A Paris Apartment

Just saying "A Paris Apartment" sounds dreamy and romantic.... and this one certainly lives up to the images that are conjured up with those three words.

Thuy Tranthi Rieder’s career in fashion translates into an ever-so-elegant and colorful apartment in Paris

Written and produced by Jenny Bradley
Photographs by Francis Hammond

Just a year ago, Thuy (pronounced Twee) Tranthi Rieder relocated to Paris, but already she exudes the chic, effortless style for which the city is known.

Perhaps that is due in part to her rather glamorous upbringing. The daughter of a diplomat, she was born in Saigon and counts cities such as Rome, Athens, and Paris as childhood homes. Or maybe it has something to do with her 18-year career in fashion. She’s held positions at Céline and Chloé, and is currently the global vice president of marketing and communication at Lancel, a luxury accessories brand based in Paris.

Regardless of its origin, her understated elegance applies not only to her personal style but also to the fashionable apartment she shares with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, Arielle. “I looked at so many apartments,” says Thuy. “When I walked into this one, I was struck by the height of the ceilings and the beautiful light. It’s a typical Parisian apartment—very chic with elegant details.”

Gorgeous light and high ceilings aside, the apartment was missing one thing—furnishings. In need of a cozy family home in just three weeks, Thuy called her friend (and decorator) Eric Lysdahl.

“We worked together on their Connecticut house, and we just clicked,” says Lysdahl. “When Thuy called about this apartment, I came running. It is Paris, after all.”

Lysdahl hit the ground running. Literally. “It was rather manic,” he laughs. “I came for two weeks over the holidays and started hunting and gathering on the streets of Paris.”

Falling back on one of his favorite Parisian sources, he scoured the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market for antiques and accessories, and then picked up more modern necessities and objets d’art at one of the largest department stores in the city, Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville.

“The bones of this apartment speak a very strong language,” says Lysdahl. “The plasterwork, the built-in mirrors, the flamboyant mantelpiece, the patterned floor—they’re all very strong. To compete with that, you either have to go full-on Louis XV or you have to be very spare. We didn’t want this space to be too serious, so we went with a hip, young vibe.”

In the living room, that meant balancing the ornate friezes, wood floors laid in a herringbone pattern, and gilt mirrors with sleeker, more whimsical elements and vibrant color.

Furnishings were left relatively sparse. Matching gray sofas flank the fireplace. Lucite tables float above a zebra rug painted in metallic silver. Vintage chairs found at the flea market were updated with a painted stripe down the center—an homage to 20th-century style icon and fashion designer Pauline de Roth-schild. For a touch of the unexpected, a silver bulldog that Lysdahl lugged home from the Marais district on a crowded Metro train amid curious stares holds court under an antique console table.

Thuy initially intended for the apartment’s palette to be starkly monochromatic, but Lysdahl persuaded her to take a more vivacious route: color. Not just any color, but a no-holds-barred, eye-popping, in-your-face fuchsia. Used on the throw pillows and draperies, it single-handedly gives a lively, fresh take to the living room’s traditional bones and stark white walls. “I refer to it as la vie en rose,” laughs Lysdahl.

In the adjoining dining room, Lysdahl complemented the living room’s warm palette with a cooler hue—choosing the same floral fabric for the draperies but opting for blue as a counterpoint to the fuchsia. Equal parts Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, the space conveys the perfect mix of classic and modern.

A sleek dining table with a white embossed top plus an orbit-like floor lamp make modern statements against the classical architecture, herringbone-patterned floors, and an overscale gilt mirror.

“This is a very formal apartment in a formal neighborhood,” says Thuy. “And because the details are so ornate, we wanted to bring in a modern, clean-lined feel. We wanted the space to be more urban and whimsical.”

Overlooking the building’s courtyard, the master bedroom takes a more neutral turn. Gray paint on the walls was left untouched; it offers a soft yet chic foil to the crisp white of the wainscoting and moldings.

Elegant pieces—a white leather Mies van der Rohe daybed and an antique chest crowned with a black-and-white photograph taken by a friend of the family—only enhance the room’s fashion-forward yet serene and ever-so-Parisian feel.

“This is my sanctuary,” says Thuy. “I come here and can shut everything out.”

Interior designer: Eric Lysdahl, EricLysdahl Inc., 212/717-5121,ericlysdahl.com.

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