Curves Abound in This Soft-Toned Art Nouveau Paris Apartment

“The stained-glass windows completely blew me away,” says interior architect and designer Louis Denavaut, recounting his first impressions of this recently renovated Paris apartment. Measuring in at 1,184 square feet, the apartment belongs to a close childhood friend who he’d lost touch with until this project popped up. Located in an Art Nouveau building in the 14th arrondissement, with magnificent views and large flowers engraved in its stone facade, the face needed to be carefully updated without steamrolling that old-time charm. 

Louis found the rounded masonry to be “a bit ’70s,” but considered the existing arches to be one of the home’s outstanding features. The architect and designer chose to simplify the volumes and to keep the typically Parisian layout of the space, with the small kitchen at the end of the hallway and the bedrooms left in their original locations. The discovery of a herringbone parquet during the renovation process was a nice surprise and all it needed was a slight refresh. The most challenging part of the project was bringing in marble from Portugal—a veined tiger’s skin—which Louis used to turn the principal bathroom into a marble cube. 

The dining room is all soft curves between wood and pastel walls. On the ceiling, Cromarty paint (Farrow & Ball). Around the Ella table (Louis Denavaut), Principal chairs by Bodil Kjaer (Karakter Copenhagen). In the niche, a vase by Ionna Vautrin. Hanging lamp by Knit Wit (Made by Hand).

Christophe Coënon

Louis’s approach was to rely on the original layout of the apartment instead of new construction to create a stylistic unity between the 1920s and the 1970s, the two decades that inspire him most. There’s a nod to Pierre Jeanneret in the bathroom with a wooden vanity that floats above the bathtub, while the radiator covers are in the shape of old transistors. High wooden baseboards can be removed when necessary while concealing the apartment’s wiring. The intervention was deliberately light when it came to structural additions, retaining curved walls and rounded doors to integrate custom-designed furniture in stained oak, a large leather sofa, and a headboard with a bedside table integrated into the Gio Ponti. “I wanted to tap into the elegance of the past,” he says. “I wanted to recapture it using noble materials—no laminates, no plywood—with an eye toward economy and durability while delivering a form of patinaed elegance.”

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