One of the beauties of Paris is that it's a "walking city." To tourists, that means it's much easier to take in the sights. But to residents, it's something a bit different — especially if you live in one of Paris's hilly neighborhoods. "Living in Montmartre requires a physical commitment that not everybody is willing to make," explains Alex Delaunay, founder of architecture and design firm Sabo Project. So when his company was tasked with carving out a new interior for a seventh-floor walk-up in the city's notoriously steep district where streets are sometimes connected by long staircases, he understood that the place had to be something really special: "Getting to this home in particular can sometimes feel like an achievement in itself," Delaunay half-joked.
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The client, a young fashion designer, wanted to make the 775-square-foot layout feel less chaotic and more spacious. The result combines the apartment's historical characteristics (exposed beams, gorgeously worn wood floors) with fresh and unapologetically fun details: a rainbow floor and hydroponic garden in the kitchen and a modern Jenga-like staircase leading to the mezzanine. Meaning, yes, there are even more steps to take. But clearly, it's all worth it. Take a look:
The living room showcases classic Eames pieces, from the coffee table to the iconic molded fiberglass rocking chair. Pops of bright color behind built-ins help to frame the space.
While the unique staircase leading to the mezzanine isn't something we'd attempt after a few glasses of wine, we admit: The alternating, Jenga-like steps make the space feel modern and almost sculptural.
In the kitchen, a vertical garden — which grows via both natural and artificial light — offers color against the stark-white walls (as well as delicious fresh herbs). The rainbow-like rubber floor strips elongate the rectangular kitchen. "The owner deals with color swatches on a daily basis and was immediately on board with the idea," said Delauney.
The kitchen was all about creating a surprising contrast. "The idea," explained Delaunay, "is to put in relationship the simple aesthetic of [a] highly functional kitchen with the brash colors of the flooring."
Aside from the usual challenges that come with a century-plus old space (dark corners, unnecessary walls), the firm needed to figure out ways to make the apartment more functional. This included creating built-ins that didn't add bulk.