Cover The living room is brought to life with cheerful furnishings like the Pierre Paulin Mushroom armchair and the Knoll Planter armchair

Located on the right bank of Paris, this Haussmann-style apartment is transformed by Frédéric Crouzet into a new living space with an elegant layout and a contemporary spirit

With more than three decades of interior design experience, French interior designer Frédéric Crouzet is no stranger to reimagining spaces, be it commercial properties or private residences. This particular Parisian apartment, however, has proven to be quite the challenge.  

The client, a property developer, had purchased the only apartment on the first floor of the building. She tasked Crouzet to divide the 3,444 sq ft apartment space into two separate apartments—one, which overlooks Rue Spontini in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, would serve as her personal living space that she shares with her daughter, and is pictured in this story. The other apartment, which overlooks Rue de Longchamp, would be placed on the market as a turnkey apartment for a buyer.  

Besides having to split one apartment into two independent ones, Crouzet’s task was made even more challenging as the original apartment was in very poor condition before the renovation. Botched repair works and outdated technical components resulted in the need for a complete overhaul.

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The client’s personal three-bedroom apartment, dubbed Le Spontini for its location, spans 1,614 sq ft. As with every project, Crouzet also factored in the client’s image. “The client is that of an elegant and discreet woman that loves art, literature and Paris, and who wanted an interior that’s elegant and decorated, but not ostentatious,” he recalls. The apartment had to be warm, soothing and contemporary, Crouzet describes, akin to a jewellery box. 

The designer sought to retain the original elements as much as possible. “The idea was to integrate and magnify certain remains of the old apartment, but within the framework of a new configuration—all while ensuring that the historical parts seem like they have never been moved and have always been present in the apartment,” he explains.

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Traditional details typical of the Haussmann-style building the apartment was situated in, such as the woodwork in the former reception area, the windows and fireplaces as well as certain ceilings with their cornices and mouldings, were restored. Pediments and architectural columns were refurbished and reintegrated to the passageway between the living and dining rooms.

The floors in the apartment however, had to be completely redone with screed and parquet. To help conceal the messy network of wires, Crouzet’s team also installed false ceilings—designed with grooves—in the bedrooms, hallway, bathrooms, and the kitchen. 

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The lounge area is an illuminating space with its light colour palette and large floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow sunlight to stream into the space throughout the day. “One of our studio’s credos is to use natural light to link spaces together; I find that this brings a poetic and soothing dimension to the room,” Crouzet explains. “The palette of light shades on the walls, such as the light grey that’s slightly tinged with blue, harmonises perfectly with the warm grey tones of the solid oak parquet flooring.” 

The formal dining area is seamlessly connected to the open-plan living space through an open doorway. Furnished with a large white marble Knoll Saarinen dining table that’s flanked by cosy light blue seats, the stunning area serves as an alternate space for the client to host guests. To make the transformation look effortless and intentional, Crouzet retained as much of the architectural elements as possible, such as the high ceilings and ornate decorative details.

No detail is too small for the designer, as evidenced by the thought he puts even for the bedroom doors. With a frame of hollow joints, the made-to-measure panel doors add a classic touch—with a contemporary twist, courtesy of the dark, bluish grey paint.  

The bedrooms are a continuation of the timeless elegance found throughout the home. The owner’s suite, which comprises the master bedroom as well as a dressing room and bathroom, was Crouzet’s favourite space to design. Soft colours, along with a mix of textures from the soft carpet, woven textiles and green lacquered wood wardrobe doors, create a calm foil for the tranquil atmosphere. 

“It was important that these spaces had to be soothing, soft and feminine with a restful atmosphere,” explains the designer. “All the spaces here communicate with each other, with sliding doors allowing one to either isolate oneself or to open these spaces to the other rooms of the apartment, to take advantage of the different perspectives and light.”

Each of the apartment’s three bathrooms also feature White Carrera marble, selected for its striking elegance and luxury. Amalgamated with other materials like copper veneer and black sandstone tiles, the material palette brings tactility to the bathrooms whilst infusing a modern touch.

Details such as the locksmithing and the frames in the master bathroom are also extremely important, highlights Crouzet, as they bring a form of rigour and graphically punctuate the spaces.

When it comes to the challenges of the project, the designer is candid. “Designing two apartments instead of one—and having to split up both apartments from the same original property—is a perilous exercise and much more complex than it seems in terms of work and realisation,” he shares. “Moreover when the apartment to be divided is old and in very poor condition.”

But as challenging as the project was, Crouzet is extremely satisfied with the end result. “I took great pleasure in redesigning the spaces. I really liked bringing everything together, visualising the spaces, and enjoying them thanks to the different perspectives,” he reflects. “This is the reason why I like to create openings such as sliding doors. I also enjoy the creative push and bringing a strong identity to certain elements, in particular the doors and the woodwork.”

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