A 625-Square-Foot Haussmannian Apartment Filled With a Palette of Natural Tones

“From the street to the apartment’s interior, there’s a continuity of style,” Antoine says. Instead of simply covering over the pre-existing Haussmann elements, he chose to reinforce it. “We replaced moldings that the previous occupants had removed,” the architect explains. And the original fireplace now works too. Tonale also accentuated some typical features of Haussmann-era apartments, like, for example, by adjusting the layout along the street to take advantage of the four enfilade windows. “Before, there was a bedroom that made the living room smaller,” Antoine explains, “but we modified the plan to create circulation along the front of the building, between the living room and the bedroom, in a way that is typical of Haussmann apartments.” The main living area now occupies two-thirds of the apartment’s total surface area. To this Haussmann design feature, however, Tonale decided to “add a slightly more contemporary reading.” In the kitchen with its wood cabinets, the contemporary worktop goes almost unnoticed. The lines of the made-to-measure elements are minimal and pure, but overall, “we’re entering a Haussmannian universe,” Antoine states.

In terms of furnishings, Antoine explains that he “looked for coherence” in a variety of styles, a mix of rustic, contemporary Italian, Brutalist, and others. “There was this desire for an apartment that was elegant and Haussmannian, enhanced by the furniture, but above all the goal was to create a place where people feel good.” A few singular pieces are somewhat dramatic (the Togo sofa, the Barcelona armchair), but “nothing too much;” most of the furniture is secondhand. “We went for more rustic pieces with a certain heaviness.” All materials are in soft, natural tones, punctuated by colorful touches, “so that they are appropriate for the space and the wooden elements found in different places and in different styles are highlighted.”

 In the living room, an antique reupholstered Togo sofa (Michel Ducaroyle), a Barcelona armchair (Mies van der Rohe), a pair of vintage Plona armchairs (Giancarlo Piretti), an antique coffee table, and a Panthella floor lamp (Louis Poulsen). On the mantelpiece, a candlestick by Muller van Severen.

© Élise Helm

Wooden elements, which are found in most rooms, help to establish a common theme between spaces. “Wood isn’t necessarily noble, but it’s a warm material that speaks to everyone,” Antoine says. There are many different types and looks to the different woods found in the apartment. In the kitchen, the wood has a graphic look, “You can really see the grain,” the designer adds. The wood is warm and has been worked with a more or less dense varnish on the panels, in several shades that bring the composition to life. “These aren’t merely uniform surfaces; wood is a material that has many distinctive qualities.” The concrete worktop was cast and polished on site. Similar to wood, concrete has nuances and imperfections, with a slight porosity and traces of gravel appearing after polishing. The two materials unite, contrast, and complement each other. 

“Wood furnishings also echo the apartment’s parquet floor,” adds Antoine. “I find it interesting to have both the wooden floor, and then, on another level, other elements also in wood.” Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, living room, or bathroom, the warmth of wood also contrasts with metal elements—taps, handles, switches, bathroom basins, furniture, and light fittings, both chrome-plated or brushed, serve to create a common thread.  And, as Antoine points out, “It’s in the relationship between different scales that this project offers another interesting aspect.”


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