When a globe-trotting family of four decided to plant roots in a Paris apartment, they were looking for their new space to have an atypical aesthetic that reflected influences from their time in Italy and Asia.
“She wanted something very unique and very…not so Parisian,” Maxime Liautard, architect and cofounder of the emerging French design firm Liautard and the Queen, says about the family’s matriarch. “They told us, ‘We don’t want an apartment that we’ve already seen in a magazine,’” adds Soraya Djemni-Wagner, cofounder and associate director general of the firm.
Given the unique site, it wasn’t difficult for the two Studio KO alumni to depart from the quintessential Parisian look. They were working with three floors of an interior that had been built in the late 1960s—a rare red brick addition atop a classic stone Haussman building in Paris’s Eighth Arrondissement. Entrance to the home and its public rooms are on the second floor, while sleeping quarters are below. A second kitchen used solely for entertaining sits alone on the third floor.
“We had so much freedom to do what we want because there is nothing really typical inside,” Djemni-Wagner declares about the space. That meant no historic moldings, parquet floors, or traditional fireplaces to preciously tip-toe around. Instead of the familiar white-painted walls—used traditionally to amplify crown molding—soft, creamy tones dominate, providing cohesion throughout a home that marries a medley of styles. “We wanted to have something very different in each room. Very strong. And yet connect them together,” says Liautard.
In the primary suite, an intense fusion happens, evoking the feeling of being transported to an ancient world. Two halves of a moon-gate-style door—one enclosing the bedroom, the other a walk-in closet—come together, leading one through a dreamy archway into a bathroom. That space is tiled with green-and-white Roman-style marble and a travertine-clad bathtub bookended by two sinks. The oversized interior conveys opulence, but with a kind of quiet maximalism.
Nonetheless, the place where TV watching happens, or the “red room,” as Djemni-Wagner calls it, is a vibrant ode to the family’s Taiwanese heritage. “We wanted this room to be a tribute to [the client’s] roots,” she says, referencing the mother of the household. Red, lacquered wood helps to frame sections of richly tonal Asian-inspired embroidery on walls, while green velvet drapes match pillows that sit on a giant custom-made red couch. It is a sumptuously layered space with just the right amount of color and texture—“like a jewelry box,” Liautard states.
Freedom from historic detailing allowed the designers to accommodate a melange of flooring types that resemble a traditional Paris apartment—except the nod to Italy with terrazzo in the second kitchen—but certainly do not stick to the blueprint. Living room floors are made of dark, almost ebony plank hardwood; traditional black-and-white checkerboard foyer tiles have been turned smoke gray and white with contrasting veining; custom parquet covers the dining room; and a traditional herringbone pattern adorns the main kitchen—not with wood, but with two different colors of marble.
Even though the apartment’s unique narrative eschews typical Parisian decorative elements, it still exudes the charm and romanticism associated with French interiors. Similar to the decor found in many of the city’s apartments, furniture in the more than 5,000 square feet of space is an expert amalgam of the contemporary and vintage. Many pieces, like the green cabinets in the dining room and the massive, plush crescent-shaped living room sofa, are designed by Liautard and the Queen. These blend perfectly with the lamps and other vintage pieces picked up from Paris’s legendary St. Ouen flea market and sourced from Eastern Europe.
The entire apartment is a testament to the designer’s talent. Even though “we are not afraid of kitsch,” as they both confess, they still manage to deliver a home that is elegant yet fun, themed but not camp, and ticks every one of their client’s boxes.