My apartment. We have a love-hate relationship. It is a beautiful apartment but it’s got its flaws. I guess every relationship is like that. The good outweighs the bad though… that’s why I stay in this relationship with my apartment. When I first moved into this apartment I thought I would stay here forever. Then, the honeymoon phase ended and the apartment started to show its true colors. My apartment and I are currently in therapy and are not sure of our future. But, in the meantime, I’m trying to make the best of it.
On a little side note… I don’t want people to get the wrong impression about this apartment. Yes, for Parisian standards it is huge. For American standards, it’s tiny. My entire Parisian apartment is about the same size as my parents Santa Barbara kitchen.
On paper, the apartment seems sensational. 18th-century Haussmann building. Quiet street. Posh neighborhood. Third-floor with 4 floor-to-ceiling French windows with Juliet balconies across the front façade. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, salon/living room, separate dining room, modernized kitchen and bathrooms. The bones of the apartment are of good nature. Three fireplaces, ancient herringbone hardwood floors, 12 foot ceilings, boiserie/moulding/paneling. Concierge, elevator, cave/storage unit in basement.
See how it looks great on paper? Well, now let’s discuss the reality of this apartment. The elevator is so teeny-weeny that my caregiver and I can barely fit in it together. If we have groceries, we have to leave them downstairs and come back for them in a separate trip. In May, we did not have hot water for one week due to the ancient plumbing. Speaking of plumbing, the system here is so ancient that unbeknownst to me I clogged up the entire building’s plumbing system because of “lingettes.” What’s that you ask? Two words: baby wipes. I use baby wipes for everything and how was I supposed to know that you can’t put them down the toilet. The entire building and all of the tenants were charged €5000 to repair the plumbing. Now everyone in the building hates me.
Two of the three bedrooms do not have closets. Luckily, not luckily, there is a corridor of closets but the hallway is so narrow that I cannot look directly into my closet with my wheelchair. So, I just have to tell the caregivers which jacket I want to wear. I will say, “Can I please have the black Moncler puffy jacket.” They say, “Oui.” And then they bring me the army green Barbour quilted vest. I cannot win.
Three fireplaces? Yes, but you’re not allowed to use them for building safety reasons. If the building in front of me were demolished, I would have a view of the Palais Royale. But, alas, I don’t. The kitchen is modernized but so narrow that my wheelchair will not really fit so I’ve really only been to the kitchen twice. Concierge? I’ve never seen her. Cave? The owners have told me that I cannot use it because other people’s stuff is in it.
Lastly, the main drawback for me is that my arrondissement/neighborhood is not my style. It’s a very fancy neighborhood. I am not a fancy girl. I am a Bohemian type of girl with excellent taste. Ha ha. But it’s kind of true… I don’t care how much something costs as long as it looks awesome. My life, my style and my apartment is the ultimate high low. I feel like I am better suited for life on the Left Bank of Paris. La Rive Gauche. I don’t like things perfect like they are over here on the Right Bank. Honestly, if I were well, healthwise, I would be living in an artist studio with my cat on the canals of Saint–Martin in Paris. But, other than these few bad qualities the apartment is marriage material.
This painting is one of my favorite things and I will never part with it. I found it at the Marche aux Puces/fleamarket in Paris about 8 years ago. I asked the elderly gentleman proprietor the price. Too expensive. I leave empty-handed and kind of bummed. The next year I am at the fleamarket again, the painting is still there so I asked the price again. Same price. Still too expensive. I leave empty-handed again but this time I’m kind of devastated. Next year, same scenario but I’m hoping that the elderly gentleman proprietor’s Alzheimer’s has kicked in and he has forgotten the price. No such luck. Same price. Too expensive. Swear to God, the next year I go back and the painting is still there. But the good news is that this time I am in Paris on a buying trip for my store with a kind of unlimited budget. I didn’t even ask the price or even try to bargain. I just laid out the cash on the elderly gentleman proprietor’s desk and said, “Wrap it up, please” with the biggest smile on my face. That painting has now traveled from Paris to Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara to New York, New York back to Santa Barbara and now it is back home in Paris. I love it so much I could lick it.
Sorry, I know it’s totally cliché but I love my Hermes boxes.
I love love love this pink little pillow. I found it in a shop on rue Paul Bert for €30 including the pillow insert. The chair is a reproduction English tufted chair from Maison du Monde
The shop had every color and every size pillow imaginable. I’m going to go back to get more.
