Life in France,  Ramblings

Thriving in a tiny Parisian apartment

This post was most recently updated on July 20th, 2021

Making the most of the tiny space I live in .

It doesn’t seem like we are moving any time soon so I’ve decided to continue with the (small) apartment theme. 

I have lived in my fair share of apartments. The largest 1700 sq. ft. loft in Delaware, above a pizza shop with 2 roommates. I’ve lived in a 2-story 1000 sq. ft. town house with roommates, I’ve lived in a 2-bedroom, 850 sq. ft. apartment with just myself. I’ve never lived in a studio till I moved to Paris and it’s the smallest space I’ve lived in my almost 37 years existence on this Earth. 

If you know my story, you know that I moved into my husband’s 236 sq. ft. studio apartment one week before the world locked down for a pandemic. I had stayed with him on several occasions prior to that, usually on vacation. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but reflecting back on it maybe I should have started thinking on how to organise a tiny living space. 

Tiny Paris Apartment Effect

There is a side to Paris that not many realize is a common occurrence. The tiny Paris apartment. It’s not all grand, sprawling, spacious, entire floor apartments. They range in all shapes and sizes. The minimum required habitable size for one person is 9 m2 (97 ft2).

If you watched Emily in Paris on Netflix, she said she lived in a chambre de bonne (maid’s quarters). I snort-laughed when she called it that, because it’s pretty spacious for a chambre de bonne.  I can go more into detail about these rooms later, but the skinny is that they are a type of small, live-able space, anywhere from 6 to 12 square meters (65 to 130 square feet), located on the top floor (think attic) and there is no bathroom included in the room. These are usually located on the landing and are communal. I’m far from living in a chambre de donne, but I am living in the tiniest apartment ever. 

On the all and all, apartments with in the city are on the smaller side. If you want more space for your Euro, it’s best to look outside into the suburbs, out side the périphérique, the highway ring that surrounds the city and divides Paris proper and the burbs. But there seems to be something about these tiny apartments that is quaint and doable. I’m only getting antsy for more space because I’m a morning person and Thomas is not and sharing a studio apartment is a little rough in that aspect. 

Making the Most of It

Wall Space

Wall space is prime reality. You gotta thing high in order to make the most of your living space. Think of areas that are “dead space” in your apartment. These are spaces where you can’t really do anything with it… or so you think! For example, the area above a doorframe. Usually, there’s quite a bit of empty space just begging to be used. Why not turn this into a storage space for items you don’t need on a daily basis. 

My rule of thumb in all storage situations is that the higher you store it, the less frequently you need it. Keep things that you use on a daily/weekly basis within reach and/or eye level. That way you don’t have to go rummaging around for it when you need it. 

Wall space is a vast land of opportunity. You can put up shelves of all sorts and sizes. They can hold all sorts of things. When I came for my3-month stint before we tied the knot, Thomas installed a shelf on the one side of the kitchen that added extra storage space. He also added two smaller shelves that is my spice rack and our liquor shelf. This was a lovely addition because it also allowed us to add smaller shelves underneath that created extra storage space for my cooking supplies and ingredients. 

Storage Solutions

How you store your belongings is also key. There are so many unique and genius ways to store items. Have you looked at Pinterest lately ? It’s chalk-full of ideas and suggestions. Here are some of my favorite ones : 

  • Air-tight storage bags.
  • Storage bins.
  • Baskets.
  • Stackable containers.
  • Jars.

Storage solutions are something that will save you headaches, heartaches, and arguments. You will gain space and be organized at the same time. Muji is a great place where you can find a variety of options for storage containers of varying sizes. 

Multi-purpose/use items

Find items that can be used in multiple ways so you can use them to their fullest capacity. If you are short on space, look for items that can be used in multiple ways. I love my spring form pan because it is the perfect roasting dish for bones, also great for pies, desserts, and bread. I used it for quiche and tarts. If I could use it on my cooktop, it would be even more awesome. Think outside the box. How can you use that dutch oven in a different way ? 

Stocking your Parisian apartment

Shops, Boutiques, Stores, Locations.

