Decorating a Parisian apartment with color!

Coucou,

It has been awhile since I have posted an update on our Parisian apartment. I have gotten so many compliments from visitors who tell me that our place looks so LA. Yet, I didn’t plan to go for a Californian vibe intentionally but I suppose you can’t take the LA outta ya girl.

Searching for an apartment in Paris can be as competitive as getting into an Ivy League university. There is so much demand and very few places available within an affordable price range so many people have to make compromises when apartment hunting. We were in the same boat so when we saw our place, I had to look past the messy girl who was living here at the time. We needed a place fast and we were only planning to lease for one year so we weren’t too picky over minor details. For example, I really wanted our place to have ornate crown molding and a quintessentially French chandelier. Well, the light fixtures in our place are pretty much non existent and we have basic crown molding with just the tiniest amount of French charm for me to be happy. I asked our property manager if they had time to paint a fresh coat of white but they said we could paint it ourselves, at our own expense. Another reason we chose our place (besides the location and the size) was it came fully furnished.

I should say I feel very lucky to even have white-ish walls because many apartments we looked at were very orange, red and lime green. We were happy we didn’t have to spend a fortune on basic pieces of furniture and I can’t believe the Maison Chateau Rouge x Monoprix home line released the same week we moved into our place. I bought many accessories to add a much needed punch of color. I love the light we get from our gorgeous floor to ceiling windows and the layout works perfectly for our family of three. Antz and I still can’t believe we got this place in our dream location!

There are two choices when renting in Paris, furnished or unfurnished. The latter is not what you may be used to in the US. An unfurnished apartment means there is no kitchen. In most cases that means no sink, no appliances and no cabinetry. Oui, you will find an empty room with pipes coming out of the wall. However, a furnished apartment is equipped with everything you would need down to your dishes, forks, spoons and knives. Our apartment had obviously been rented by students due to the choice of furniture and the wear and tear of the inventory. We happened to end up with some Asian style pieces that I would never in a million years choose for our place but I knew I could tolerate it for a short term stay. We moved in under the impression it would only be for a year and then we would move back in our lovely, newly renovated house in LA. So we packed away a majority of their kitchen items and the linens and bought our own basics from good ole’ Ikea. If I knew we would be staying here permanently from the start, I would have invested in higher quality dishes and cookware but we shipped as much of our things from LA as we could fit in a shipping pod, what we bought is fine. Poor Antz had to account for hundreds of items from a list I sent him and sort them by what to ship to Paris, what to store at my Mom’s house in California and what to sell or donate. When it got down to the wire, not everything I wanted made it to Paris (I really wish our Christmas decorations were shipped but we really have no room to store them) and more items ended up being donated than I would have liked but he had such a huge undertaking, I can’t complain about the results. Thanks sweetheart!

So our pod shipped from LA in September and didn’t arrive here in Paris until late January. It took the longest around-the-world journey but we are grateful it arrived in relatively great shape. During the months of waiting, I would have panic attacks that our ship would be invaded by pirates (they still exist right?) or a giant rogue wave would knock our container off the ship. I know, I watch too many movies but my life’s precious treasures were packed in that box so I imagined the worst case scenario. Only two pieces were damaged during the move.

I still don’t know how Antz and I managed to unload 60 boxes into our place in less than an hour but I will admit that I could have kissed our building’s elevator that day.

So, after a year of living practically out of suitcases and decorating our apartment without spending much money, we were finally able to start making the place more like our permanent home. I relied on covering the bad furniture with as many colorful textiles and accessories as I could.

Our apartment was quite bare bones on the day we moved in. There was an inventory of all the items and furniture the apartment came with. I was so giddy about moving into our version of a Parisian pied-à-terre, I barely paid any attention to the condition of their old stuff. As soon as the rental company girls left I literally threw all the stuff into boxes and shoved it into our only tiny closet.

We went from having three closets and a two car garage to this one walk-in closet for all our storage. It’s a miracle we are able to figure out where to put everything. When we first moved in, we could tell the last tenants did not clean at all. Guys, I’m not even joking there was a cheap TV that wasn’t plugged in attached to a freaking VCR! They also had a Sony radio set up that did not work. Too bad I didn’t bring my old CD collection with me.

