interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: gabriel wick and olivier

by anne

our parisian peek of the day takes us to a napoleonic-era townhouse in the marais, which is home to landscape architect gabriel wick and his partner olivier, who works in communications for a cultural foundation.  three years ago gabriel fell in love at first sight with the space, and nicely, met olivier the same week, so there is this sense that their relationship and living-space have co-evolved in a parallel fashion (the apartment was at the heart of their marriage celebration two months ago). the apartment is made up of two former bedrooms with the dividing wall broken down, yet remains spatially defined by the difference in style of the plasterwork.  culturally, this sort of loft-style living arrangement is something whose charm is largely lost on the french – a lot of visitors ask if they want to  divide the space up with a screen or a curtain, but gabriel and olivier like waking up to a bright wide-open view of things. we hope you fall in love with this space as much as we did! click here for additional, full-sized images. {thanks, gabriel and olivier!}anne

{photos by braden perkins}

[above: The other thing that we collect are portraits, and we love to have this eclectic family of other people’s ancestor surveying our dinners. My parents were antique-dealers for a time and our house was always a bit of a warehouse for the portraits that nobody else wanted, usually because they were a little funny-looking. After a couple of years, you build up quite a familial bond with the sitter and the life-story that you’ve built up for them. They all have names, ‘the painter’, ‘the poet’, ‘Uncle Silas’, ‘Uncle Frederick’, and imagined biographies that tend largely to dictate the order in which they are hung: at some point we reached the conclusion that «the poet » was longingly in love with « Hedda », and seems that little bit more tortured when they are not hung next to each other.]

We benefit a lot from the fact that Olivier’s parents have wonderful taste in furniture: the Sarinen table and tulip chairs and the extremely comfortable chesterfield couch all came from the apartment that they furnished as newlyweds thirty-years ago. They all took very different paths, passing through the houses of various members of Olivier’s family, before ending up here with us. I was initially dead-set against the table, being foolishly devoted to a very stolid  Empire-style table, but the moment we got it in here the table and chairs just belonged there so perfectly.

The marble-top brings so much reflected light into this corner of the apartment. I had only ever seen these tables with a very frigid-white marble top, but this one has the most wonderfully rich alabaster-like depth with a very colorful veining.  We were lucky in that the original cushions were in a great condition and went really well with the apartment.

The leather chair feels like it should come with its own pipe-smoking Jungian analyst. People don’t really tend to sit in it very much, not, I think because it is uncomfortable but because it seems to have so much of a human personality already that sitting on it seems somehow cruel.

The drafting table is the latest addition: we found it looking forlorn in an architectural-salvage shop in Brussels. Its purchase was the subject of contentious debate for the entire weekend. We were worried that the apartment was already too cluttered, but it seemed to slip right into the perfect place, creating a bit more of a barrier between the sleeping and living areas of the apartment. I had not had a drafting table since I was at school at Berkeley, and I love being able to work at a distance from the computer, drawing by hand and in the sun.

CLICK HERE for the rest of gabriel & olivier’s sneak peek after the jump!

When Olivier first moved in he forbade my bringing any more brown or cream-colored things into the apartment. Despite his best efforts, it is all brown. But I do love how worn wood and leather have such a great texture and mana to them.

I found the welder’s stool and the writing-table at the most mysteriously wonderful antiques  store in all of Paris, L’art du Temps on the Rue de Charonne, right when I first got here. I lived in a tiny furnished studio that was kitted out entirely in vintage off-white Ikea. The stool, table and I felt like a band of partisans.

The apartment essentially has no storage space, so finding this 19th-century steamer-trunk was a real god-send. It is oil-cloth over wicker, and looks like it is straight from Shackleton’s attic. I am sure that there could be some ugly Freudian interpretation of our storing everything in suitcases, but I take it as just an incitement to weekend train travel. 

We built the bookshelves ourselves, in a massive hurry, so nothing quite lines up. This is why I am a landscape architect rather than someone who deals with load-bearing structures. We don’t have a car, so we had to push three cartloads of wood on a borrowed trolley through the tight streets of the Marais. It was a riot because the wood kept on falling out all over the street, impeding traffic, but I am glad it is over. 

The massive map is a reproduction of Turgot’s 1737 plan of Paris. Despite what anybody says, Paris has changed very little since then, so the map is still somewhat valid for navigation. When I first moved here I used to go running a lot and then spend the evenings tracing out my route and figuring out the names of the churches and hôtels that I had seen.