My friend Heather from Habitually Chic was with me and she bought this blue one with an orange back! Love it!
I shipped this cobra candlestick over from Santa Barbara. I had two of them but the other one broke in the move. My caregivers do not know the power and brilliance of American superglue so unfortunately the other cobra candlestick sits in the closet… broken. My husband bought them for me from the Martin Lawrence Bullard collection on One Kings Lane a few years ago.
Soooo, a couple of months ago we went to Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France. I fell in love with the China pattern that Monet designed and used. It is called Creil Montereau. They sold it in the gift shop but it was “new” and expensive. Luckily, a few weeks later, the antique gods were smiling upon me because I spied them at the fleamarket. One of my favorite dealers had a tea set from the 1800s! A teapot, creamer, sugar bowl, 12 tea cups and saucers and 12 individual creamers. For only €300! I bargained a bit to get the price down. It’s hard to say no to a girl in a wheelchair. Then, as luck would have it we saw an 82 piece set at a different dealer. Unfortunately, the price is €2200. That’s almost 3000 American dollars! Ugh. Too expensive for moi. Anyway, I am happy with the tea set.
This is my bedside table shrine to Gracie. I don’t care if people think it’s too much. I love that little girl more than life itself and I like to look at her literally… All day. The little green Moroccan glass is a gift from my friend Ann–Lise. She gave me a set of 12 of these little glasses from her trip to the souks of Morocco. I use them for tea and flower vases. Merci Ann–Lise! The little orange notepad is from Papier Plus in the 4th arrondissement. A gift from my friend Heather. Merci Heather!
This is my little bar in the salon. I don’t really drink so this remains mostly untouched. The tray table is from the BHV department store in the Marais. It’s basically Paris’s version of Bloomingdale’s. The rock crystal lamp and the little gold glasses are from Mis en Demeure in Paris. The little orange box I found years ago at an Algerian shop in Paris.
My black and gold tole tray with all of my goodies on it reminds me of home. My mother bought the tray years ago in Paris and may or may not have given it to me. Regardless, I have it and I love it. I have two little black Faberge frames with a picture of me all gorgeous in one and my darling Italian Greyhound dog, Ines, in the other. It used to have a picture of my husband but he infuriated me one day, so out his picture goes. I never put it back because I decided the dog was cuter. Sorry, bunny. The prayer beads come from all over the world. The Santos head is from a fleamarket in Provence. The Roman statue is from eBay. The other little candlestick is from a street peddler in Rome. All of the books I have bought here in Paris. I literally have hundreds of coffee table books in storage in Los Angeles. I could not bring them here because shipping cost would have been out of this world. So, this is all I have. Boo-hoo. Poor little Ellie without her coffee table books.
I love this little trio of pictures that I have. I have had them for years. I designed all of them. This is how… I found the two pictures of the Orientalist in a book, ripped out the pages, had them enlarged, had them custom matted with gold trim and a custom frame. The picture of Gandhi is from the Henri Cartier – Bresson exhibit in New York. I bought the book from the gift shop, ripped out the picture and basically did the same thing as the other pictures. Voilà! I’m pretty sure it’s illegal because these are copyrighted pictures but whatever. It’s not like I’m selling them. Anyway, that’s the story of that trio of pictures. Love them.
I would show you the other two bedrooms but my daughter has taken the extra bedroom for the summer. It’s a complete shit show in there right now with all of her clothes, shoes, school books and ugly posters that she thinks are great. The other guest bedroom is currently occupied by my friend Heather from Habitually Chic. Don’t worry, you’re not missing much.
There is a lot more that I would like to do with my apartment. Unfortunately, there is always the dichotomy of choice whether I pay my caregivers or paint the dining room with Farrow And Ball “Cook’s Blue“ paint. It’s a hard choice, trust me. I am also looking for Chinese blue and white jars. They are nowhere in Paris! The list of things I need for this apartment decor wise is endless. Raw silk curtains, entry hall banquette, chandeliers, a white peacock, chinoiserie boxes, oval dining room table, seagrass rugs, artwork, armoires etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah.
So that’s it. My apartment. I love it for all of its good qualities and put up with it for all of its bad qualities. Relationships are never easy and I am trying to “compromise” with this apartment. I think that’s very big of me, don’t you?