When I first moved to Paris, I stayed in an AirBNB by Porte de Clignancourt for a week, hosted by a Parisienne who was vacationing in the south of France. It was small, but perfect: Haussmannian floor-length mirror, tiny bathtub, balcony filled with flowers, framed prints of vintage posters, and a little bedroom tucked behind a sliding door with a comfy doublebed and a makeshift wardrobe filled with well-chosen dresses, tops & shoes.
It’s then I realized that there is one thing Parisians are very good at, and that is making the most of the French capital’s notoriously tiny living spaces.
Unless you’ve got a considerable income, chances are if you’re moving to Paris you’ll be living in a little apartment. While some might imagine this to be cramped, I actually have found it to be rather freeing.
I hadn’t brought many things with me to Paris – only a few suitcases worth of clothing and a collection of wicker baskets (I’m not joking) – and continuously moving paired with consistently small quarters ensured that I wasn’t accumulating a surplus of items as the months and years went on.
The end result? An apartment far from the Parisian perfection that was that AirBNB, but one that is still carefully put together in its own way.
I only have a small wardrobe and limited storage space, so I need to be careful about over-shopping, am forced to sell off some things from time to time, and hesitate before purchasing a new piece. I also only have one bookcase and a single desk, which means little space for knick-knacks – instead, I put only my favourite prints and finds from my travels & favourite flea markets on display. I don’t have a linen closet so I have only two sets of sheets and towels, but the ones I have I saved up for and ensure are of good quality (so as to withstand frequent washings). My kitchen is minuscule so I don’t overstuff my few shelves, and I purchase my food fresh every other day. And to bring life to my little living space, I frequently fill it with plants and flowers, and scrub it clean on a weekly basis to make sure everything remains nice and orderly.
In fact, I’d say the only real “clutter” I have is that from my cat, whom my boyfriend and I spoil mercilessly with little toys and treats. However, even those can be neatly stored away in his cat tree and put out of sight.
I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist by any means, but Paris has forced me to live more minimally. I’m not mad about it, either. I don’t live in a well-edited apartment that looks like something off of Pinterest – I have eclectic taste and love colours and prints and shelves filled with books and picture frames – but I’ve managed to take my 25m2 and turn it into a comfortable living space that doesn’t feel suffocating in the least.
It gives me hope that perhaps one day, I’ll have an apartment as perfectly Parisian as the one I first stayed in, and that I’ve dreamed about since moving here.