Furnishing your Paris apartment creatively and on a budget

Furniture

Ikea is practical, intelligent, not too expensive and usually looks good. It is not a bad way to furnish your Paris apartment. But you do have to first bring it home then spend hours putting it together (unless you call someone to do it for you – see the Services section). But perhaps you’d like something different in your Paris apartment, after all everyone shops at Ikea – it is far from unique. Here are a few ideas for some personalization that doesn’t cost too much.

FUSAC For Sale ads and other websites are a treasure trove of used items. If you find an ad for a moving sale just after it goes up you can possibly furnish a whole Parisian apartment at once! And more than just furniture you’ll find the practical items like small appliances and ironing boards for a song. If you find more than you can carry give a quick call to one of the man with a Van ads to schedule a pickup (again see the Services section).

Izidore: Is the online « garage sale » or vide-appartement. It is a secure way to buy and sell used furniture online. Sellers post a photo of a room and designate everything in it that’s for sale with a virtual price tag. Sales are shown on a map as well and you can search by specific items such as canapé-lit or table. Some sellers offer extra discounts if you choose several items. You visit the apartment online, pay via the site then go get your purchase. The only drawback is not being able to thoroughly inspect the item up close before buying, but the site does mention that if you are not satisfied you’ll be reimbursed, but it isn’t clear how this works.

If you fancy something vintage, have a look at Selency.

YOURSE is a digital platform for rental and sales of iconic furniture from designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. They rent individual and professionals timeless designer furniture – whole rooms or single pieces. You enjoy these pieces of furniture by paying only for their use. At the end of the rental you have the possibility of becoming the owner or returning the furniture so it can be rented out again or swapping for a new look. Yourse also delivers and installs. It’s not cheap but it is a way to have an eyecatching Eames, Le Corbusier, Gropius or Gehry chair, couch or table as a center piece.

Then have a look at some DIY ideas.

Wine box computer stand

Wine Boxes

When you purchase wine ask the merchant if they have any of the wooden wine boxes available. You don’t have to buy the whole case of wine, just ask for an empty box. They are an excellent resources that is likely to be just thrown away. My brother-in-law enjoyed the ones he saw here so much that he broke them down and took them back home to Michigan where he put them back together and uses them for storage. Other than storage you can turn a large one (12 bottles) on end and voilà en end table or bedside stand. Put a stack of books in the bottom for weight (and storage). Or stack three smaller ones kittycorner for the same effect. Use a box for planting an herb garden on your balcony. Others can become drawers when placed on a shelf. Wine boxes are solid and decorative. And of course have the cachet of France.

Fruit box table

The French company Simply-a-Box will ship you wooden boxes inspired by apple crates and you can simply combine them to make any piece of furniture you want. The even have packages ready to furnish a whole studio for example for 406€. The boxes either comes in bare wood or stained. You can decorate them if you want or leave them bare. The wood is from sustainable French forests. https://www.simplyabox.fr/

https://www.simplyabox.fr/

Flea Markets

When I was a student a friend of mine was looking ahead and had a goal of finding a set of silverware for the home that she would one day have and thus she would have a beautiful table and a long lasting souvenir of her time in Paris. She wanted real silver but of course did not want to spend a huge amount of money. So she kept an eye out at the flea markets. She bought one place setting at a time. It didn’t matter to her if they matched. I think she would get one setting of 5 pieces that matched within the setting, but the whole service for 8 would be 8 different settings. She also found a soup ladle and other service pieces. I took a twist on this myself with glassware. The wine glasses on my table are all different shapes, colors and styles. They go together because they are all different and it makes for a striking table. These collections allow you to select the lonely unmatched piece at a stand which is a bargain because it no longer is part of a set. They are often of high quality and you can imagine the stories they would tell you of the tables they graced previously.

Auctions

Combine furniture shopping with a trip to an auction house and you’ll have a very Parisian day out as well as furnishings for your Paris apartment. Anyone can visit an auction house just to look and if you are inspired to bid just note the time and date and come back. Drouot for example is one of the oldest houses in Paris and it is a real Parisian experience to visit. Drouot proposes a unique model that brings together 74 auction houses and over 2000 professionals under one roof. Open to all tastes and preferences, Drouot stands out for its large scale of 500,000 objects proposed each year, offering an incomparable access to the art world to 5,000 daily visitors, from grand collectors, to amateurs, to novices.  Auctions also take place online.

Did you buy a dresser or cabinet at Ikea after all? Dress it up with some special knobs. Vintage ones can be found at the flea markets or the BHV has a fabulous variety. The whole style of a basic white piece of furniture can be changed by changing the knobs. Search « Ikea Hacks » online for some ideas. Then it is time to decorate your walls.

Walls:

Reflections in Autumn, Paris IV, Autumn 2020
Photo by Judith Bluysen

Photographs

Parisian photographer Judith Bluysen offers photos of Paris with a contemporary view. Street photography is her passion and she captures moments in time, impressions and candids that will bring a smile or a sigh of contentment.

If you would like some historical photos for your walls you’ll enjoy the site http://vergue.com/. Vergue offers photographic treasures that have been restored and carefully documented from the birth of photography to the 1930s. Works by photographers Gustave Le Gray and Charles Marville are strongly represented, but also Atget, Nadar, Agence Rol and many others. The photos are in high resolution and can be downloaded for free.

Prints and posters

Check out Martinez Fleurot Gallery at 97 rue de Seine 75006. They carry prints, posters, engravings from past and present. You can find a really cool historic scene, scenes of Paris, beautifully drawn vegetables, posters from a world’s fair, maps just to name a few of their classifications. They are not that expensive and they are not all 19th century, there’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau and even more recent art. For example I found a world’s fair print nicely framed for 60€. https://martinez-fleurot.com/

Old post cards of Versailles framed

Old postcards

There are always postcard vendors at the brocantes, but also at the weekly Used and antique book market at Parc Georges Brassens. It takes place on Saturdays and Sundays. Choose a few from a special town or region and group them in one frame. Visitors to your place will love to peer at them and talk about them. You can do the same with engravings or bookplates.

Parisian paintings 

A painting doesn’t have to be huge nor expensive to have an impact, but if you can have a spotlight on it it will really jump off the wall. Perhaps choose a watercolor of rooftops by Isabelle Corcket or a warped view of a Paris building by American Parisian Linda McClusky. Art is a great investment in that you can take it home with you as a long lasting souvenir of your Paris apartment when you leave.

PS: rearrange your wall decor now and again you’ll be surprised how it all looks new as you’ll start noticing and enjoying it again.