New Digs

wiring

Well, I did it. After nearly ten years of living in Paris, I am finally going to have a place that I can call my own. After dipping my feet in, and checking apartments from time-to-time, I decided that it was time I went ahead and did it. So I bought my own apartment.

Hunting for an apartment in Paris is quite an adventure; there’s no multiple listing services like there are in other countries (and it’s estimated that over half the apartments in Paris get sold directly by the owners), so you need to spend an inordinate amount of time searching online, in the newspapers, and in real estate agency windows. And since each agency will only show you what is offered by their particular agency – and some real estate agents have a less-than-stellar reputation here – it’s a process that takes a combination of luck, timing—and of course, plenty of time.

Getting a bank loan is another hurdle to cross and I had noticed two major bureaucratic mistakes in the paperwork, then I was required to submit to a full series of medical tests to complete the loan, which I wrote about, but deleted, because I didn’t think anyone would believe me, because I couldn’t either. I guess I should be happy, though, because one friend of mine who was applying for a bank loan had to take a stress test on a treadmill, which fortunately I didn’t have to do…because my stress level was going through the toit.

In short, I almost had three nervous breakdowns. Well – nine, if you count the entire week of 4am conference calls when I was in San Francisco on something I’ve heard about, called a “vacation” trying to save the purchase when the first bank I was borrowing from changed their mind at the 11th hour and rescinded their offer, putting me in a tenuous position since I’d already committed to the purchase. And the mind-numbing amount of paperwork I blew through felled a record number of trees, and more brain cells than I could afford to spare.

So a process that might normally take 30 to 60 days, dragged on for weeks. Then months. Then half a year. And finally, seven months after inking the first round of paperwork, the deal was done and I got the keys to my apartment. It was once an old print shop, previously cobbled together into a living space. Beautiful old stone walls were covered in wallpaper, which is called “cache-misère”, literally meaning “hiding the misery”, which is a reference to things people to do hide something considered “messy” or “outdated.” So one of my projects is to remove all of that and refurbish the stone. Another is to clean up the tangle of wiring that while creative, probably is a good idea to replace.

But most importantly, I won’t have to churn ice cream in my bedroom – and I won’t have to explain to my housecleaner why there is caramel in my bed – because one day I’m going to have a kitchen counter larger than a tapis d’acceuil (welcome mat) – although it’s gonna be a long way before I’m going to be able to roll one of those out around here.

Godin oven

So in the meantime, I’ve been working on getting the place in shape. I’ve been doing things like explaining that Americans like windows that can open, I’ve learned that three is a maximum of number of people that are allowed to yell at me in different languages at the same time (and they are learning that I have a shorter fuse than initially first appeared), and that there are panoply of words that seemingly mean the same thing, like—say, for a sink:

1. Vasque (a really big sink)

2. Évier (a big sink)

3. Lavabo (a regular sink)

4. Cuve (still haven’t figured out that one)

5. Lave-mains (a small sink)

And plumbing catalogs don’t list by ‘type’ of item, like ‘sinks’, ‘bathtubs’, and ‘faucets’, etc but by “Collections”, with ominous names like Opus, Détente, and “Stillness” — so you have to flip through a series of square toilets (and who the heck can manage any kind of détente on a square toilet seat?) to find a normal one.

And I now know that something which is 199 by 282 by 79,5 is cent quartre-vingt-dix-neuf par deux cent quartre-vingt-deux par soixaint-dix-neuf virgule cinq, is even less-comprehensible when you’re holding up a crumbling wall,standing under a shower of plaster dust while avoiding electrocution. Plus I’m trying to teach delivery people that if they ring the doorbell, rather than just affix a delivery sticker to your door requesting that you call to reschedule the delivery, they have a better chance of completing a delivery on the first round. Oh, and I just got called for jury duty in California for next week. Needless to say, the explosion that will be heard around the world may be my head.

The good news is that you won’t have to hear my anymore bemoaning that I have a tiny kitchen. The bad news is that it’s going take me a while to get there. But after all I’ve been through, demolition and construction is a walk in le parque.

No, the bathroom isn’t functional. And the kitchen is nothing but a counter with a Godin oven, which embodies the paradox of French taste: the handmade stove is enameled in a gorgeous red enamel color, and right smack in the front is a bright-blue digital clock with large, flashing electrical numbers. (I wonder if that can be removed?) But that’s the least of my problems at this point. So the last few weeks have been spent stripping everything out to clean up the space, to see it better, and the next few weeks (or months) will be spent figuring out in which direction I’m going to take it next. But first, I need to figure out how to find a sink.