I can’t stand the couch that our place came with but that’s what you get with a furnished apartment. I threw some blankets and pillows over it and try to ignore it’s existence. The bare walls made me a little crazy so I put up my Rifle Paper Co banner just for something to look at. I had to use the hooks that were already in the wall so it says “jolie maison” which means pretty house.

Our hallway/breakfast bar is a convenient space for Liv to do her homework and a crafting area but there isn’t much I could do with those contemporary stools. They are not very comfortable but nothing else really fits in the awkward space and if I replace them I would have to leave the new stools in the apartment when we move.

The showerhead in the bathroom was broken. There is no hope for this tiny bathroom. We scrub it clean as best we can and I added a few bins to store my hair and beauty products. The only redeeming quality it has is the towel rack which is lovely in the winter.

It still hasn’t been properly repaired but at least Antz found a way to prop it up so we don’t have to hold the showerhead (when I see bathrooms with a handheld shower, I’m always curious to how they manage to bathe like that). I was super annoyed that whoever designed the tile in the bathroom for chosing a beige grout that appears to look dirty. I bought a cool shower curtain from Etsy but we can’t figure out how to install a curtain rod around that useless glass partition. I also couldn’t find any bleach to properly scrub and sanitize the tiny bathroom. We even had a maid come in to clean but this room needs a complete renovation.

Our living room is comfy spot (not you couch!) Lola loves to sunbathe next to the windows. I am so happy Antz brought some of his artwork because it really transforms the space. The only two pieces of furniture we shipped was our gray armchair and a bedside table. Our books are everywhere but I don’t mind books as clutter. It gives us a reason to look at them more.

The kitchen is the most eifficient room of the apartment. We are happy that we were able to fit most of my dishes and kitchen stuff in the little space. Antz brought my crockpot and waffle maker from LA but we have only used the waffle maker so far. I’m scared to plug in the crockpot with an American adaptor because… fire. I bought the cutest Smeg tea kettle for Christmas although Liv is the only regular tea drinker in the family. Our egg rug is still holding on almost fourteen years later.

I will say, the best investment we made in our place was replacing the washing machine. I can’t wrap my head around the French people who dry their clothes on racks. We had to do it for a few months and I almost went crazy with having to iron everything and our towels would never fully dry. We spent almost €40 everytime we went to the laundromat to dry our clothes. We bought a dual washer/dryer and although it takes forever (the French do not like wasting too much water so every appliance is eco-friendly) it’s a million times better than going to the laundromat.

Antz works in an office space in Liv’s room which is great because if he has a work call, he closes the French doors and shuts the curtains. We were lucky that the last tenant left an office chair so we didn’t have to buy a new one.

Here is the before and after of Liv’s room. This was my favorite room to decorate. Eventually I want to change out the mirror to a more French style.

Her room looked like this for the first year before we got our container from Los Angeles. Now her room looks like this. All the colors!!

It was easy to inject color in Liv’s room. We bought some yarn from the lovely craft supply store La Droguerie and Antz and Liv made these colorful pom poms for her Ikea lamp shade. The Thundercat figures are from Antz office, he has many more toys and collectibles but there was no space to display them here so they are in our storage shed at my Mom’s. We stacked her books in front of her fireplace because we have no bookshelf space. I bought her blanket from Anthropologie last Christmas. It was drama getting that package and the import fees were insane but I think totally worth it. I was happy to replace the broken bedside table with a white table from Ikea that just fit the tight space. Now her Miffy lamp has a home. Her grandma sent some gifts last Christmas and the whale nightlight fits right in.

I bought this gumball rack from Domino when we still lived in LA but I never had enough wall space to use it. It fit perfectly next to her armoire and she has a place for her cute bags.

There wasn’t a curtain in Liv’s room so I used my beloved Rifle Paper Co tablecloth and it has worked well for the past two years. The owl lamp is from Ikea. Olivia is going through a Japanese kawaii phase (check out her tiktok) so she has requested a makeover of her room for her birthday this year. I have started ordering new bedding/accessories and I’m excited to give her room a new, fun look. There is a shop here called Hema that has really affordable items.

