Updated: Feb 3, 2020
I've been living in mon petit appartement in the posh 5th arrondissement of Paris for just over a year now. It's 15 square meters, which equates to approximately 161 square feet. That's comparable to a guest bedroom with a half-bath ensuite in your average US suburban home.
Keeping the apartment from feeling too boxed-in is an oversized sliding-glass window that spans across the back wall. The window overlooks a private courtyard that's filled with green trees, grass, and shrubbery. This area houses a giant quail who I've named Dale. I've been told that based on his coloring and characteristics, Dale is actually a female pigeon. I am neither an ornithologist nor one to dictate gender, so identify as you wish sweet Dale.
Dale can be quite loud – making coo's and shaking branches – during what I can only assume is quail coitus. Thankfully, Dale is a pleasant little poultry ... he usually goes silent by sundown. The next-door neighbor does not show the same respect. A few nights per week, around 3 or 4 in the morning, the sound of lovemaking spills out into the courtyard and seeps into my apartment.
With every howl of pleasure comes the sound of flesh slapping together in an arrhythmic golf-clap cadence. To make it a truly multi-sensory experience, post-climax, a breeze usually flows through the courtyard to carry the scent of a celebratory cigarette into my apartment.
When you're thirty and attempting to build a love life in a new city (that's on par with a pigeon and some casaneighbor*), you have to take some steps to present yourself in a way that makes you appear to be somewhat of an actualized adult. This includes creating a space that feels warm and comfortable. It doesn't have to be perfect, but using a laundry basket as your hamper/desk/nightstand and dining table isn't considered "quirky" anymore.
*Casaneighbor | noun | kaz-uh-nˈneɪbə(r) – A contraction of the words Casanova and neighbor. Def. A neighbor with the love life of a 1700s author and adventurer from the Republic of Venice. Origin: Me, just now. And kind of Italian, I guess.
The apartment came lightly furnished with a hodgepodge of remnants leftover from the ghosts of tenants past. A collapsible table; a high school woodshop 102 solid-oak nightstand that's equipped with one broken drawer; a heavily water-damaged Ikea coffee table (it's that rectangular one that comes in black, white or birch veneer, for further reference see every first college apartment ever) and some other things that I've hidden under a bowed-in full-sized bed.
Since I'm not too familiar with French retail options, I started my quest by filling an online cart at everyone's favorite Scandinavian superstore. I got a scratchy jute rug and balanced it with a softer taupe shag. I paired the floorings with a grey convertible sofa, and some tan and canary throw-pillows.
Next up, the bathroom. I couldn't find what I needed on Ikea dot FR, so I headed over to Amazon for another haul. I decided that I was going to make my bathroom look like a goddamn Asian spa. I'm talking, BAMBOO EVERYTHING. Bamboo bath mat, bamboo toilet brush holder, bamboo toiletry casings, a bamboo TP holder. Bamboom baby! Sorry.
Unfortunately, when everything arrived in its excessive Amazon packaging, the results from this à la carte online shopping excursion were somewhat of a disappointment. Nothing quite matched. Like it was close, but in the way that black is close to really, really dark blue. Lesson learned.
the grown-up sh*t.
With the necessities in place, I set out to find those subtle items that trigger a prospect's sub-conscience into thinking that this is the clean and cozy residence of someone you'd want to do dirty things with. You know, dish towels, throw blankets, decorative bowls, art, candles and most importantly, PLANTS. Anyone who has thriving house plants is crushing it at adulthood.
Having checked Instagram for what's on-trend in the world of shabby-chic greenery (succulents, cacti, and anything viney or hanging), I strolled through the charming plant shops that populate every street in Paris. Not ready to go big but fully ready to go home, I picked out a mini succulent and a mini cactus.
The succulent is now dead and though the baby cactus seems to be fine in appearance, I fear that it is dead on the inside, likewise.
Not one to give up, I've double-downed and upgraded to two full-sized plants. A dragon plant (I've named him Zak & Wheezie) and some palm thing (I've named her Palmeranian). So far they seem happy with their new home.
To complete the transformation, I've added a few focal pieces. I got some vintage chairs from a friend of an ex and used the French Craigslist (Leboncoin) to purchase a cable reel to use as a coffee table.
So, for now, this is where the magic happens. It's a bit small, admittedly I've had better...but I like it. And if all goes right, I'll get the same reviews from my Tinder dates.