Houzz Tour: A New Layout Makes Sense of a Penthouse Flat
A flowing layout, fresh colours and textured details have transformed this two-floor flat into a comfortable family home
However, the style of the new apartment didn’t suit them, so they decided to redecorate. They turned to Houzz, where they discovered the work of interior architect Marie le Magueresse of Murs et Merveilles. After two-and-a-half months of intense work, the flat is unrecognisable.
Who lives here? A couple and their seven-year-old daughter
Location A new building next to the Ile Seguin in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, France
Size 115 sq m
Project duration July to September 2020
Interior designer Marie Le Magueresse of Murs et Merveilles
Budget €175,000 (around £146,347) excluding fees; including €50,000 (around £41,813) for bespoke furniture
Photos by Sophie Lloyd
Styling by Céline Hassen
The owners called Marie Le Magueresse to update the duplex’s décor. However, some concerns about the layout also came out during the in-depth interview that Marie always conducts when she embarks on a new project.
“The entrance wasn’t laid out well; two out of three rooms upstairs were too small, and the three bathrooms were more than they needed,” she says.
As an interior designer, Marie recommends systematically rethinking spaces and traffic flow to bring out the essence of the property, before coming up with the best décor. She suggested a radical change to the layout of the downstairs entrance, and got rid of one of the upstairs bathrooms to expand two of the bedrooms.
“Having rethought the layout, we worked on giving the duplex real character with high-end materials and finishes and custom built-in furniture that optimises the space,” she says.
Once the drafting phase was completed between February and May 2020, construction began in July. The owners had to move back in September for the start of the school year, so the work was intense.
The island next to the kitchen was deliberately created with no sink or hob, in order to “resemble an elegant sideboard” from the entrance. It’s used for food prep and family breakfasts. “The owners had an island in their previous kitchen, and got used to living with it, including for working. This feature was indispensable for them,” Marie says.
Like all of the bespoke furniture in this flat, the kitchen was created by craftspeople in Portugal in painted MDF and oak veneer. The worktop is in lightly marbled Silestone quartz (Calacatta gold version).
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“We went for elegant coherence, with shades of white and grey. The touches of light oak warm up the whole composition,” she says.
Another request from the owners – not as common but well justified here – was to exchange the wood flooring for tiles. “These clients have a large golden retriever who’d completely ruined the same floor a few storeys down, and they didn’t want to encounter the same problem,” she says. They went for a textured, wood-look ceramic floor from Porcelanosa, which looks impressively natural.
“It’s a metal and glass creation from iron manufacturer Pascal Godreau. He’s an aesthete of glass who’s passionate and exacting, and a wonderful person, too,” Marie says.
The owners wanted beautiful décor, and Marie, who loves original wallpaper and gorgeous textures, had fun with the research. This black-and-white Jungle Tropical botanical paper from Ohmywall caught her eye.
At the back, the existing staircase, redecorated in a wallpaper from Isidore Leroy, also enhances the space under the ceiling. The openwork pattern of the balustrade was extended below.
“We accentuated the interplay of lines under the staircase in order to liven up the storage units and extended them to the right to create the bookcase,” Marie says. “The design of the glass was also inspired by this, like the rest of the built-in furniture. The rhythm of the balustrade is the connecting thread of the décor.”
The family’s ultimate dream – an ethanol fireplace – is in the living room. The TV above it doubles as a work of art. “We opted for the Frame from Samsung, a TV that transforms into a painting when it’s turned off,” Marie says. This placement, where the TV is on top of the fireplace, is fairly rare in France, but makes it possible to maximise the space.
On the left, a floor-to-ceiling storage unit holds the family’s papers and documents. “We paid close attention to the interiors of the cupboards in order to arrange the owners things in the best way possible,” Marie says. “Here, we incorporated a space for storing the two large extension leaves for the dinner table,” she says.
Likewise, the height of the shelves in the open niches was calculated based on the height of the owners’ pair of speakers. The complete piece of joinery was made to measure in painted MDF and oak veneer, which references the pattern of the balustrades.
Upstairs, the largest bedroom had opened onto a terrace with a view of the Seine. The other two were narrower. “In the large bedroom with the best view, The owners hoped to make a second living room for entertaining guests and creating a home cinema,” Marie says. It was therefore necessary to find tricks to create a more comfortable main bedroom and nursery.
One of the three bathrooms has now disappeared in order to expand the daughter’s bedroom. A bit of hallway and a shower room was reattached to the main bedroom and transformed into a walk-in-wardrobe and en suite bathroom, respectively. The third bedroom was still being set up, and was not photographed.
As the dog doesn’t come up here, they left the oak flooring in place, simply sanding it to provide a more contemporary base for the décor. “I like raw oak – it’s always brighter than after varnishing,” Marie says. “We mix a bleaching product into the varnish in order to preserve its raw wood effect.”
Marie chose 120cm sq tiles from Rex Ceramica for the 120cm-long shower to reduce the number of grout lines.
To make sure the brass plumbing doesn’t oxidise over time, the architect advised “material treated with PVD, which is resistant to oxidation, corrosion and scratches”.
As for the owners, they say they love living and entertaining in their new home. “Since then, they’ve whispered the name of our agency to many of their friends,” Marie says gratefully.
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