Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Parisian Carriage House: An Extraordinary Before & After

Our life seems to have exploded at the moment, so while we wait for the dust to settle I thought I'd post a quick but cute story about a gorgeous Parisian carriage house that I spotted while browsing The New York Times' archives last month. Some of you may have already seen this, so my apologies if you have, but for those who haven't, it's worth a glance. If, like me, you've always wanted to have your own little Parisian pied-a-terre, a carriage house such as this could be the solution. More details of the project can be found here{Photo credit: Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times.}

Designer: New York interior designer Kein Cross. Building: A two-storey, 18th-century courtyard house in Paris, a few steps from the Notre Dame. Dimensions: 19 feet wide by 6 feet deep.Design Challenges: The living room, minus the area taken up by a stairway, was less than 4 feet deep. The kitchen was so tiny there was no room to open the oven. Furthermore, the exterior featured a bricked-up window, and a facade that would have scared off most designers. Positive points: There was a courtyard. And the rent was half market rate. Budget:  $25,000.

Parisian carriage house exterior: Before

Parisian carriage house exterior: After

Design Solutions

Parisian carriage house kitchen: Before

Parisian carriage house kitchen: After

As the kitchen was too small for an oven, a two-burner cooktop was installed, along with a professional, Parisian-style coffeemaker, which was almost as big as a stove. 

Parisian carriage house living room: Before

Parisian carriage house living room: After
The living area was so small there wasn’t room for a couch or even a pair of chairs. So Mr. Cross created what he calls a pasha’s bed: the end of a modular sofa that cost about $1,000.

Parisian carriage house bedroom: Before

Parisian carriage house bedroom: After
The bedroom was another challenge. Hoping to evoke the romance of sleeping on a train, Mr. Cross bought a bunk bed with a futon that opened to a double bed on the bottom. But the futon was so uncomfortable he threw it out and bought a full-size mattress that doesn’t fold up. Even so, it is a cozy space, with the bottom of the upper berth covered in striped wallpaper and a cushion against the back wall.

Parisian carriage house bathroom: Before

Parisian carriage house bathroom: After
In the bathroom, he replaced the sink and mirror, regrouted the white tiles, installed $69 glass shower doors, added two rows of black tiles and striped the bathtub with black enamel paint.

The end result? A dream house in Paris.


  1. Love how little landscaping was done for its huge impact.

    And, by an interior decorator not landscape designer.

    Talent everywhere.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  2. Certainly dramatic and a great improvement but still, alas, claustrophobic!!!! Perhaps the perfect pied-à-terre.
    Is everything OK are you settled in now? miss talking to you. xx

  3. So sweet. Lovely improvement. Enjoy your Wednesday.x

  4. Good to see you back. That renovation very clever. I love the area with the bust and bananas. It would be beyond my ability to do this but one can admire and dream!

  5. Oh gosh, that is so inspiring! The interior is so delightful. ... Now I've just got to save enough money to one day buy a little apartment like that in Paris! ^^

    Melissa @ Melicious

  6. Welcome back! What an amazing renovation, I like the idea of a small space - less housekeeping. Mr Cross commented who uses an oven, with some shame, I have to agree with him. On my calculations, he spent about 10% of his budget on the bust of Bacchus.

  7. Oh I was so clever and now I can't remember it and obviously it didn't go through!!!!!! Very dramatic renovation.
    Hope all is well at home I miss talking to you xx

  8. As MOTH calls me Millie the Midget this is THE perfect house for me, yippee! Hope you have weathered the move back to the Big Smoke without too much trauma.
    M xx

  9. Dear Janelle
    Yep, back home again. After 3 weeks in a Paris shoe box, though bigger than this little darling, and with very simple styling (quite fresh and light), couldn't live in a tiny place like this. Despite the fabulous styling it would be claustrophobic. It's so wonderful to have space again.

    Looking forward to seeing some of the before and after shots of your new house.

    Best wishes, Pamela


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