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247 comments

  • January 19, 2012 4:52am

    And yet I still envy you—go figure! You don’t give away the exact location, but who cares?—it’s in Paris, n’est-ce pas? This insanity is my dream; bonne chance, David. Can’t wait to hear more about your latest Parisian real-estate adventure.

  • January 19, 2012 5:22am

    I like what you said about the bathroom! Congrats on finding an ideal place (it will soon be after all the major works are done.)

  • Kristine in Santa Barbara
    January 19, 2012 5:25am

    Congrats on your new home purchase! I’m happy to hear that you found something wonderful to work and live in….in Paris. I have to say I’m dismayed that your wonderful cookbooks and blog and other gigs haven’t made you the fortune that you deserve that would allow you to buy the apartment without that loan. Where’s your donate button and/or your Kickstarter campaign? :) Nothing like home renovation to test everything you thought you knew about yourself. Such a great project, enjoy!

  • January 19, 2012 6:16am

    I like how the category on this one is “whining”. Congrats!! And congrats on being funny while whining ;)

  • January 19, 2012 7:20am
    David Lebovitz

    karin: That would be great, but there are few large showrooms where they are a large variety of items on display (well, there’s Lapeyre, but they are always out of everything that’s supposed to be in stock) – so one needs to look at catalogs with clerks and pick things out that way. Sinks are so personal – at least to me – that I like to feel and look at them. Yesterday I woke up at 3am and went to the supply shops with my contractor in Aubervilliers, although one needs a card to get in to those places.

    Kristine: Paris is a pretty expensive city and rents and real estate prices are high, and climbing all the time. (I started looking a few years ago and everyone said, “Wait. Everything is too expensive. Prices are going to drop.” But coming from San Francisco, things may dip a bit, but unless people stop wanting to come and live in Paris, prices aren’t going to go down all that much. And Paris isn’t getting any bigger. Unfortunately writing is not a high-paying field, I’m afraid (I know, I should have listened to my mother and become a doctor..), nor was being a professional chef – but am happy I was able to buy something here nonetheless.

    Carole: It’s not easy for anyone here to buy property and especially get a loan, but as a banker explained to me a few years ago (when he was turning me down) – “It’s not like America, where we can just come in a few months later and repossess property in a few months.” It does make sense for them to be cautious, but screening people for certain ailments and medical conditions left a rather bad taste in my mouth. But the laws and processes aren’t just for foreigners; they apply to everything. The process is also designed, I think, to discourage rapid turnover of property, since the buyers assumes all the closing costs, including the real estate agent commission and notaire (the person who is in charge of the legal and financial paperwork.)

    Nikki: When I moved here and a company in town was sending me something to be delivered, they said – “You need to be standing there with the front door open, with your name written on your forehead.”

    Jo-Lynn: Most things are cheaper outside of France and my contractor does prefer to buy things in other countries for that reason, and because of differences in quality. I can’t believe how much less-expensive things are in England versus France, and I don’t think anyone would accuse England of being an inexpensive country! I do want to support France and local merchants, but it’s interesting how so many French people are now shopping online for things.

    Aude: Well, the good news is that..and you know..if you get someone in France to help you, the service is great. And people who work in the housing business are often professionals and good at what they do. It’s just you pay a premium for that service.

  • January 19, 2012 7:49am

    congratulations! I have a tiny kitchen that is really more of a cabinet with a stovetop, and just the other day I sat in bed and whipped egg whites and daydreamed about countertops and storage space. good luck with all of the construction, and I don’t know anything about French bureaucracy but if it is anything like Italian bureaucracy then you have all of my sympathies and admiration!

  • Sheila
    January 19, 2012 8:04am

    Happy for you. Want to hear EVERYTHING about your new place as time goes on. I think we all do as so many of us wish we were in your shoes! You’re lucky and you deserve it!

  • Estelle
    January 19, 2012 8:25am

    Mazal Tov David. I’m so very happy for you. I can tell you after many renovations during my lifetime that as difficult as it is, like child birth you forget the pain and intensely enjoy the fruits of the labor.
    Have many happy days there enjoying and creating.

  • Gopika
    January 19, 2012 1:37pm

    Congratulations David!!! A challenge, but at least it’s about making a space that is just for you.

    You probably have it somewhere on your Web site that I’m missing, so would you please let me know how I can send you a small cash donation as a house gift?

    Thanks.

  • Simona Tal
    January 19, 2012 3:29pm

    Mazel Tov.

  • Wynn
    January 19, 2012 4:07pm

    Your cabinets and range are lovely. Hope you find the white tile.

  • Jeff
    January 19, 2012 4:37pm

    Wow but the toilet looks tiny. It must be a pretty big room. C’est normal I guess. Best wishes

  • January 19, 2012 5:34pm

    Congrats David!

