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Before & after: An industrial Parisian loft

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Unless trained, most people have a poor sense of spatial awareness, which does not allow them to imagine how an empty room will look once fully furnished or redecorated. French interior designer Barbara Sterkers, refurbished a former industrial factory space, and transformed it into an inviting family home. What was once cold, grey and bare, is now vivacious, bold and warm. 

Today on homify, we are going to take a tour, as well as look at the intricate before and after process of restoring an old industrial space into the perfect, liveable family home.


To begin our tour, we start with the empty shell of the building. Stripped back and naked, every rafter, column and beam is visible. The loft extends over two floors, which fortunately, has a flowing and open floor plan. The structure of the rooms was hardly changed, which meant there was disturbance to the load bearing columns or walls. The public areas, such as the kitchen, dining room and living room, can be found on the lower section, while the more private and intimate spaces like the bedroom, are in the mezzanine floor above. Not much of the original building was left in tact, as you can see the tiles, floors, wall and roof are in pretty bad shape.

The loft is located in Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, northeast of Paris. The tasks of the interior designers was to recreate the volume of the interior space, re-envisioning the positioning of rooms, as well as considering the placement of furniture. Sometimes, working on a blank canvas can be a blessing, other times, it can leave us tearing out our hair. This is where the gift of foresight and spatial awareness comes into play. By just looking at the space, a successful interior decorator and designer can imagine where, what and how furniture, lights and rooms should go. 


The first view of the after scene is of the newly purposed dining room space. This space, in comparison with the previous image, is barely recognisable. Bright white dominates the space, which lives on the lower level. In the centre of the room, acting as the focal point, is a large dining room table. Boarded by quintessentially French chairs, these yellow steel rebels are the creation of Xavier Pauchard, designed in 1934. This style, titled the Tolix chair -A56 is an icon in furniture design today, and is heavily replicated by high street furniture producers. These chairs were first released to the public in 1937 for the World Fair in Paris, with 16,000 copies being produced to seat patrons. 

You will also notice that the ceiling has a rather distinct and interesting shape. A metal corrugated sheet has bee affixed to the beams, and painted a stark shade of white. This feature adds rhythm and movement to a fairly muted space. 

In order to create more privacy for the space above, the gallery on the mezzanine floor has been closed off with a glass wall. Despite the translucency, the private areas are no longer as open as before. Due to the shape of the building, no natural light is able to penetrate without this wall being fashioned from glass, so this is a willing compromise to ensure the space is adequately hidden and lit at the same time. Black frames have been used to further synthesise the former industrial charm, contrasting strongly against the white, yet paying homage to the past life of the building.

Here, we see the living room, which is located at the base of the kitchen. The old window positioning remains, as first seen in the before images, yet the glazing has been replaced to ensure the building is sealed and energy compliant. In an unconventional feat, the sofa has been positioned on a rather interesting angle, comprising of two chaise lounges. This can be a place for guests to stay, read a book or even enjoy a drink with the setting sun behind you. 

The last view we see is of the stairs. Again, retaining the industrial charm of the space was important, as it maintains the theme that has been evidenced throughout. Simple and functional, just like modernism dictates, this transitional space is clean, well-lit and contains no frills. Drawing upon the idea of the machine and the industry, the staircase resembles an iron worked element, fashioned by a blacksmith. This furthers the authenticity of the space. So as to allow as much natural light into the room as possible, the staircase was designed open.

This completes a brief tour through this industrial style loft in Paris. Perhaps you have taken away some design tips and inspiration to complete a transformation of your own. 

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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