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New Paris Style: A Mother and Daughter Afloat


New Paris Style: A Mother and Daughter Afloat

Margot Guralnick July 18, 2014

Presenting our third great houseboat discovery of late: architect Valérie Mazerat’s stripped-down, industrial-chic barge in Paris that she shares with her young daughter, Margot. We found it in New Paris Style by Danielle Miller, a book that chronicles how the city’s creative class lives. The book offers a satisfyingly voyeuristic look into 27 pied-í -terres, houses, lofts, and ateliers. But we keep turning back to Mazerat’s quarters, an old Dutch barge converted into a houseboat. A wreck when Mazerat took ownership, it’s now a study in domestic simplicity, done up in a palette of earthy, straight-from-the-Seine colors. Of the Parisian life afloat, Mazerat told Miller: “It’s another world, which takes you far away from any semblance of the everyday. There is a sense of freedom that you don’t get living ashore, and time definitely slows down.” Join us for a leisurely look.

Photographs © Richard Powers, courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

Above: The boat’s main cabin was added by a previous owner who grafted a 1920s train carriage onto what had been a working Dutch barge built in the early 1900s. Mazerat, whose credentials include designing interiors for Merci (see Paris’s Most Exciting Shop), shored up the vessel and re-created it in her own image: simple furniture, a moody palette, and a rigorously edited collection of essentials–”you just can’t be frivolous.”

Above: The boat (the second vessel with a canopy on the deck) is moored at Bassin de l’Arsenal, a marina on a canal with views of the Place de la Bastille. And to add another romantic wrinkle, Valérie Mazerat’s architecture practice is in a boat that’s docked a short stroll away.

Above: The living room/dining room–almost entirely rebuilt by Mazerat–retains its train car feel. The family’s dining table overlooks twin daybeds that flank a wood-burning stove. In a space where every inch is precious, book shelves are inserted over the windows. The Butterfly Chair is from a trip to Morocco. (Learn about the history of the Butterfly Chair in our recent Object Lesson.)

Above: A Christmas decoration from Merci tops no-nonsense steel shelving. 

Above: Mazerat inserted a compact galley at the front of the barge. Its fittings and the dining table are custom built of steel, a practical choice and a nod to the craft’s industrial past. The chairs are vintage Arne Jacobsen.

Above: Mazerat unified the interior of the boat by painting it a rich charcoal gray. She masterfully uses the warm walls to set off eye-opening dashes of color–citrine curtains here, a purple dishcloth there.

Above: On warm nights, mother and daughter sleep on the deck on folding daybeds under a canopy. The linen on the beds is from Caravane. For similar mattress toppers, see Summer Slumbers: Hedge House Bedrolls.

Above: Yes, we all want this room. It belongs to Margot, and it’s kitted out with a winning trio: pale pink bed linens, a sheepskin rug, and a porthole window. Note Margot’s riding helmet on a hook. 

Above: The ships’ head is decorated with vintage travel mirrors and souvenirs from Morocco.

 Above: A portrait by photographer Serge Anton hangs above a 1950s Danish desk with an Arne Jacobsen chair.

Above: New Paris Style by Danielle Miller, photographed by Richard Powers, is available from Thames & Hudson for $40. Photograph courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

Have you seen our other houseboat posts? This Modern Houseboat in Berlin is available for overnight getaways. And if you like the look of The Ultimate Houseboat in NYC, go to our Steal This Look: The Summer Clubhouse.

To see our posts on other worthy design books, go to Required Reading. And if you don’t yet have a copy of Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, buy it here

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