Our bedroom has made a big color change too. I wasn’t able to pack to all my bedding from our house in LA so I have been taking advantage of the soldes (sales in January) from my favorite shop in Paris, Merci. I want every color of the rainbow in their linens.

I liked the minimalist design of our bedroom at first, however, not having a headboard wasn’t comfortable. We also lacked storage. I couldn’t take the empty walls and shelves much longer. I ordered a new bed frame that has storage inside to hold all my bedding and a larger mattress.

I am not an interior designer, I just like to be surrounded by pretty things. I have so many challenges like hiding Lola’s huge litterbox or finding places to store all our suitcases, so I use bins and crates for everything. I found these adorable, collapsible bins in pastels colors.

These bins now hold my clutch purses, my camera accessories and I got some bigger ones for Liv’s craft supplies and Antz felting wool. I am obsessed with them.

Well, tomorrow is my birthday which also happens to be the first day of spring. We are on day four of a fifteen day quarantine in France so we spent the entire day doing some major spring cleaning. Since we are stuck inside our apartment for another week or so, I put our new spring bedding out and it has cheered me up so much!

Thanks for checking in and I hope everyone stays safe and positive during this tough time.

a tout!

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Our House Tour on Apartment Therapy

Hi There,

During the last few years we have done quite a lot of work to our house. I tried to photograph how beautiful everything turned out but I couldn’t capture it the way a professional could. I visited my friend Samantha’s lovely house and she told me her friend Marisa Vitale was a photographer and I should reach out to her. I was hoping to hire Marisa to photograph our house (since we are leaving it for a year) when she said she wanted to shoot it for Apartment Therapy!! I have been a fan of AT for years but I never thought our house was sophisticated enough to be featured. We had to fill out a questionnaire and one of the questions was “How do you describe your design style?” This was the hardest for me to answer because all that came to mind is “This is the home of a thirteen year old girl after she saw Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette!” I somehow managed to come up with a more adult answer but I cannot grasp how far we have come with this little house of ours. I went through phases of loving our house, completely hating it (mostly due to horrible neighbors across the street and bad water pressure) and then falling head over heels in love again. The bright and colorful way Marisa captured our home makes me so happy. I wish I could share all 206 photos with you because they are all my favorites but I will narrow them down best I can. Thank you Sam for connecting me with Marisa! Thank you Marisa for being so kind, talented and fun to hang with. Thank you Apartment Therapy for showcasing all our hard work and sacrifice to the world. I am honored to have our home among many other interiors I admire. Yay, here is our 1923 California bungalow home…

These are some of the outtakes of our family photos. How am I wearing heels and Antz is still taller than me? This one is my fave of the bunch.

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Apartment Therapy used this one, which has my signature look at the sky weird thing I do and Liv almost has her eyes closed. It definitely represents us best.

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In the living room there was much debate over which slipcover to put on the couch. We both agreed the blue slipcover was too much color and the white would make the pillows and our throw pop.

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Our lovely Rifle & Paper Co Marie Antoinette portrait never gets shown because I rarely photograph that part of the room.

Physiognomy by Mark Seliger was one of the first “grown up” books I ever purchased about 12 years ago. I finally have cool coffee table books displayed on my coffee table!

I’m super stoked about our new lady llama! Antz first saw her at Dotter on York Ave and I knew she would be perfect for an empty space on our wall. Everything came together perfectly.

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We had the prints made from Artifact Uprising.

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Don’t you think llamas are the new elephants?

It’s hard to show a good shelfie because the couch is in the way but at least you can see our new plant from Folia Collective. We were in Pasadena one night getting ice cream when we found this cute, tiny plant shop. I almost didn’t go in because it look terribly expensive but I was surprised. The most expensive plant in the store was $38! We got called out in the comments of our house tour for the sad looking fiddle fig on our porch but little do they know how long we lived with zero plants in our house.

I wish I took photos inside but the shop is super tiny and there were so many customers.

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We bought seven new plants for the house and guess what guys? They are still green and alive months later!!

Now let’s talk about that gorgeous bouquet! I knew I wanted something extra special for that vase. It’s very wide so I knew it had to be substantial. I have always admired IrisBarryBlooms on Instagram so this was the perfect occasion to have something customized for our home. My only request was very colorful and fun, and Michelle is the sweetest. She exceeded my expectations and really nailed our color palette. Thank you so much for creating this showstopper! Check out her website here.

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That’s right, we have a dining room, library, music room and office all in this one space! #smallhousesolutions Olivia’s piano teacher (our awesome next door neighbor Lisa) uses cute stickers to help Liv remember her finger placement.

And just to the right, we have our bar. Our old bar was a clunky DIY. I’m telling you, house design is mostly trial and error. We lived with the same furniture for so long, we had no idea we could find something functional, affordable and pretty.

c. our living room

This is the same space full of Earthy tones back in 2009! Why were sticks in a vase a trend?

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Now into the kitchen. I love that after five years it still looks modern and fresh. We haven’t changed much in there except a new set of pots and pans I got on sale for Christmas. In the future, I may change out the white subway tile backsplash into something more colorful.

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If I could have one dream item, I would love a La Chanche range in Rose Quartz. They are French and so fancy I would be embarrassed to cook my Top Ramen noodles on it. Sadly, they cost as much as a small car.

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New plant and macramé holder alert!

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I don’t think I have shown our hallway/art gallery on my blog before. I have no idea how to photograph such a narrow and dark space but Marisa used her tripod and got it all.

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I am super sad we aren’t taking any of his artwork to Paris with us. However, they are too big to pack and I wouldn’t want to risk them getting damaged in our luggage. I already loaned the giant portrait of Olivia to my Mom to keep at her house (I hope I get it back!)

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Did I mention we had our bedroom painted during the October break? Antz and I were going to paint it ourselves but laziness and procrastination set in so we hired FIVE dudes to paint this little room! Really, we hired one handyman but he showed up with all these guys. Oh! Next time a dude at the paint store tries to sell you the fancy “one coat” premium paint, don’t fall for it. We were told one gallon would cover the green and the trim in this room but ended having to buy 4 gallons (which meant 3 more trips to the hardware store and $200 more dollars). As fun and colorful as the old bedroom looked, I think it made the space feel cluttered and I wanted to create a more streamlined look for the small space.

It took me awhile to adjust to the all-white room. I love white, it’s my favorite color to wear but it felt so cold and sterile before we added the artwork and accessories. I wish we had the budget for a new ceiling fan but we couldn’t find anything we liked and we didn’t want to pay an electrician.

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I have never connected with an artist (other than Antz) that gets me like Carissa Potter Carlson. I have been super stressed about our move to Paris that this Things Will Work Out print has been my daily mantra.

Those striped brogues have been in my closet for months because they are so pretty I don’t dare wear them outside. Well, last week I finally gave in and wore them to our visa appointment for good luck. I’ll let you know how it went in my next post!

 

Liv’s room was the only room we only needed to straightening up. Once a month I attempt to get rid of stuff she has outgrown or no longer plays with (she’s currently in a Nintendo Switch and iPad phase) however, she swears she still plays with everything so I haven’t made much progress. Next week she is going to a sleepover and most of her toys are going into storage to make room for whoever ends up in our house.

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I don’t think I’ll ever take down her baby mobile her Dad made before she was born.

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I am grateful that I have these photos to remember her little girl room before her next tween remodel. I’m curious to what color she’ll choose next. I’m kinda over the pink.

Lastly our newly renovated bathroom. The least loved room in the house is now the most loved. I can’t stop staring at this stunning artwork Antz painted for me while we were visiting my Mom. I am the luckiest girl in the world to be married to this talented guy!

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I bought that basket from Anthropologie to use as a hamper for our wet towels but Antz said it would make a nice planter for our new guy. He fit in perfectly.

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I love her so much!!

So that’s our house tour. I am kicking myself because we spent all day with lovely Marisa and the only photo I took of her was while she was working. Marisa, thank you so much! I owe you a big hug and all our gratitude.

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Au revoir!