Online | Interiors

Defined by the Details

Paris, France

Collaboration with artists and artisans, and a sensory approach to materials, make this Parisian apartment by Dora Hart a rare gem

“I favour materials that are vibrant, textural and tactile, allowing objects to possess a soul,” says architect and interior designer Dora Hart. In this Parisian apartment, renovated for a Franco-Tunisian client who works in finance – and is also a keen art collector – Hart’s ethos has been allowed to run free. From the palladium-leaf staircase that twists between the two levels of the duplex to the dark chevron flooring, this space has richness and refinement.

“My client travels extensively for work and wanted a welcoming and warm space, to feel at home and entertain family and friends,” says Hart. There was a practical side to the brief too, though: “It was crucial that the apartment be highly functional with optimised storage and all modern conveniences. We had full creative freedom, trusted entirely by our client for aesthetic choices and spatial arrangements.”

Located in Paris’ 16th arrondissement near the Arc de Triomphe, the apartment was run-down and had been sub-divided into many rooms when Hart took on the project. “We restored the space’s grandeur by creating a large, open area that now serves as the living room, dining room and kitchen,” says Hart.

The curving sofa is a bespoke design by Hart’s studio after failing to find anything that quite fitted the bill, as are the aged-glass mirrors in the niches and the irregularly shaped rug, inspired by a dark-eyed peony (the vintage table, whose base is a brass butterfly, perches in its centre, in a neat bit of visual playfulness).

The kitchen is partially separated from the adjacent dining space by tall walls of storage in a rich, dark eucalyptus, “chosen for its beautiful grain,” says Hart. “I’ve wanted to use it for a long time.” A mirrored plinth at the bottom gives the impression that these storage walls hover elegantly over the chevron flooring, and the unit closest to the window conceals a cosy breakfast table, “a favourite spot for meals, coffee, conversations and simultaneous cooking and working,” according to Hart. The kitchen cabinets have a scumbled metallic finish, created by Paris’ Atelier Mériguet-Carrère, specialists in decorative finishes.

The showstopping staircase (whose predecessor Hart describes as a “cramped metal spiral”) provides a luxurious welcome, and anchors the whole project in its luxurious and tactile approach to materials. The treads are leather; the hand-applied palladium leaf lends everything a gorgeous glow; and the solid oak handrail tops everything off with a final flourish of craftsmanship. “Our goal was to use noble materials and collaborate with artisans to achieve a unique and meticulous result, evoking elegance, comfort and timeless style,” says Hart.

We had full creative freedom, trusted entirely by our client for aesthetic choices and spatial arrangements

The designer collaborated with artist Yann Lacroix to create the scenic walls of the guest bedroom. Lacroix’s work has a lush and dreamlike quality, and here he has created an enveloping scene of trees and cloud-scudded skies, with a trellis design on the headboard wall that draws the eye, birds perching here and there (the piece was inspired by the Villa Medici’s room of birds, and was painted in Lacroix’s studio before being installed on the apartment’s walls).

In the homeowner’s bedroom, with its oversized textured timber headboard and leather chair, everything feels subdued by comparison – but the designer has gone all-out in the master bathroom, which features swathes of marble and eucalyptus cabinetry.

Hart says that meticulous attention to detail is one of the threads that runs through every project, and that’s very clear here, not just in the use of materials but the flow of spaces and the way that the period interior architecture has been sensitively restored (the original flooring was matched to a new custom parquet that involved numerous trials to match its patina, for example). “We aim to breathe new life into spaces while respecting their original structure, history, and charm,” says Hart – and this apartment “exudes a special energy, marked by serenity and fluidity”.