Clarice in Paris
1,130 sqft ︱ Parisian Minimalist
It was year 2012, 19 year-old, free-spirited Clarice left Singapore for Paris to pursue her studies in fashion and art and an adventure of a lifetime.
Little did she expect that she’d met the love of her life, Steven, a dashing, introspective gentleman born and raised in the outskirts of Paris, a stone’s throw away from the city, where people had learnt to appreciate the slower pace of life.
Despite the impending uncertainties of cultural differences and job security, Steven could not have been more certain of the decision he would eventually make. In 2017, he’d left his home country and moved across the world to start a new life with Clarice.
When Studio Lead, Cher, first received the design brief for 1130-sqft apartment, she was over the moon. Cher shares: “I’ve always wanted to work on a Parisian-themed home since I started residential interior design and working on it with this lovely couple made it an even more meaningful experience.”
The space is inspired by the origin of the couple’s love story. It is designed in a chic Parisian modern style, integrating the use of classic and contemporary styles. Overall, it was kept minimalistic yet personal with few built-ins and more curated furniture. The use of herringbone flooring and extravagant marble surfaces are in abundance.
The apartment sees a lengthy, rectangular space which allows for an open-concept layout with beautiful natural flow of light from one end to another. Prior to the renovation, massive storage solutions were built to cater to the previous owners’ lifestyle. Their main storage solution sat in the center of the apartment and blocked the natural light from reaching most areas, creating a moody, mysterious experience that the new owners wanted to move away from.
The flooring was essential in recreating a chic Parisian apartment. In Paris, the floor would be decked in parquet planks in chevron or herringbone lay. Vinyl planks in herringbone lay were proposed as a cost-effective and easy-to-maintain option while emulating an uncanny aesthetic. The walls are painted in a subtle pastel hue of cream to making the space feel warmer and more welcoming.
Fortunately for us, tall windows which are typical in a Parisian-styled apartment, came with the original apartment. The sheer curtains adorn the windows in the living room, gently softening the daylight coming through, providing the space with a romantic feel.
While the living room is kept minimalistic and spacious to allow the couple to engage in activities such as indoor exercises, the main feature is the custom marble fireplace. Fireplaces are a well-known characteristic of the Haussmannian apartments in Paris.
Parts of the fireplace were built abroad by an overseas crafter and assembled locally as with the marble slabs that were used for the kitchen countertops. This was done as the specific vintage-look Calacatta Viola marble selected was not easily sourced locally. The other challenge faced was the lack of skilled manpower who could have taken on this project with the pandemic.
While most of the marble arrived in Singapore safely, there were some hairline cracks that required repairs before the local team could polish, cut to size, and install. It is important to note that there are risks and possibly unexpected costs that homeowners would need to bear when customising and purchasing items internationally, especially one of this scale.
To avoid a heavy classical Parisian look, wall panels were not used in abundance. Instead, a singular decorative architrave cleverly demarcates the living room from the kitchen and dining area and lends an elegant antique touch to the space.
Black oak is predominantly used in the kitchen and dining area whether as laminate cladding the kitchen joinery or as furnishing such as the dining table and chairs. The use of this modern and minimalistic black oak allows for further dramatisation of the vintage-looking marble.
A 2.8-metres island sitting in the center of the space is the largest storage solution in the apartment. No overhead storage or tall units were proposed in order to maximise the openness of the space.
The dining table sits opposite the island, against the stretch of windows, creating an almost-alfresco dining area. This is the couple’s favourite spot where they’d work from home, host their loved ones, or indulge in an occasional romantic dinner.
The chandelier is a magical décor piece of the Parisian style décor. Therefore, we wanted to a statement piece to reflect that ethos. The chandelier selected is far-fetched from a typical classical chandelier and is in a more minimalistic and contemporary style. Parisians love juxtaposition especially when it comes to décor and this attitude is highlighted when selecting items for the apartment.
Luxurious dark grey marble tiles and organic charcoal-coloured stone tiles make up both bathrooms manifesting a moody, tranquil retreat. In this case, the main thing to perform is lighting which in both bathrooms, while are small spaces, have at least 3-4 options to create a dramatic experience.
The Parisian style embraces all things natural over the staged and over-styled. The master bedroom is kept simple and feels homey and lived-in with the focus on the use of quality bedding. The minimalistic linen bedframe lends a charming, casual aesthetic to the room. The use of French linen sheets further elevates its natural, organic appeal. Linen is known to age gracefully and gets softer with every use. European families are known to pass down their linen sheets as an heirloom to the next generation.
In here, remainder of the marble slabs were put to good use with the fabrication of two side tables. The minimalistic background of the bedroom further draws attention to the exceptional grains of the marble.
Gorgeous classic timber doors with brass knob detailing enhance the elegance and vintage-feel to the apartment.
Prior to the renovation, there were 2 separate showers on the far left and a larger stand-alone powder room on the right.
While she could have left the powder room on the right and combined the 2 separate showers into one, Cher recommended to tilt the water closet to the opposite direction so as to make use of larger space (as a result of combining 2 shower rooms) for the powder room. The final layout sees a powder room on the left and a separate shower on the right. “The powder room is Clarice’s priority and I wanted to maximize the luxury of space the couple would feel while they go about their daily rituals,” Cher shares. The bathroom vanity would have only been 1.5-metres as compared to the current 2.1-metres if left at the original location.
The Parisian style powder room adopts a monochromatic palette with a stunning combination of sophistication and vintage aesthetic. On top of the marble-printed floor tiles, the double integrated sink was custom-made with marble-printed slabs to elevate its extravagance. The Parisian look was further enhanced with the brass wall scones which softly illuminates the room. Additionally, anti-glare ceiling lights were also installed to ensure that proper lighting options were catered for different activities.
In the shower, ivory-coloured wall and floor tiles were selected to stay minimalistic in the background while bathroom fittings and trimmings in brass gold catches the eye.
Adding personal touches to the space was essential to bring out the chic Parisian style. Parisian modern style is defined by attention to detail and one-of-kind pieces. Taking time to collect pieces and furniture that mean something and makes the space feel more curated and collected as opposed to cookie-cutter which most people love about this style. The apartment is filled with meaningful objects that the couple had collected on their extensive travels, contemporary art, travel photography, antiques, and modern art. Most of the furniture was sourced internationally, some are contemporary while some are pre-owned vintage pieces.
As Cher sat down with the couple for lunch on the day of the photoshoot, they enthusiastically filled her in on their post-pandemic travel to Paris and their earlier travel experiences. “It was amazing to start travelling together again. We both love travelling and that’s also how we found each other. Maybe in 2 to 3 years’ time, we’ll make plans to move to a different country. We want to live passionately, meet new people, learn their stories, establish new connections, and create a new life together across the globe,” Clarice shared.
For the well-travelled couple, their current home is a reminder of where they’d first met, a home away from their second home, and a place to wind down after their adventures. Our heartfelt thanks to Clarice and Steven for giving us an opportunity to be part of your meaningful experience.
Bon voyage toujours.