  • june lovell
    January 19, 2012 5:39pm

    love love love the stove however, non le $. i promise i won’t insert the odd french word any more. i’ve lost my love of convection ovens, however. need to remember the importance of timing and almost always forget that last, critical time period. can’t wait to see further posts with complete progress reports. i will be starting kitchen and bath remodels and i’m very interested in your choices.

  • Leslie
    January 19, 2012 5:49pm

    I didn’t have time to read through the 100+comments to see if what I want to say has already been addressed so apologies if you’d heard it already. The way the french count: a hold over from Roman days! four twenties, etc — so blame the (very early) Italians… Jury duty: I am transplanted LAer. When I get jury duty notice I send them a very nice letter (and I am sure that you are a master of official letter writing now that you live in France) explaining: I live 5000 miles away — do they wish to pay travel expenses? By the mile? And ask to be excused, and assuring them you will write again when you return to LIVE in the USA. Did the trick for me. I actually had a harder time with the jury duty notice for my mom, who has dementia — at first they assured me that disabilities can be catered for — had to point out the legal problems of letting a person with dementia actually judge a matter of law…. And, David, how wonderful for you to have a new, large space, to make the way you wish. Gandhi used to say that the journey (or actually, the means) are the end in process… so — go with it and find pleasure in the journey

  • Julie Boston
    January 19, 2012 5:59pm

    David,

    Best of luck in your reno! Things are very different over there when it comes to their distribution channels. We are glad to have purchased a turn key apt. as not to deal with redoing an apt. and we wanted to be able to rent it right away. Where is yours located? We are in the Marais and love visiting as often as possible..

    I see numerous trips to BHV for you, but you are already acquainted with that place!!

    Julie Boston
    My Paris Dream Apt.

  • January 19, 2012 6:06pm

    And The LIGHT!!! omg there is so much light. too much fun,

  • annette
    January 19, 2012 6:10pm

    Sincere congratulations, David! I love following your posts, but this one especially hits home and makes me ever-so-grateful that I survived what you’re describing and that our purchase and remodel in Paris is behind us! I rolled on the floor re: being yelled at in 3 languages–our contractor was Polish, some of the workers were Russian…it was pretty intense at times. I love the bones of your kitchen and am so happy for you to soon be able to spread out in your very own place. Best of luck as you go thru the remaining weeks–it will all turn out and soon be over! I’ve been told there’s a special badge we get to wear after all the medical exams, paperwork, remodeling, etc. but my maire’s office hasn’t sent it over yet…

  • January 19, 2012 6:14pm
    David Lebovitz

    annette- I know all this stuff drives French people nuts as well, but they’re more used to it so can deal with it better. Honestly, I don’t know how they live their lives with all the paperwork and so forth, that they have to do. I’ve bought (and sold) a few apartments in my life, but I never saw or went through anything like this. On the plus side, I am learning some Polish ; )

  • January 19, 2012 6:17pm

    One helpful hint: we were able to solve the bright blue digital clock problem on our Miele stove that we inherited here, by putting black electrician’s tape over the display. It blends right in with the black glass and you hardly see it.

    Bonnes et joyeuses renovations! lol

    (I am totally jealous, btw.) Kate

  • Jlhpisces
    January 19, 2012 6:45pm

    Congratulations, David! I love that there are so many possibilities and that you can make it truly your own. The only question I have is…caramel in the bed?

  • Erin Star
    January 19, 2012 6:48pm

    Wow, CONGRATS! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out, I love that red in the kitchen. Good luck! :)

  • January 19, 2012 6:52pm

    Congratulations, David!!! And thanks for sharing the “before” pics. Can’t wait to see the “After” !!!

  • Pascale
    January 19, 2012 6:54pm

    Congratulations David! I LOVE reading your post. I keep so many of them in my inbox so that when I go to paris I have your recommendations.

    Good luck with the renovation. Be patient!!!

  • Marissa
    January 19, 2012 6:55pm

    I can’t wait to see the final product :-) Felicitations!

  • January 19, 2012 7:40pm

    When we came to France in 2000 I realised this problem and so I started a company called French Riviera Property Search – and I make no charge to the Buyer as I take my commission from the advertised price. It is just as important to structure the purchase in the most tax efficient way according to the personal position of the buyer, as the Napoleonic laws in French are quite different to those in USA or UK or, in fact, most countries. So I do hope your purchase was structured properly, David, and I wish you a big congratulations on getting this far. It is not at all easy for someone who is not fluent in French and to get your own mortgage and then to do your own renovations as well ! You are really brave and a very big bravo to you. Jackie x

  • Linda
    January 19, 2012 8:00pm

    david, congrats on the home purchase! best of luck with the remodel. vert exciting!a re you in the same arrondisement?

