It would be safe to assume that a four-person home – complete with office, dining area, fully equipped kitchen, and eye-catching art collection – would occupy a considerable amount of space.
But in the case of Katharina Holderegger and Jean-Cyril Rossier’s Parisian pied-à-terre, substantial square footage is not only nonexistent, it’s entirely nonessential. “The apartment is small and simple, but well thought out,” says Katharina, who enlisted the help of designer Marianne Evennou for the renovation of what was once her husband’s office (yes, it’s that small). Their goal: to craft a welcoming, family-friendly living space that could accommodate the couple, who are currently based in Switzerland, on their frequent visits to the City of Lights – both en amoureux and with their children, now 10 and 12.
With just under 270 square feet to work with, Marianne prioritized functionality. But it was equally important, she decided, that decisions were never made at the cost of sophistication. After all, Katharina, an art historian, and Jean-Cyril, a screenwriter, needed a space that was as inspiring as it was efficient, and that could stylishly house an assortment of books, artwork, and family treasures. (If only we could say the same about our own postage stamp–size spaces.)
While the apartment “had not been renovated for ages and was not particularly sexy,” as Marianne says, it did have merits that could serve as starting points for the redesign: A location in the city’s hip Marais district informed a diverse aesthetic befitting its globe-trotting inhabitants, while high ceilings allowed for the construction of a wooden staircase and space-saving lofted bedroom.
For now, the children sleep here while Holderegger and Rossier use the pull-out sofa downstairs.) Ultimately designed to meet a range of needs for a four-person family, the home turned out to be equal parts cozy and cosmopolitan, adapting to both business (a custom shelving unit acts as a makeshift “office” and leisure – but the couple know its purpose will continue to evolve with time. “The place will eventually get too small for the whole family,” Katharina says, “but it will someday allow our children to explore Paris with their friends.”
Read on for small-space takeaways, and more on how this chic escape took shape.
Use Color to Delineate Functions In a small, box-like space, Marianne recommends using color strategically. Here, she made up for a lack of dividing walls by selecting hues to designate “rooms”: a smoky gray for the entrance, green for the sleeping area, a subdued steel blue in the kitchen.
Don’t Stick to a Single Style What makes the home most interesting, Marianne says, is its mix of cultural influences, textures, and time periods. The building’s original terra-cotta tile floor lives alongside modern furniture, wicker lighting, marble surfaces, and raw woods.
Make Your Own Mural The structured pattern above the sofa was painted directly on the living room wall. It adds “a modern touch to this 18th-century building,” says Marianne. “Just like a piece of art.”
Add Built-Ins That Do More Than One Thing Storage is tucked beneath a floating staircase, which does double (and triple) duty as a bookshelf and a makeshift desk.
Splurge on Finishes, As They’ll Stand Out in a Small Space Despite its size, the kitchen offers everything needed for family meals and gatherings. It’s also impressively sleek, thanks to streamlined cabinetry and Carrara marble countertops.
Hang as Much as Possible In contrast to the traditional architecture of the room, a cheery modern pegboard keeps everyday essentials within reach.
Give Your Art Pride of Place Art adds soul to any space, but in the home of an art historian it’s a particularly prized detail. Taking center stage in the living room: a set of watercolors by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach.
A Shelf + a Chair = a Desk As seen in the couple’s “office,” a single surface serves many purposes.
Leave Some Nooks Undecorated According to Marianne, less is more in a lofted bedroom. (“Don’t put much, but choose well,” she says.) Here, James Welling photograms add intrigue to an otherwise sparsely appointed space.
Embrace a Teensy Bathroom Hidden behind the kitchen, the concrete restroom is a tidy – and predictably tiny – escape.