The shelf rests on a bracket which is concealed by the cover of the bottom-most book. It is nice having a stack of paperbacks standing at the ready for a night in bed with a novel.

The lamp is an old slide-lamp from one of the Science-schools nearby, we found it at this great little lighting store on the rue du Vertbois. As it projects a fairly focused beam of light it is another great asset for nocturnal reading.

This lamp is adapted from a 1930’s space-heater. It was made by this wonderful artisan (Après Réflexions, on the rue Henri Monnier) who converts salvaged objects to new uses. It projects a marvelous reflected light onto the map and the wall that lights up this whole side of the apartment.

The kitchen that was here when we moved in seemed to have been conceived solely as a space to mix cocktails. It took a couple of months and a lot in electrician’s bills to get a space adapted to cooking. Cooking in an open apartment like this means that every guest gets involved in the process. It is really nice. We especially like that the kitchen is a bit of a circus while the rest of the apartment is so restful and staid.

Originally we were storing things just in stacked wine boxes, but then we found this very cool shelving system that had been invented for wine cellars.

We like the way that different corners of the apartment feel almost like separate rooms despite the fact that there are no real barriers between them – for me, this is what makes the space feel like a theater set. The really-worn parquet also ties everything together really nicely. The drawback to these beautiful windows is that the apartment is woefully unheated and uninsulated. The fireplace is a bit of a consolation, in that at least it projects an appearance of warmth in winter, but generally from December through April our friends keep their coats on.

The old tenant left this ruin of a clock and neither of us have had the heart to displace it from the mantle-piece. My mom found us the drink’s tray, it is from the old Raffle’s Hotel in Singapore. Oli made me the lamp behind for my birthday.

When a friend of ours told us that having the speakers of our record player elevated would vastly improve the sound-quality, I was initially in despair – I don’t really like the way speakers look. But then one Sunday morning, we realized that we could open up massive new amounts of shelf space by stacking big coffee-table books under the speakers. Initially I was all set to build something, or buy some stacking device, but then we realized that a stack of hard-covers are about the last thing in the world to need structural support. Now the underside of the chair has also become a natural place to hide records.

It took a long time to find the right chandelier. When we hung this one, it was incredible how much it became a pivot that tied the entire space together. Until that point the plaster rosette had just seemed like a piece of pointless ornament, but then spatially it became a point of focus. We found this one at a flea-market and replaced its wiring with candles. As the apartment has two massive over-mantle mirrors this overhead flickering light is reflected and magnified in a really magical way.

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  • ahhhh …these parisian floors… This is a beautiful home, makes me nostalgic. I love its masculin look, but with a great soft feeling. Wonderful.

  • I’m not sure which I love more about this sneak peak: the space itself, or your description of that space. A delight to read and see!

  • Very much a delight to read and see. And, making me even more regretful of my Paris trip-that-never-was thanks to that volcano!

  • I love the worn leather and patina on the wood. One cannot age things in a flash. It takes time. Beautiful plaster work is sometimes taken for granted in Europe but not here in the States.

  • An exceptional sneak peek into a gorgeous apartment and many wonderful stories! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • what a lovely home! i adore all of the brown, the wonderful stories, the floors. it seems like a very happy place to live.

  • Lovely stories, lovely aesthetic, a boyish mix that comes together in perfect balance!
    I want to pay a visit to l’Air du temps… demain! And love the washer tucked under the curvy-legged table!

  • Love love love your drafting table – it would be heaven to have a big sunny space to draw at!

  • this is a good friend of my sisters and he so graciously hosted me and my family a couple of years ago when we were in Paris… it was soooo cool and made me love Paris even more – and we really did all pitch in to help with dinner! (although it was the old kitchen while I was there, and I primarily stayed by the Saarinan sipping wine and eating manchego & quince – which he introduced to me that night!) Makes me miss it all over again – a truly magical night in a magical Parisian apartment!

  • LOVE the Oxfordian clutter – SO many of the Oxford Dons I knew had houses just like this – beautiful, nostalgic surroundings.

  • I love this… a perfect example of how to live with a lot of beautiful things: books, art, etc, without appearing cluttered. It’s cozy, charming and fresh all at the same time!

  • I loved reading the clever and personal descriptions of these photos. They totally drew me in.

  • the space itself is beautiful with the detailing on the walls and around the chandelier. add in the delicious overstuffed bookshelf and cozy pieces…this place is great!

  • Great atmosphere in your apartment gabriel & olivier and a great use of the light.

    Where abouts did the 3 book clock come from, it’s so cute in the shelves!

