In Dreamy Bordeaux, Former Maids Quarters Are Now a Plywood Paradise

Photos by Agnès Clotis
plywood built ins
credit: Agnès Clotis

Located on the top floor of a stone building in the historic center of Bordeaux, a port city famous for being the center of France's celebrated wine-growing region, a small service room originally used by housekeepers was transformed into a modern apartment. It was a personal project from architect Michel Hardoin of A6A. "We drew everything and partly completed the work ourselves," Hardoin said.

As with most French construction projects, there were challenges. "The two biggest difficulties were the limited budget of 30,000 euros and the fact that the flat was on the fourth floor, which was very difficult to get the materials to," Hardoin said. Solutions included IKEA furnishings and custom creations. But it's the defining material of the 500-square-foot space that makes it clever, both aesthetically and functionally: pine plywood.

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credit: Agnès Clotis

Originally built as housing for maids (very traditional in old French buildings where the top floor was reserved for staff), Hardoin and his girlfriend worked diligently to remove existing partitions for a more spacious layout. The team used pine plywood to create adjustable platforms and partitions, which make the space more customizable.

kitchen
credit: Agnès Clotis

Hanging pendant globe lights in the kitchen come from IKEA. A ladder leads to a small mezzanine that functions as a guest room for friends.

kitchen
credit: Agnès Clotis

Here's proof you can make an IKEA kitchen look sleek: The stovetop, sink, and faucet are all from IKEA, as is the island, which was further customized by the designers. A waxed concrete countertop adds an industrial touch among the warmer-toned materials.

kitchen
credit: Agnès Clotis

Getting the work done on time was a major challenge for the designer-clients who were both working on other projects while undergoing this project. "We designed and modeled the layout before adapting it on site. Part of the design process was done on site during construction," Hardoin said.

dining room
credit: Agnès Clotis

The existing stone wall was left untouched, adding an element of old-world charm to the room. White paint from Leroy Merlin was used on the walls to add brightness to the room.

dining room
credit: Agnès Clotis

The floors are original to the apartment, maintaining that mix of old meets new.

living room
credit: Agnès Clotis

An IKEA sofa was adapted to fit within the custom construction in the living room. The dining chairs are from Habitat, and the coffee table was handmade by Hardoin.

living room
credit: Agnès Clotis

A long platform runs along one side of the apartment, offering additional storage.

bedroom
credit: Agnès Clotis

A platform surrounding the bed can function as a night table, library, and a space to display houseplants. Mexican art hangs above the bed.

bathroom
credit: Agnès Clotis

In the bathroom, a bathtub was built before the team began forming the wooden walls.


Kate Santos

Kate Santos

After interning at Dwell magazine in San Francisco, Kate began writing about arts, design and culture for other national publications. She is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.