November 30, 2015

Brooklyn’s Nous Studio Recruits Local Artisans for French Apartment

When a professor of organizational sciences, Sylvie Lucas, decided to leave Paris and move back to her childhood home, Trouville-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast, choosing an architect for the renovation was a snap. A close friend’s daughter, Blandine Seguin, had recently left her job designing Apple Stores to start Nous Studio. True, it was based in Brooklyn, New York, but Lucas didn’t worry about the long-distance logistics. Seguin recruited skilled local artisans to form a cohesive construction team, and Lucas contributed her in-depth knowledge of the property—this was the exact apartment where she grew up. 

> See the project’s resources here

It already had compelling advantages: a location in a 1939 building, a half-timbered landmark; an appealing 1,300-square-foot layout, anchored by a central corridor; and original oak floorboards in near-perfect condition, having been protected for decades by carpet and rugs. “We kept the bones but modified the skin,” Seguin says. That meant using traditional wood and plaster in strikingly contemporary ways.

The central corridor’s load-bearing walls had to stay, but she shifted the doorways into alignment and increased their height to the same level as a floating ceiling with cove lighting. She both shortened the corridor physically, turning the far end into a walk-in closet hidden behind a door, and lengthened the expanse again visually by cladding the closet door in mirror. On the sidewalls, molded plaster creates a light-and-shadow stripe effect, a wink at Trouville’s postcard-perfect beach furniture.

White oak appears throughout, from the corridor’s doors to the master suite’s slatted headboard-divider. (More stripes.) And everywhere things look afloat. Take the master bathroom’s suspended mirror and the master bedroom’s bed, set on glass feet that are almost invisible.

Stripes aren’t the only pattern. Lengths of molding crisscross the ceiling of the asymmetrical, pentagonal living room to define subtle triangles. Much splashier are the powder room’s feature wall, a trompe l’oeil cube composition incorporating mirror, and the kitchen’s wall and floor tile, a combination of black-and-white pinwheels and gold-leafed crystal perpendicular lines.

The latter is a decorative glimmer of Lucas’s time spent in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the transparent “glacier” blue of a built-in bench in the guest bathroom evokes her voyages to Antarctica, and leather pulls on cabinets recall her love for fine antique luggage. In the master bedroom, there’s even a painting of an airport departures board, with destinations as remote from Normandy as Tokyo and Buenos Aires.

> See the project’s resources here

Project Team

Lambert: Structural Engineer. Jacky Marie: MEP. Menuiseries Des Trois Rivieres: Woodwork. Gypse: Plasterwork. Atelier Trans’Bois: Flooring Contractor. Tragin et Associes: Tile Contractor. BLC Creations: Solid-Surfacing Contractor. Leygue Amenagement: Drywall Contractor. Tranquille Gilles: Painting Contractor.

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