.
Another space saver: energy-efficient under-floor heating. Evennou added it before the chevron-patterned oak parquet floors were installed.
7. Multiple light sources make a room feel bigger.
8. A bathroom doesn’t have to be big to do its job.
“The tinier it is,” Evennou adds, “the more important it is to make it look nice by working on the small details, such as storage under the sink, a good light, a place to hang towels, and a niche in the shower for the soap and shampoo.” Here, Evennou went with a black-and-white theme. The tiles are Moroccan zellige with a border that she cleverly also used to frame the mirror. Note the linen window shade set off in black.
9. Rather than taking down walls create indoor vistas.
10. Stripes add order.
Note that for visual interest, the bands of paint color in the bedroom are the reverse of what they are in the living room: “‘This helps to both distinguish and link the two spaces,” Evennou told British House and Garden.
11. A desk can be slotted into a tiny spot.
12. Small rooms can be more exciting than open space.
Take a look at three more Marianne Evennou projects:
For small-space ideas, also see: