Big ideas and perfect proportions in a compact Parisian apartment | Interior designs

Big ideas and perfect proportions in a compact Parisian apartment |  Interior designs

WWhen interior designer Stephane Bidault first visited his apartment in Paris’s 10th arrondissement more than a decade ago, it had not been occupied for years. “It seemed like it had been somewhat abandoned,” he recalls. “It was in a disastrous state, completely broken up, with a lot of things broken.” In the basement there were three separate small rooms, which were not connected at all to the attic floor above. To see the latter, Bedo had to stick his head out through the trapdoor in the roof of the building’s common landing.

At the time, Bedo had just started working in interior design (he had previously worked in marketing and advertising) and the work he did was largely architectural. He linked the two floors together, inserting an eye-catching geometric steel staircase between the two. It also opened up the space almost completely. “I like it when there are as few restrictions as possible,” he says. “That’s why I didn’t install a handrail on the stairs or a guardrail on the mezzanine floor.” The only truly enclosed space is the built-in shower room. Aesthetically, it was a bit rough and industrially motivated.

The seating area features two wooden and leather chairs from the 1960s.
Suddenly: The seating area features two wooden and leather chairs from the 1960s. Photo: Stefan Julliard

Bedou lived there for two years, before moving out and loaning the apartment to a friend for the next eight years. In 2021, life’s vicissitudes brought him back, but before he returned to his residence again, he decided to redecorate with the help of his design partner, Julien Villeneuve. Until now, the duo has focused largely on residential interiors in Paris, but are now beginning to expand further afield in Normandy and the Algarve.

For his own apartment, Bedou enlisted Villeneuve as an aesthetic sounding board. “When you’re doing something for yourself, there are many more possibilities than if you’re working for a client, who will point you in a certain direction,” he says. “So, it was great to get Julian’s input and opinions.”

Open floor space with stairs
Outside the box: Walls have been removed to create one large room. Photo: Stefan Julliard

The compact apartment bears many hallmarks of their style, which they like to describe as “a kind of relaxed elegance.” They like to juxtapose precious and rough materials, paint rooms in neutral tones and add touches of color through furniture, fabrics and accessories. They love incorporating vintage elements into their decorative schemes.

Perhaps the most notable splash of luxury comes through the kitchen’s stunning backsplash, which combines two different pieces of marble – an expressive strip of Calacatta Violamarble, topped with a strip of Rosso Levanto that has been carved with a wave-like motif. “We wanted something a little unique that would give some visual interest to the space,” Bedo says. The window edges have also been covered in Calacatta Viola – one of a number of aesthetic echoes throughout the apartment. The curtains below the worktop are made from an Australian wool and linen blend from Dedar Fabrics. Meanwhile, the starting point for the color palette was the mint green dining table top, which Bidoux already had. He decided to mix it with earthy terracotta tones and touches of pink.

Stephane Bedou on the steel stairs.
Climbing: Stephane Bedou on the steel stairs. Photo: Stefan Julliard

The most complicated area to figure out was the corner directly under the stairs. “It was kind of dead, and we had about 15,000 different ideas on how to revive it, and none of them really worked for me,” Bedo says. For a while, they considered installing a retractable screen, but ended up installing a series of salmon-colored laminate panels. “The color is quite theatrical, and the finish also has the advantage of reflecting sunlight,” he adds.

On the whole, the furnishings came together more easily. The only exception was the carpet in the seating area. It took some time until they settled on the Gavrinis 3 model by legendary French designer Pierre Paulin, whose gentle curves contrast perfectly with the apartment’s angular architecture.

Mezzanine bedroom and hand-painted wallpaper.
Deep sleep: mezzanine bedroom and hand-painted wallpaper. Photo: Stefan Julliard

One of the materials found in most of Bidoux and Villeneuve’s interiors is rattan—an element that, for them, conjures images of vacation photos in Italy. This apartment is no exception. In the dining area, they chose a set of 1960s rattan chairs, reupholstered in a luxurious, hand-embroidered fabric from one of France’s leading textile houses, Pierre Frey. This dialogue between roughness and luxury is present throughout. A rope ceiling lamp – by Audoux Minet – in the dining area and a pair of 1960s safari-like leather and wood chairs in the seating area fall into the first category; The rosewood table under the stairs and the custom sofa (design by Bidoux and Villeneuve) with its ball feet are lacquered in the second.

Meanwhile, the mezzanine bedroom has a slightly tropical feel, thanks to hand-painted wallpaper with an oversized naive leaf motif from Zak+Fox. “We wanted something strong to give some presence to the space,” Villeneuve explains. “Just because you’re under a sloping roof you can’t make a statement.” A similar approach was taken in the small shower room, where the ceiling was painted in stripes to a striking effect. The vanity here is made of Rainforest Green marble and the faucets are from Tapwell.

The striped bathroom has a painted ceiling and a green marble countertop.
Clean look: painted striped bathroom ceiling and green marble countertop. Photo: Stefan Julliard

Both Bidoux and Villeneuve enjoy going out on a bit of a limb with artwork. “We don’t like them to be too identical,” Bedo emphasizes. “We like the idea that they can shake things up a little.” The large abstract painting by Christophe Bordarier in the living room is sure to catch the eye. But perhaps their favorite work was the small watercolor above a boy’s sofa by Canadian painter Chris Knight, which they found at an art gallery in Paris. “If Stephane hadn’t bought it here, I would have bought it for my house,” says Villeneuve. “For both of us,” Bedo adds.It was a crush!

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