Let there be light. When homeowner and interior designer Alexandra Magne and her spouse Laurent saw this apartment, they immediately knew what they wanted: to let the entire space breathe freely again, resculpt the layout, clear out the perspectives and invite the light in. "We were already living in the same building, but we were looking for a bigger place, so when the upper floor went up for sale, we immediately knew that it had the potential we needed," Alexandra says.
With the help of architect Alexandre Sfintescu, they spent five months reconfiguring and modernising the two 60-square-metre apartments, and ended up with a charming duplex with personality.
Much of the home's wonderful, eclectic aesthetic is down to Alexandra's vision and taste. The interior designer, passionate about 1950s vintage and industrial furniture, sourced a fascinating mélange of tailor-made furniture, flea market finds and heirlooms. She tirelessly devoted her time to devising a warm and welcoming atmosphere for each room, ensuring that they retained their individual charm while complementing the home's décor as a whole.
She has balanced the leisurely feel of informal living with a carefully considered and diverse mix of colours and graphic prints.
Colour plays an important role in the interior design. "We like being surrounded with inspiring wallpapers, vivid colours and graphic patterns. We used white to accentuate space in the kitchen, darker tones in the living spaces and bedrooms to create more intimacy," Alexandra says, adding that the predominant white and dark grey tones were crucial to the overall aesthetic. "Colours and patterns make me happy, but not if they are too many or take over. I still need simplicity and a functional home," she says.
Nevertheless, she has carefully incorporated bright pops of colour throughout the duplex. Bursts of sunshine yellow - in the form of two armchairs, accessories and an upstairs wall panel - lend the home a happy, calming warmth. One of the children's bedrooms is coloured a soothing, cool teal. Alexandra also painted the dining table red. This bold crimson hue contrasts with the black and white bamboo wallpaper while accentuating the table's minimalist silhouette.
The designer enjoys playing with graphic prints and touches of colour, as they can change with the seasons and her whims and desires. Playing with these elements also allows her to change the atmosphere and aesthetic of the apartment without overhauling the furniture.
It's no surprise that she wants to keep major changes to a minimum, as it took quite a bit of work to combine and reconfigure the two apartments.
Both levels had to be rethought and redistributed. "The upper floor hadn't been renovated for 30 years; so much more had to be done on this floor than on the first floor, where we had been living since 2004," Alexandra explains.
Everything was taken up for renovation, from the partitions and plumbing to the electricity and windows, and the entire layout of the combined apartments - save the ground-floor bathroom, which was kept in its original place - had to be remodelled.
"The kitchen now opens on both sides into the dining room and living room, offering an open layout and perspective from one end of the apartment to the other," she says. "It also allows us to cook while entertaining friends and family."
Many of the old partitions were removed to open up the space, maximising the light and flow of the apartment. To gain some height, the couple suppressed the false ceiling of the upper floor, which was hiding well-preserved oak beams. She replaced the old kitchen space with a bedroom, and connected the two floors with a metal staircase, ensuring that there was a clear line of sight between the two levels from the living room.
Here, the 10-metre-high ceiling and large windows flood the home with light, creating a peaceful, sunlit space.
It's now the perfect home for Alexandra, Laurent and their children - Jules, seven; Louise, five; and Achille, one - to relax in. The designer, who usually finds herself wanting for more, confides that she is perfectly satisfied with her home and sees her family living there for a long time.
Story Tina Hom/ Living Agency
Editing Jacqueline Tsang
Interior designer Alexandra Magne and her family: spouse Laurent, a sales executive, and three children – Jules, Louise and Achille
Alexandra made use of bright hues throughout the home to boost the energy of its colour palette. Vibrant touches of sunshine yellow, red and teal add interest to the décor and help to lift the neutral greys and browns.