Le Petit Saint Germain, an Adrian Leeds exclusive. Note the use of lighter colours with bright pops of red.
A Little Bit of Paris…
While the Brits and Americans are quickly latching onto the tiny house trend, France has quietly been living petite for ages. If you have ever seen the movie classic, “An American in Paris,” you saw a parody of the famously small, French pied-a-terre in its opening scene. Gene Kelly awakes to a one-room micro apartment in which his bed is elevated on a pulley to the ceiling. He opens his closet to reveal a chest of drawers nailed to the inside of the door, and he is basically using his balcony as a chiller. It is both humorous and innovative, as it clearly demonstrates that small space living is as much about ingenuity, as the actual square meters.
A modern-day American in Paris, has been helping the Parisian nouveau to successfully locate, purchase and live contentedly in the City of Light for about 15 years. Adrian Leeds is a well-known real estate entrepreneur and accomplished blogger, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. She has appeared in over 20 episodes of the popular HGTV show, “House Hunters International” and one of the first episodes of “Tiny House World,” which is syndicated throughout the US.
Adrian’s educational background in fashion design is a definite plus when navigating the waters of the Paris property market. She is able to help her clients envision the possibilities, rather than focusing on the shortcomings of a prospective property. And her innate fashion sense helps Paris outsiders tap into the unmistakable French style which reflects a classic attitude and a joie de vivre.
Having purchased and lived in many of Paris’ micro dwellings, Adrian is well-versed in transforming a seemingly uninhabitable space into a highly desirable address. She graciously allowed us to take a peek behind the curtain to see how the magic happens…
First, make good use of vertical space. Kitchen utensils, televisions and storage cabinets can all be hung on the wall, rather than taking up precious floor space.
“In the apartment I live in, we built a shelf over a doorway, where pots and pans are stored,” explains Adrian. “You really don’t notice them there, but when I need one of the pans, I have a little step ladder I can pull out to reach them.”
A big surprise was that she found that she could actually cook more efficiently in this small kitchen, than the large American kitchen she had previously owned. “Everything was right there within reach and far more accessible without having to walk across the room to get eggs out of the refrigerator!”
Another way of tapping into this vertical space is to put risers on the bed.
“The average bed has about 10 cm of space underneath it,” says Adrian. “By raising the bed, you gain far more storage.” She also recommends beds which have storage drawers in the bottom. In this way, you have a bed and a chest of drawers all in one space-saving unit.
Adrian favours light in all of her designs. Light colours, light furniture and outdoor light from large windows.
Light walls and fabrics combined with bright pops of colour, create an airy room that vibrates with colour, rather than appearing sterile and white.
Furniture which is lightweight and set on legs with open space underneath, creates a lighter more spacious feel as well.
Look for a flat with an abundance of windows which will bring the outside in, making it a part of your living space. “Great views are so important,” adds Adrian.
One of her best hacks for transforming a space are mirrors! Designers typically recommend adding mirrors to visually add space. So, most flat owners buy a couple of rectangular mirrors and hang them on the wall, expecting miracles.
“Mirrors have to be strategically placed,” advises Adrian to really make a difference in the feel of the room. “If you place a bathtub just opposite the bathroom doorway, the visual space is stopped right there. But, if you place the vanity and a big mirror just beyond the doorway, the space just goes on infinitely. The trick is in an immediate reflection of the space to give the illusion of it being much larger than it really is.”
An example of her brilliant use of mirrors can be found in the picture above in which the space just seems almost infinite in the tiny space.
For those who would like their small space to actually have a Parisian feel to it, Adrian suggests the use of decorative moulding on doors and cabinetry and even on walls for a fairly inexpensive detail that adds tons of charm. Another element of French style is beautiful parquet flooring. With regard to fabrics, French patterns are a frequent choice when creating a Parisian feel, and toile is another classically French statement. And, of course, the unmistakable wrought iron work which is so commonly seen in all of Paris will add the exclamation point to your look.
All of these design elements are easily achievable in a tiny house or a studio flat.
It’s important to note that the French enthusiasm to create an elegant and yet comfortable ambiance in the home, does not dissipate with the size of the dwelling. –A tiny pied-a-terre is given just as much style consideration as an ambling chateau.
One trend that Adrian has noticed among Britons traveling to France in search of a holiday home is the tendency to land in places outside of Paris – and immediately head for the beaches of southern France or a country estate, missing the beauty of the Parisian culture, it’s people and its architecture.
“I wish they would give it more of a chance,” says Adrian. “Paris has a lot to offer.”
For more of Adrian’s expert advice on all phases of real estate investment, visit her website at www.AdrianLeeds.com where you can register for her three weekly “nouvellettres® — Parler Paris, Parler Nice and French Property Insider.
To view the classic scene from “An American in Paris,” with Gene Kelly, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGvV7FEv-pQ