How to make an inspiring home when you rent in Paris.
Today I have a very special story to share. It is about a Parisian home of my close friend Anna. She is the one who created the design of this blog. And it is also her who always provides an immense amount of encouragement to me to write and to share. While most of my readers do not know my friend, I am sure that her home and approach to life will inspire you to make a small or a big change. Maybe not only with your home.
Anna is a digital marketing specialist, a photographer, a traveler, a cook, and a nature lover. The order of the words can be absolutely different and they do not limit her interests in any way. She was raised in Russia and Greece. Lived, studied, and worked in Moscow, Paris, London, Madrid, San Francisco, and Lisbon. But then returned to much loved Paris.
I believe that every place we visit and every person we meet as well as every book we read or language we choose to learn stay with us in one form or another. Similarly, our heritage and life experience influence the way we live. Anna’s little apartment in the heart of Paris proves it. Pieces of her life mosaics collected from all over the world cohabit in harmony in her graceful, feminine and very Parisian apartment which for now she calls home.
Lets take a tour with her!
‘Most of the furniture I found in online second hand shops like Boncoin and now I often say that this is my responsible recycling action which is very en vogue in France.‘
‘The head of the bull came with me from Madrid, a city where I used to live. But I bought it especially for this flat. I think it goes well together with the basket underneath the table. Several years ago I started to collect posters from the Cannes Festival and the exhibitions which I like. I keep my collection in the basket for now.‘
‘Black and white photography is a reminder about my beloved Moscow. I bought them several years ago at The Lumiere Brothers Gallery.’
‘Candles with owls are from Fornasetti. I love all his designs. This purchase dates back to the period of my obsession with owls. Thought it was over as soon as everyone started to give me owls as gifts.‘
‘A bouquet of dried flowers is a present from my mom. She gave it to me when I moved in this apartment. Yellow is a very unusual color for me but it goes well together with grey.‘
‘And these white roses are from my boyfriend. He said that he was looking for particular shade of white so they fit my interior nicely. Oh these French…‘
‘My vintage camera is a Kiev 4, which I got from my grandfather. I haven’t yet figured out how to use it, as its different from the one I had before from my grandma. It’s a project for next weekend.‘
What is the home?
For me home is more where my family is. If it would be possible I would introduce a separate word for that. I have traveled a lot in the past 8 years and so it was always one rental after another. As where I am now, it is a rental apartment. So again, a temporary thing, even though I would not mind to own this little refuge. But this « nest »as I call it, is very cozy. For the first time I bought all the furniture myself and decorated it as I wanted. I was really lucky with this apartment as it is not easy to find something like that in this busy city. Besides it was newly renovated and the owners are a sweet elderly and very cool couple who live down the corridor. The lady, you should see her, with her thick square glasses, little bun, and always some funky details: either a flowery dress (that I would love to have) or a red scarf with sheep.
What was your inspiration?
My mother has an amazing taste and she is a decorator, so actually my inspiration was from her last work in Madrid. I wanted also to mix some classical furniture with modern, add some finds from flea market and keep it in natural beige and grey colors with elements in black.
Describe your home in three words?
Cozy, vintage, natural.
What do you see outside your window?
The main problem with Parisian apartments is that they all have vis-à-vis. It is when your view is your neighbor. I can’t boast a view on the Tour Eiffel. Although I am equally happy as I don’t have a vis-a vis and just a roof of the building in front instead.
In summer I also had a seagull visit my little parapet. It was huge and very friendly. I guess the previous tenant was feeding him sometimes. And it is a weird fact about Paris. Sometimes I wake up on a Sunday morning with the sounds of seagulls screaming. It makes me feel like I am sleeping near a port.
What is your favorite place at home?
La Méridienne, or the “loveseat”. Before I found the flat I wanted to have a piece of furniture like that. It is an ideal place to read and relax. I bought mine from an elderly lady near Paris whose daughter put it online on Facebook Marketplace. I was really lucky as it is originally from Maison du Monde and was like new. She also had a matching chair. Here they call it chaise berger and I got as well. She was very kind and gave me for free lots of pillows and a banquette. I changed the fabric and put it in the corridor.
Is there is something you home is missing?
The only sad thing is that I live in best city to visit flea markets-brocantes and I have nothing that I need to buy. The space already feels full with stuff I have so I restrain myself and go to weekend food markets instead. Actually a good cocotte and silver salt pepper could be an option.
What is for dinner today?
I don’t really like to cook for myself, I like my audience. A very French dish that I love to cook in autumn is fried Magret du canard (duck breast) in cranberry sauce. I buy the cranberry souse in Ikea ,add Quatre Epices seasoning and cook homemade potato puree or even better, aligot, puree with cheese.
Tea or coffee?
Both actually. Coffee is my « I need to wake up » drink or « un noisette » in a restaurant after a dinner that will continue elsewhere. I try to control my coffee intake as I don’t want to get too dependent. Tea is a part of a tradition. In Russia we drink lots of it: in the morning or after dinner with a dessert. My grandfather easily has three big cups in the evening. In the evening after a busy day, like my mum, I drink tisane, Yogi Tea Bedtime. And in the morning I like my freshly made, brewed Earl Grey. The best one I found so far is the Earl Grey Yin Zhen from Dammann. I buy it in their beautiful boutique on place de Vosges. By the way their «Russian» tea selection, I don’t find very Russian.
Bath or shower?
That’s unfortunately the biggest minus of my flat, I am a « bath person » and I have an Italian shower but no bath. So when I travel I make sure there is a bath and I bring my favorite bath salts from Natura Siberica with me.
What do you always have in your fridge?
Cheese! I really take advantage of being in France and having access to all these amazing cheeses. So I always have St. Felicien, a soft one from cows milk and hard one which is Compte and I like it quite young. When I lived in Spain, I always had chorizo in my fridge.
With what smell do you associate your home with?
I am very passionate about smells, it is super important for me. So for my apartment, I found the smell a long time ago. It was when I lived in Paris for the first time, 8 years ago. It is from Esteban and it is called Teck&Tonka.
Its quite masculine, but warm and seductive at the same time. As Christmas is approaching I wanted to have something that would give me some Christmas mood. So in addition to the natural fir tree wrath I got at Durance, I have Au pied de Sapin candle , which smells exactly like a real fir tree.
And what about sound?
I like bossa nova a lot. Its perfect as a background music. In general, I have a thing for Brazilian music. It is exotic, relaxing, easy, incomprehensible and makes me travel. When I cook I go for Latin music, the Narcos soundtrack actually works really well. Its more energetic and fun, and for me cooking is always fun time, a little project, a challenge.
Photography by Anna Kaminova