When living in a city with some of the most iconic architectural monuments in the world, inspiration is not hard won. Approached with a decrepit, dark apartment dating back to the 1890s, architect Flore Gustin of Amate Architecture immediately knew her muse: Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche. Coincidentally, Gustin’s client had once resided on the same street as this architectural icon, adding a welcome personal resonance for the home’s owner.

The primary goal for the 43sqm/463sqft apartment was to create a space that married functionality with a timeless ambience, infused with carefully chosen colour accents. To achieve this, Gustin proposed a compact yet functional floor plan, drawing inspiration from the 1920s modernist features of Villa La Roche, and Le Corbusier’s hallmark block-coloured walls. Two main features stood out to her that she wanted to emulate: the curved walls that allowed a natural flow of light and softened the interiors, and the striking shades of Prussian blue and terracotta accentuated by a minimalist white background.

Upon entering the apartment, the distinct use of Prussian blue paint and small tiles on the floor demarcates the entrance, creating a dramatic first impression. A prominent kitchen island lies immediately ahead, set apart from the rest of the minimalist apartment by a glossy blue-tiled countertop, skirting painted in the same shade of blue, and red terracotta-coloured cabinet fronts. These cabinets neatly conceal appliances such as the oven, dishwasher, and washing machine, to reduce visual clutter and preserve a minimalistic aesthetic.

A cylindrical stainless steel range hood hangs from the ceiling, visible from all angles of the apartment — a nod to the chrome accents typical of Art Deco interior design (a movement that was at peak popularity during the period of La Villa Roche’s construction).

One of the most innovative design choices was the integration of a large built-in storage wall crafted from light brown Okoume wood, running along the entire kitchen space and bathroom. The entrance itself is built into this storage wall, which discretely conceals most of the apartment’s bulk storage and large appliances, including a wardrobe, fridge, pantry, and more. This piece of custom joinery was designed specifically to maximise space in the apartment, allowing more natural light to flow into the entrance and the kitchen.

Another creative decision was taken to make one of the storage partition’s doors double as a bathroom door, swinging open to reveal a vanity and washbasin. When the vanity is concealed, a glossy bathroom is made accessible.

The vanity area is clad in the same vibrant Prussian blue tiles used for the kitchen benchtop and glossy terracotta-red tiles in the shower area mimic the kitchen island cabinets. For added contrast, the vanity’s blue tiles are lined with terracotta-red grout and the reverse treatment for the shower tiles.

On the other side of the apartment, a narrow passageway between the kitchen and curved bedroom wall leads diagonally into the living room, expanding the apartment’s perceived size. Natural light streams in from a street-facing balcony, the curved white bedroom wall allowing the light to reach even the darkest corners.

The airy living room is minimalistic, painted white to recede from the colourful kitchen — a technique Le Corbusier employed in his iconic building as well. An existing, non-functioning Prussian fireplace adds historic charm and texture to the room, painted mostly white except for a newly replaced red travertine top to match the repeating colour motif.

The single curved bedroom wall, reminiscent of the curved façades of Villa La Roche, gently guides guests through the apartment and divides the private and public spaces within the small home. Along the partition is a hidden door, almost invisible from the outside. Enveloped within the rounded wall, the bedroom “feels like a white, modernist cocoon”, with no other freestanding furniture apart from the bed itself. Instead, built-in shelves act as bedside tables and an integrated bench adds storage space while doubling as a window seat, all seamlessly blending into the white walls.

I think about my projects as a way of finding the best interpretation of something that is already here and making the best of the situation to design a plan that will be comfortable to live in. Less is more.

Flore Gustin

By building on what is already existing, Gustin has turned Jules into a true homage to a timeless building, evoking beauty in its simplicity and functionality.

Flore Gustin (architect) and the NTS team

For another minimalistic apartment in Paris adorned with similar shades of terracotta, check out Renovation D’un Appartement A Jourdain.

Images by NeverTooSmall & Simon Genillier Roelsgaard