Marie Hennechart is a documentary-style photographer and self-described “good sport with a ready smile and updated Red Cross skills.” More often than not, she’s on the go—to cover a London and a Bay Area family swapping houses for Travel + Leisure magazine (which is where the two of us first crossed paths), or to Sicily or Tokyo to take portraits of walls for a project about the passing of time, or to Nablus, to work on the next in her cookbook series with Laurence Phitoussi.
Between trips, Marie circles back to her home base in Paris, a studio apartment overlooking the rooftops of Montmartre. She has occupied this perch for more than a decade—she bought it at a good price from a notary in her hometown in northern France (“a far relative died and the inheritor did not even care to see the place when he heard there was no bathroom.”) Join us chez Marie for a look at how she carved out not only a bath but a new kitchen, as well as a living and dining area, office, bedroom, and plenty of unobtrusive storage in 42 square meters (452 square feet) of barely divided space.
She gained additional space by removing two “not-very-pretty fireplaces.” Her work area with a Future Map of the world anchors one end of the room. Note the built-in cabinets that surround her desk: “A British friend, artist George Skelcher, was visiting while I was working on my flat. He sketched the storage and my amazing carpenter built it. I collect fabric and lots of other things, so my cabinets are very useful.”
Marie found her beachball-like hanging light at a flea market in Tel Aviv: “It’s Italian; I love its joyful presence.”
The portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat is from a Polaroid taken by photographer-designer Maripol; it evokes the years Marie was getting her start in NYC (post-high school, she trained under fashion photographer Kei Ogata). The white-on-white sculpted painting is by American artist Brooke Major.
Above L: A vintage hanger displays an embroidered hankie by artist Catherine Laroche. Above R: Another of Marie’s prized chairs: a Charlotte Perriand lookalike bought years ago at Paris’s Vanves flea market.
“I wanted a big living area and a small bedroom, so I had the wall built as far back as I could, and left it open on top.”
The bookshelf headboard made by Marie’s carpenter incorporates a cabinet where she keeps sweaters along with some bars of Mon Savon, “an old and cheap French soap brand—it perfumes the area with lavender, which keeps the moths away and helps me sleep.” The hand-painted pillowcase is by designer Nathalie Gervais—”one to watch,” says Marie.
Marie collects books but sticks to a minimalist wardrobe of five dresses: two by Japanese label 45 rpm, two by Remodelista favorite Margaret Howell, and a Marimekko. “That’s pretty much it, along with a few basics: sweaters and pants. When my dresses (except for the Marimekko) start to look a bit dull, I put them in the washing machine and dye them with a mix of navy blue and black—my homemade indigo.” She gets her shoes at Anatomica in the Marais: “I keep two pairs and re-buy them when they get too old.”
She got her polished chrome sink at Sopha, “a bath equipment store on Rue Blanche near Pigalle—it was a prototype and small enough that I remember carrying it home.” She uses her champagne bucket as a wastebasket.
Above L: The green hanging light, one of Marie’s favorite details in the apartment, was a €3 ($3.56) purchase from Ikea. Above R: In need of compact storage, Marie happened upon Joe Columbo’s 1970s classic Boby Mobile Office Organizer at a flea market. It holds her toiletries and supplies.