Produced by Lykke Foged
An architect’s parisian home turns design on its head with his playful take on creating a family space.
Who lives here: Architect Grégoire de Laforrest, his wife Stephanie, an interior architect; and their children, Petronille, 6; Auguste, 4; and Emile, 11 months.
Style of house: A classic early 20th-century apartment with three bedrooms, located on Paris’ Right Bank in the 11th arrondissement. The apartment was purchased in June 2011 and the family moved in immediately.
Timeline: The renovation took more than 12 months and was completed in September 2012.
Many architects talk about “bringing the outside in”, but French couple Grégoire and Stephanie de Lafforest have taken this expression literally with their inspired renovation of a 20th-century Parisian apartment. The couple’s 103-square-metre home was designed by Grégoire, an architect, to include ‘houses within the house’ – rooms that have been constructed to resemble individual homes including the ‘greenhouse’ kitchen; an artificial tree in the living area; and an entry that mimics a street setting. It’s a charming idea and one that carries through to the distinctive features of the apartment.
It took six months to acquire the necessary permits to make the changes they wanted, but that time ended up being a bonus. “During that period we had plenty of time to consider the details and our needs,” says Grégoire.
Seduced by the apartment’s generous proportions – twice that of their previous home – the couple decided to keep the high ceilings and separate the kitchen with a glass wall to maintain the light flowing through the rooms. “A custom-made glass wall can be quite expensive and slightly outside our budget,” says Grégoire. “Instead, we started looking for greenhouses and found one online, which we ultimately felt was a more interesting solution for us.” And this is where the idea of creating a ‘village’ began.
The load-bearing pillars in the entrance have been elegantly incorporated into the decor as part of the street layout, with houses side by side like a little village passage inside the home.
And while it looks whimsical, the design is also practical. “The house structures don’t take up more space than a wall would,” explains Grégoire, and it’s clear that this approach has created an entirely different space. The fact that these unique house structures and room partitions don’t connect with the high ceilings adds to the feeling of space. A good friend of the family makes artificial trees for airports and other public spaces, and Grégoire and Stephanie fell in love with the idea of having their own indoor tree. “During summer, we enjoy sitting in the shade of the tree and I love the way it complements the high ceilings beautifully,” says Grégoire.
The internal houses draw on the kitchen greenhouse solution, and were finished in various colours and elements giving them all
a unique look in order to create the feel of a small village. “We commissioned artist Alix Waline to paint a mural straight onto the wall to transition between the more private areas and communal ones, and playing on the idea of a village high street,” says Grégoire.
Stephanie is an interior architect and was involved in creating the home’s look, which was designed to suit their growing family (baby Emile was born just after these photographs were taken).
The white walls in the living area have been fitted with a long grey shelf that covers two walls, featuring panelling that extends to include storage nooks. The statement shelf provides an elegant way to store and display books, art and accessories.
Throughout the apartment is a solid oak floor with the boards laid at an angle to offset the straight forms of the building. Neutral tones, with a measured hit of yellow, tie the look together as a whole, as well as indicating the individual zones.
“We have lived here for a few years now and I can’t think of anything I would like to change. We enjoy the rooms, the location and the decor. It’s a perfect place to live,” says Grégoire.
For info on Grégoire’s work, visit gregoiredelafforest.com.
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