ISSUE 3  |  French Class

Kitchen of the Week: Commune of LA Designs a Culinary Space in Paris

January 21, 2016 4:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

Edgy Southern California style meets French luxe in a Paris artist’s garret remodeled by Commune of LA. The commission came from Paula Nataf and her two sons, Franck and Alexis, who together founded Exquisite Surfaces, the LA-based tile and flooring company that offers several Commune-designed collections. The transcontinental family (Paula grew up in Tunisia and raised her kids in Paris before relocating with them to LA) use the 1,000-square-foot apartment as a pied-à-terre and a place for entertaining, so they wanted an Exquisite Surfaces showcase with a great kitchen.

Commune partner Steven Johanknecht oversaw the renovation. “Because the space is so compact, I designed it with lots of built-in millwork to unify the rooms,” he told us. “The oak and tile used in the living room are carried into the kitchen and beyond. It’s almost like a luxury cabin on a train or ship.” As for the LA-Paris combination, Franck says, “Both cities are such a huge part of our DNA, personally and professionally, so there was a conscious effort to include a California sensibility in this authentic Paris garret.”

Photography via Commune.

Paris pied-à-terre, a Right Bank artist's garret transformed by Commune of LA | Remodelista

Above: Pre-renovation, the space, located on the top floor of a historic building in the 17th Arrondissement, was in rough shape but came with classic atelier windows and skylights (now updated with double-pane glazing for insulation) and a mezzanine level (existing, but requiring a structural overhaul that included introducing windows to reference the artist’s studio history of the apartment).

Fully open to the kitchen, the living room features Lindsey Adelman’s 20-bulb Agnes Chandelier above a custom coffee table by California sculptor Alma Allen. The white leather armchair is Eileen Gray’s Transat design and the rug is Andrée Putman’s Two Lines from Christopher Farr.

A compact, luxe Paris kitchen designed by Commune of LA for the owners of flooring company Exquisite Surfaces | Remodelista

Above: In the kitchen, the living room’s wood floor—Exquisite Surface’s Manoir Flemish Gray Oak—meets Moroccan-made concrete tiles, the Zebra pattern from Commune’s Navajo collection for Exquisite Surfaces. Read about the tiles in Living in Black and White.

The kitchen island is made of Exquisite Surface’s honed and polished Petit Granite, a Belgian limestone, and the cabinets are in Belgian oak specially created for the project by the craftsmen who make the company’s floors. The designers carried on the wood theme with a pair of Tractor Barstools by BassamFellows. The vase on the island is an Ettore Sottsass design.

An unlacquered brass bridge kitchen faucet, paired with custom oak cabinets and Moroccan cement tile—both from Exquisite Surfaces—in a Paris kitchen designed by Commune of LA | Remodelista

Above: The kitchen cabinets are fitted with custom brass hardware by Nanz and BPS Design. The counter, like the island, is Exquiste Surface’s Belgian limestone, Petit Granite, and the unlacquered brass faucet is by Volevatch of France. (See 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ Go-To Traditional Faucets for more ideas.)

A compact, luxe kitchen in a Paris pied-a-terre by Commune of LA. Moroccan cement tiles are Commune design for Exquisite Surfaces| Remodelista

Above: The tilework continues up the walls as backsplash and bar shelf backdrop. The cooktop, oven, dishwasher, and wine refrigerator are all by Miele. Where’s the main fridge? The sink counter is fitted with refrigerator drawers by SubZero concealed behind oak fronts. (Looking for your own hidden fridge? See 10 Easy Pieces: The Best Under-Counter Refrigerator Drawers.)

Alfred Hendrickx sideboard in a Paris pied-a-terre designed by Commune of LA | Remodelista

Above: The cement tile extends into the entry, furnished with a vintage sideboard by Belgian designer Alfred Hendrickx and a Jacques Adnet brass lamp. The photograph, Golden Grassland, is by Ryan McGinley.

Curved stair in a Paris pied-à-terre, a Right Bank artist's garret transformed by Commune of LA | Remodelista

Above: Commune took inspiration from Le Corbusier in the curvy stair design, with blackened steel rail, Flemish Gray Oak treads, and plaster walls. It leads to the newly enclosed mezzanine, fitted with a bedroom and bath. The sofa is B&B Italia’s Omnia 2402 from the Maxalto Collection and the purple Utrecht Armchair is a Gerrit Rietveld design.

See more work by Commune, including a tiled kitchen in LA: