For this San Francisco–based couple, a place in Paris was always a dream. It all began with a year the wife spent abroad during college, when she met her current husband. Fast-forward to today, and walking into this light-filled, top-floor apartment is breathtaking. With stunning views of both the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower, this gracious space immediately brings to mind the refrain location.
Before embarking on the search, the clients had enlisted their architect, Sandrine Teze-Limal, to help them. (The clients met Teze-Limal while they were in graduate school.) It didn’t take them long. The couple knew they had found their perfect getaway after opening the door to this fifth-floor space in the middle of the elegant 7th arrondissement. It had great bones in a historic building that had been owned by the same person for the past 50 years. Soon thereafter, the couple called on designer Benjamin Wood to help them with the interiors. The clients had met him over 20 years ago in Sun Valley, Idaho, where they were neighbors.
But the team had their work out for them. “The place was entirely gutted and it took a few years, but it now has heating and air-conditioning,” Wood says, looking back. “They wanted to keep the Parisian 18th-century but with all the modern aspects they were used to.” Fortuitously, Wood, who is based in Austin and has a pied-à-terre in the City of Light, was working on another project nearby when the couple contacted him, rendering an otherwise complicated, far-flung project a bit more seamless.
For the homeowners, active professionals with other residences, the key was to make it feel like home but retain its sense of place. “They are curious people and collect photography,” Wood remarks, pointing to a painting of Versailles by Robert Polidori, one of several works he helped acquire for the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. When an additional service room on the floor above became available, they combined floors and added a charming library upstairs.
“I wanted to help them create some memories,” says the English-American creative, noting special touches like a Christofle tea set found at the Paris flea market and a guest room appointed with paperback books about the metropolis.
Asked about his in design, Wood pauses in thought. “It just happened. Not to sound arrogant, but I seem to have design.”
In an American couple’s Paris pied-à-terre, designed by Benjamin Wood, a window was added to capture the view of the Eiffel Tower from the entrance. The custom window seat is in Sahco fabric and the custom moldings were designed by architect Sandrine Teze-Limal and Staff Espace Volume to hide all of the air-conditioning, heating, and vents throughout the apartment.
With views on the Invalides esplanade, the custom kitchen was designed by Sandrine Teze-Limal. The clients wanted a gourmet kitchen in the middle of the traditional architecture. Wood added the four jewel-like pendant lights called Briolette by Gabriel Scott and the Discus 4 hanging by Jamie Gray. Both were sourced from Triode Paris. The Richard Caldicott photograph is titled Anchovies and was purchased at the Paris Photo Fair. The plates on the wall were found at the Paris Flea Market.
The main salon, with gorgeous views on the Invalides, is flooded with light. The space is anchored by a 1990 painting from American artist Shirley Jaffe. The work was purchased specifically for this wall and Wood shares, “allowed for the opportunity to add some playfulness into what could otherwise be a very serious space.” The custom carpet with geometric elements is Donghia and the custom curtains are Rubelli with trim by Houlès, fabricated by Delapartdefred. Other elements include an antique mirror from the Paris Flea Market above the mantel, with a horse by Charles Paris. Scottie Stools by Pinto Paris and a bronze bust by Modigliani on a custom lacquer console by Laure Caye Decoration.