The light house
Internal windows and carefully placed mirrors make this home appear bigger and brighter
How to make your home feel bigger and lighter using skylights and mirrors
When architects Isabelle Juy-lott and Matthieu Lott purchased this flat in the heart of Paris, its 35-square-metre floorplan suited them perfectly. However, the arrival of two children – Arsene (now eight) and May (five months) – made things a bit too cramped. The couple purchased the attic and a further small space above the building’s communal staircase to accommodate the new members of the family. To lighten the rooms, they built a glazed section into the floor of the second storey and placed mirrors opposite windows to bounce light around. Still only 90 square metres, this home now gives the impression of being much bigger.
This apartment in the Rive Gauche, south Paris, measures only 35 square metres, but it makes up in individuality what it lacks in size. Architect Rodolphe Parente designed the interior for a 38-year-old practicing Buddhist, who lives alone, and the inspiration behind it is as idiosyncratic as the space itself. ‘I was asked to create a place evocative of the dancing dwarf’s red room in the TV series Twin Peaks,’ he says. ‘The owner is a huge fan of David Lynch and wanted an emotional and vibrant interior.’
Situated on the sixth floor of a traditional building, the apartment is a spectacle of red floors, concrete walls and glimmering brass that replaces the original period mouldings, parquet and brick. ‘Before the renovation, this space was a very typical Parisian flat, and we completely changed the atmosphere,’ says Rodolphe.
The apartment is separated into two distinct areas – the first comprises the kitchen and living room, and the second, the bedroom. A small bathroom divides the two, acting as a visual demarcation between private and public spaces.
The unusual mix of materials were key to the success of this Parente’s design. The shiny, wet-look red mahogany floor, designed in collaboration with French wood flooring expert Oscar Ono, ➤
‘WE APPLIED TWO COATS OF COLOUR TO THE WOOD TO CREATE THE INTENSE RED SHADE, THEN ADDED A SHINY RESIN LAYER FOR A SUPER-GLOSSY EFFECT – I WANTED A WET-LOOK FLOOR’
runs throughout the space and is offset by the stainless-steel bathroom and brass furniture. The apartment also makes extensive use of concrete – as a finishing coat over the walls and ceiling, and also for the bookshelves and the doors of the kitchen units. The rawness of the material provides a vivid contrast to the metal accents and polished floor. ‘I like to mix traditional and modest materials with precious details, and to combine glossy and matt or patterned and minimal finishes,’ says Rodolphe.
The homeowner’s requirement for a large bookcase – difficult to accommodate in such a small space – was achieved by installing a floating concrete shelving unit that is part architectural statement, part sculpture. Building the shelving was a technical challenge as the empty bookshelves alone weigh more than a tonne – they are supported by an invisible structure built into the wall. This feature is not the only functional element in this home that makes an unexpected statement. The boxed-out pillar in the kitchen, which conceals electrical wires, has been clad in brass, turning a necessity into a focal point. It’s now one of the first things you notice when you step inside. ‘I designed it to catch the light – it’s like a little ray of sunshine,’ says Rodolphe. rodolpheparente.com
‘I WAS ASKED TO CREATE A PLACE EVOCATIVE OF THE DANCING DWARF’S RED ROOM IN THE TV SERIES TWIN PEAKS. THE OWNER IS A HUGE FAN OF DAVID LYNCH’
This pillar, which conceals wiring, has been clad in reflective brass, helping to bounce light around the apartment The green marble and brass table, designed by architect Rodolphe Parente, was inspired by the ring worn by the dwarf in Twin Peaks. The armchairs are 1960s designs by Gae Aulenti for Prisunic (try 1st Dibs). The floor light is also a vintage piece, by Andrée Putman Stockist details on p185
Built into the wall to maximise floor space, the floating concrete bookcase weighs over one tonne