Houzz Tour: A Parisian Flat Inspired by a Pedro Almodóvar Film
This one-bedroom apartment was designed for a cinema lover and pays subtle homage to the Spanish director
The apartment hadn’t been renovated since the building was constructed in the 1970s, so Charles asked the Lagom agency, led by Déborah Calfond Bettan and Avinoam Bettan, for a complete renovation after spotting their work online and in an article on Houzz. The Bettans had everything Charles was looking for: a passion for contemporary and graphic spaces, a love of cinema and an understanding of the importance of good sleep.
Who lives here? Charles Coutris, manager of L’Indochineur and its brand, Studio Rivêt
Location The seventh floor of a 1970s building in Paris, France
Size 538 sq ft (50 sq m)
Architects Déborah Calfond Bettan and Avinoam Bettan of Lagom Architects
Photos by Maude Artarit and Delphine Quesme
Since 2002, Charles has dedicated himself to his company. He deals with a lot of challenges in his work, so he wanted his new apartment to be a place of relaxation and wellbeing.
He fell in love with the apartment’s fantastic view of Paris, and the fact that its main rooms – living room, kitchen and bedroom – open out onto a terrace that overlooks a garden full of trees. All of the spaces in the apartment were served by a long corridor at the back.
As an art lover who’s passionate about cinema and music, Charles asked the architects to install a cinema space in the apartment, along with a sound system in every room. His other wishes were more classic, including creating a work area, opening the kitchen to the living room and replacing the bath with a shower.
As for style, Charles trusted the architects based on their previous projects and gave them only one simple instruction, Déborah says. “As a fan of the worlds created by Spanish director [Pedro] Almodóvar, he was in love with the interior owned by the main character of the film Pain and Glory – which was out at the time – in particular his graphic kitchen,” she says.
The duo quickly came back to Charles with two sketches. The owner selected a light and airy design underscored with notes of light wood and dark green.
The cupboard by the front door was replaced by a new storage unit in oak-veneered plywood that offers a drop zone and hides the internet router from view. Two other storage units in white-painted MDF store coats, among other things.
The small, asymmetrical shelves suspended on thermo-lacquered aluminium tubes display beautiful objects that are valuable to the owner.
Those who have seen the film Pain & Glory will notice that the quirkier splashes of vibrant colour from the main character’s apartment are missing here. No red kitchen with a blue splashback, no living room with oversize paintings in exuberant colours.
All that the architects took from those scenes is the graphic feel of Almodóvar’s beloved compositions and the deep green colour of the main character’s velvet sofa. In fact, this is what gave them the idea for the pine green divider frame, which is softened by the pale oak shelves and contrasts with the white of the walls.
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The architects dreamed up two linear storage units to install the home cinema system at the back of the room.
The upper cabinets are about 40cm deep. The white cabinets align over the green cabinets, giving the impression of a perfect fit. “The video projector is hidden among them,” Déborah says.
It’s impossible to finish the description of this kitchen without touching on the lighting system. “We proposed it to keep with the graphic spirit, and Charles adored it. Moreover, he’d spotted it in an article about one of our other projects. In the end, the calculations were complicated, but it’s Avi who worked on them,” she says.
Using the customisable lighting system meant Avinoam had to calculate each linear metre of cabling that would be required, working from the plans the architects had drawn earlier. Equipped with a dimmer, this system can provide a bright or cosy light, depending on the needs of the moment.
First of all, the piping was difficult to move. “We decided from the beginning to take it on by looking for a full-height radiator that could subsume the piping while playing divider,” Déborah says. The radiator is installed on square plates, which pick up the pattern of the splashback.
This challenge led to one of the leitmotifs of the décor. “These pipes were actually what guided us to the design of the suspended furniture,” she says.
The second problem had to do with the floor in the old kitchen. “We decided to extend the parquet with a new version that was as similar as possible, and then create a carpet of tiles in front of the cupboards,” she says. “We created a broken-up transition by scattering tiles here and there in the parquet. Finding the right parquet and tiles of the same dimensions as the original pattern was not exactly easy.”
The architects installed a wireless Sonos Play 1 speaker in the bedroom. “Wherever Charles may be in the apartment, the music he’s listening to follows him,” Déborah says.
This material reminds Déborah of one of the discoveries that marked her double major in architecture and as a student at the school of art. “These white tiles with black joints always remind me of architect and contemporary visual artist Jean-Pierre Raynaud, who prepared his whole ‘home’ [referring to an installation by Raynaud entitled ‘The Home of the Celle-Saint-Cloud’] in them and said that ‘contrasting effects are stimulating’. The essential tension between black and white is powerful.”