  • oh la la! Loving the obvious- floors, portraits, etc- but the details! The candlesticks on the marble table top (Can I say anymore about the marble itself?) are fantastic and the Chateau Oliver crate is the best! I wish I could find Chateau Debbie.

  • I LOVED this post! I’m studying abroad in Paris right now and my homestay shares so many characteristics with this space: the wood floors, moldings, ceiling, and the mirror taking up the entire space above the fireplace (which i am lucky enough to have in my bedroom). One thing that is different is the open space! While I love where I am living and the family I am with I would prefer to live in a more open space. My appartment here is basically a large hallway with rooms off of it..far more common in Parisian appts.

    Also, those floor to ceiling windows are to die for! (& the marais is such a lovely area..jealous!) Great pick this week! :)

  • what an interesting mixture! i love it. it is so organic. you can just walk in, grab a book and be right at home…

  • That floor: sigh. This whole house is so warm, so alive, so eclectic!
    And may I just compliment both the writer and the photographer? The text was a pleasure to read, and the images are stunning.

  • amazing. absolutely beautiful. It made me miss Paris so much. there are so many close up shots and it’s hard to get an idea of the actual space and layout!!!

  • Oh those books!
    And that kitchen!
    Those shelves! Those plates!
    I’m in love.

  • superbe, tout est superbe et cosy !
    lovely appartement where you’d like to stay ;)
    bonne continuation G&O !

  • Where on earth did you find the wine crate storage system?? It is exactly what I need to find and I love it!!!

  • Wow. Love the floors. Fantastic artifacts that fit wonderfully in a what looks like a warm, lived-in-and-loved home.

  • Hello all,

    Thank you so much for your appreciative posts! We were touched. I just wanted to answer some of the questions on where we found some of the things:

    The wine crate shelves are from the Paris department store BHV. They were a little pricey, so it might be just as easy to find someone to fabricate them. I’m going down there this week, so I will try and find the name of the fabricator and post it here.

    The Knoll table is a vintage piece from the 80’s that we were given by Oli’s parents; I don’t know if they still have that marble as an option — I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

    Lastly, the clock made out of books: We found it at a great store called SAM, also in Paris. This is a link to their site (they speak excellent English and are very friendly — definitely a good stop if you’re in Paris): http://www.samconceptstore.com/fr/horloge-livres-1.html.

    Anyway, thanks again for all of the positive feed-back.


    Gabriel & Olivier

  • The pictures of your apartment gives another dimension to this one and transcends its beauty. Every object, every photo, every painting, each print shows your taste and your passion for art. I love you. Dad.

  • The floors, the portraits, the worn furniture, the books, the marble covered table, the large mirrors, and the huge map go beautifully together and make a chic Paris apartment. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • C’est bien simple, j’adore tout… Mais là je ne vous apprends rien… Des objets choisis avec goût mais surtout avec amour ne peuvent que vivre heureux ici. C’est ce qui donne cette belle harmonie, c’est ce qui fait qu’on s’y sent bien. Bravo à vous deux – vous vous complétez parfaitement.
    Bises, Mam’/Erika
    * blog très sympa, que j’irai dorénavant explorer régulièrement

  • Oh my. The floors, the ceiling height!, the moldings, the bookcases, the mirrors, and how everything fits in the space is a marvel. Well done. And that sweet note from your father? Priceless.

  • Absolutely perfect. Modern, chic, intelligent “non-designed” design.

    Only for a few by a few… :)

  • Paris…parquet floors…everything about this place I adore. How did I miss it the first time around???

    Bravo Gabriel & Olivier!

  • This enchanting home is a reflection of its’ makers..warm, genuine, intelligent.
    I would love to meet Olivier and Gabriel and have dinner here :)

  • Congratulations for Gabriel and Olivier.It only shows that if you have the passion for art and designs no matter how vintage your stuff’s are, they will look lovely and adorable if we maintain care to those vintage stuff’s we have.My warmth congratulations for Gab and Ol for sharing this vintage design yet pretty much COOOOLLLL and good to look and stare at.

  • This is one of the better posts you have done in a long time. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the all white minimalist homes you have been featuring of late. So, even though this home has a lot of white walls, it also has a lot of personality with unique objects and wonderful personal stories. Thanks for sharing this home.

  • I feel as though I know Oliver and Gabriel,after reading this exquisite post.
    My son too,has an apartment in the Marais,and his would be like theirs with the walls gone!They are talented,live so well,and sound happy with their lives! Agreed,this is a Brillo(!) of a sneak peak…Merci Beaucoup.