Here’s a list of my favorite hot spots I like to frequent to see what they’ve got for the apartment. 

Website : https://www.bhv.fr/

Address : 52 rue de Rivoli  

Known as the Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV) and has everything from bed sheets, to pens, bath mats, yarn, books, pots, pans, coffee machines, vacuums, perfume, clothes, shoes. I think you get the idea. I like to go here for ideas and inspiration or for very specific items. 

Website : https://www.leroymerlin.fr/

Address : multiple locations

Think Home Depot, but French. If you are looking to do any sort of home improvement around the place, this is where you need to go to buy supplies. Great plant section as well. 

Website : https://www.edehillerin.fr/en/

Address : 18 et 20 rue Coquillière, 75001

My personal favorite for anything kitchen utensils. Family owned and have been around for years. You need it, they most likely have it. Do not be afraid to ask questions ; their index can be a bit confusing if you don’t know how to read it. If you’re in the industry, this is the place where you want to go to get your equipment/supplies. 

Website : https://www.labovida.com/

Address : 36 rue Montmartre, 75001

Another “all-in-one” kitchen supply store. They have a wide selection of paper products if you are a home cook/baker and need supplies, this is a good place to check out first. They have a great pastry supply selection as well for my fellow pastry chefs. Good for the home-cook, as well as some options for the professionals. 

Address : 48 rue Montmartre, 65002

A third and final great selection if you’re looking for supplying your kitchen. Good selection of utensils, glasses, dishes, as well as pots and pans, and anything else you could think of. A mix of professional and home-based items. 

Website : https://www.muji.eu/?lan=fr

Address : Multiple locations .

This is the Japanese version of The Container Store. They have so many options for storage that come in a durable plastic that are so easy to clean and go with any theme you have going on in your home. They also have a clothing section as well as linens and towels and the like. They are minimalist Japanese so there isn’t a lot of fuss about these guys. Affordable pricing. 

Website : https://www.ikea.com/fr/fr/

Address : Multiple locations. 

It’s Ikea. Do I need to write anything about this ? Thankfully Paris now has 2 locations located within the péripherique. 

Website : https://www.habitat.eu/

Address : Multiple locations .

A home goods store with a little bit of everything. Anyone remember Pier 1 Imports? Yeah, I’m getting those vibes a little too. They have a little bit of everything. A good place to roam to help spark those creative vibes needed if you’re moving. 

Website : https://www.maisonsdumonde.com/

Address : Multiple locations .

Another home goods store that has about everything you would need to furnish a bedroom, bathroom, living room and dining room. Prices are affordable ; depends on your taste and budget. 

Website : https://www.hema.com/fr-fr

Address : Multiple locations. 

The go-to if you’re on a tight budget in terms of kitchen supplies, they have the basics. Also super affordable towels and linens, plants, food, and other little bits and bobs. Great if you’re looking for something in a pinch. 

Website : https://www.boutiquelesfleurs.com/

Address : Two locations . 

The location on rue Trousseau has the best vintage furniture as well as a great stock of house plants and other household items. Absolutely worth visiting both shops; a gem that I’m glad I discovered randomly. If you’re looking for something unique, that will add an extra pop, this is the place for you. 

Depending on your wants/needs/tastes ultimately depends on where you buy your items. One must not forget the insanely large amount of brocants and puces (flea markets) you find in Paris and beyond. During the warmer weather, you will find brocants happening almost every weekend.

And do not forget the flea markets of St Ouen. I still have yet to make it out and am very scared for my bank card. If you knew me back in Ohio, I am an antiquing, thrift-store loving shopaholic. I am very excited to be able to find some vintage doo-dads to furnish our next place with !

I have slowly been adding my touch to our little studio apartment and it feels like home . Thomas has added a few fixtures here and there to optimize the small space. We’re doing fine for 230 square-feet apartment living. I am looking forward to the day that we are able to move into a bigger space where we can create a space together. 

What are some of your favorite places to shop for items for your living space ? Have a place that’s your go-to ? 

How have you organized your space to optimize it to maximum capacity ? 

Share your thoughts, tips, tricks, and discoveries in the comments below ! 

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