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Apartment Makeover: Before & After in Erica’s Montmartre Studio

Hip Paris blog friend and fabulous resource on all things Paris, Parisien Salon, recently stayed in our little Montmartre studio and published this article about our very own Erica Berman and her amazing job renovating Pilleux, Haven in Paris’ cozy Montmartre studio. We are pleased to share the story and the before-and-after shots here.

Paris Pilleux Montmartre Studio ViewView from Pilleux Montmartre Studio


Erica Berman has a gift. She can look at a crumbling shell of a hovel and see its potential as a beautiful apartment. This gift has served her well over her 18 years living in Paris, as she’s renovated upwards of 15 apartments that started out as “blah” (at best), only to be transformed into “wow.”

Pillexu far wall after renovations
Pilleux Wall before renovations Pilleux Studio – Murphy bed with antique doors, after and before

Her most recent project really put her abilities to the test, as she and her partner Alain renovated a small studio overlooking the Cimetière de Montmartre. Having stayed in what is now a fantastic apartment, I was stunned when Erica shared the story of its evolution.

“There was nothing there but the bones when we bought it,” explains Erica. “Just a shelf.” Looking at some of the “before” photographs also reveals peeling walls, unremarkable floors and an enclosed bathroom that cut the space dramatically. “There was nothing in there we wanted to keep,” she adds.

Erica and Alain worked with an architect to determine the best way to use the space. Once they agreed on the layout, they got to work with a contractor.

pilleux-kitchen-renovation separate
Pilleux Studio, before: bathroom/kitchen
Pilleux Kitchen & Bath layout before renovations
Toilet layout before work
Pilleux kitchen after renovationsPilleux studio after renovations: kitchen, bathroom

The old bathroom was completely knocked out. The new plan split the space so that the toilette was enclosed near the apartment’s entrance, with the shower and sink opening to the rest of the apartment.

Paris Apartment Renovation: Montmartre Pilleux Studio, After
Pilleux Studio, after: Kitchen

“We decided not to add a door to the bathroom because we thought it worked better,” says Erica. They also decided to keep the glass shower door transparent. “You can see Sacré-Coeur while you’re in the shower, which is pretty amazing.” (Note: the W.C. is enclosed and separate)

Paris Apartment Renovation: Montmartre StudioPilleux studio bathroom/kitchen: before and after
Paris Apartment Renovation: Toilet before and afterPilleux WC: before and after (WC was flipped to face entrance)

The renovation included adding a surprising amount of cupboard and closet space, along with shelves and a modern kitchen with a sink, convection cooktop, oven, refrigerator and a washer/dryer duo. There’s also a sofa that doubles as a twin bed, but the most delightful surprise in this apartment is the Murphy-style bed.

Paris Apartment Renovation: Montmartre studioPilleux window and desk overlooking Montmartre cemetery: before and after

Antique doors Erica found in Provence hide the bed during the day and add a distinctive accent to the space. Alain crafted the bed himself, fashioning “feet” for when the bed is pulled down from the hooks that serve as handles. He also spent countless hours cleaning the tiles that edge the kitchen space.

Paris Apartment Renovation: Montmartre StudioPilleux studio murphy bed, made with antique doors (after)

After three months of work, the renovated apartment was completed, filled with wonderful objects Erica found at the Provence and Paris flea markets. The next challenge—or so Erica thought—would be the location of the studio.

Paris Apartment Renovation: Montmartre StudioPilleux studio entrance way: before and after

“We thought that because it’s off the main tourist track, we’d have a harder time booking the apartment,” says Erica. “We were wrong.” In fact, the apartment has proved one of Haven in Paris’ most popular. From my experience of staying there, it’s easy to understand its appeal. It offers a magnificent view, has all the conveniences of a modern apartment, and all the charm of what one expects to find in Paris.

But, more than that, this apartment offers an authentic Paris experience. Stepping through the gates of Cité Pilleux and walking past the artisans and artists who set up shop along the path makes one feel like they’ve been afforded insider access to the real Paris. The apartment straddles Montmartre and the trendy Batignolles neighborhood, and a leisurely stroll reveals wonderful restaurants and boutiques frequented by the locals.

This is also something Erica realized when scouting the apartment. “This is the real Paris,” she says. “And that’s something we wanted to share.”

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Written by Linda Donahue for Parisien Salon. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.

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Written by Parisien Salon

Parisien offers insider information that takes you beyond the landmarks, giving you exclusive entrée to a Paris usually limited only to those who live there.

Website: Parisien Salon

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