  • marlene
    January 19, 2012 8:02pm

    Congratulations, David.

    I am so happy for you…….WOW!!!!!!!!!!
    Finally, you will have the Paris kitchen of your dreams.
    I LOVE your blog.

    With fond memories of having lunch with you
    at Ubuntu restaurant, Napa, several years ago.
    Marlene
    A friend of Carolyn, Cliff and John.

  • January 19, 2012 8:31pm

    remember to laugh :) a medical exam for a loan?! wow. have fun! looking forward to the updates…

  • January 19, 2012 8:50pm

    ~too funny, those bright blue digits do look out of place, lovely stove though, the red is gorgeous!

  • linda Schiffer
    January 19, 2012 8:50pm

    Congratulations, David! It’s going to be fabulous — some day. I can’t wait to see it. I’m in my apartment 4 years working in a kitchen built for handicapped people, so the counters are really low. I’m saving for a new kitchen one day — actually, I’m waiting for the stock market to rise. Then, I’m going to use all of your helpful tips and design myself a great kitchen. Keep us posted on your progress and enjoy the journey — if you can.

  • January 19, 2012 9:01pm

    If the front panel on your beautiful stove is made of ferris metal you can attach something with the tiny strong magnets currently available. They are about the size of an aspirin and many little signs exist that are reproductions of old advertising signs, enamel on steel. With an eye out for an image you would enjoy this could mask the clock and be removable for cleaning when necessary.

  • January 19, 2012 9:07pm

    oops! no spell check…ferrous, as in iron bearing.

  • January 19, 2012 11:37pm

    Congratulations! I look forward to reading your adventure in refurbishing a building into your dream home. That is a gorgeous stove! (Hope the drool doesn’t drip onto your blog.)

    Probably the 2nd (1st is money) reason that I’ll never own an apartment in Paris is that I currently have a kitchen that is 16 x 20 with a 8 x 3 mahogany butcher block island. I cannot imagine giving up the space in my kitchen! I designed it myself when I built this house so that there is a place for everything and everything in its place. It’s a workhorse, not a showplace.

    So, while I dream and dream of living in Paris–I’ll just have to visit more often and stay longer each trip.

    Freda

  • January 20, 2012 1:22am

    It will be worth it! We renovated our 17th century stone house in Provence. Check out the sinks at Ikea. I know it sound awful but we got a great, big country sink, it hold big pots. Bon chance!

  • Gavrielle
    January 20, 2012 1:28am

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to hear about the great new things you’ll be able to produce in your splendid new kitchen. (Eventually.)

  • Sonia
    January 20, 2012 5:12am

    Just think how many flies will be on the wall as you go through each stage of the renovation: ALL OF US!

    I hope you keep the red R2D2. No kitchen should be without one.

    Your description of the tribulations of arriving at ownership of your new apartment is in the classic Russian literary tradition of “laughter through tears” and I heaved many an “Oy” as I read. Wear the chef’s hat of your new domicile in good health!

  • Judith of Umbria
    January 20, 2012 10:47am

    I couldn’t be happier for you! I think it’s not much difference finding something herte in Italy and certainly you can experience a lot of yelling and cursing when renovating, but you are on your way. That radiator/towel heater will heat your bathrobe if you hang the hanger on a bar, then you can step from the shower into a hot cloud. Leave your slippers under it and bath time may be your best time of the day, which preserves Americanness.

  • January 20, 2012 11:24am

    David, do accept my congratulations on your new flat. May be it will take time to do up to your (exacting) specifications, but when it’s done, it will be all yours. We feel your pain at your evocative descriptions about how small your present flat is!

  • Frances Mercer
    January 20, 2012 6:48pm

    Congrats, David ! It’ll well be worth the hassle and wait !

  • Sonia
    January 20, 2012 8:22pm

    I like Judith of Umbria’s idea about the towel heater and hanging your bathrobe on a bar. What a mitzvah!

  • Annette
    January 20, 2012 9:18pm

    Oh, how exciting! Reminds me of my brother buying his place in Cortona. Crazy and stressful and exciting!
    I can’t wait til my husband and I can buy a place of our own too….

  • Page
    January 20, 2012 10:31pm

    David, have you considering outfitting your kitchen via IKEA? We’re using their 3D planning tool, which is very nifty, and a trip to the store at Villiers-sur-Marne is quite doable, with handsome young men to help with your design.

    • January 21, 2012 1:30pm
      David Lebovitz

      I am getting my kitchen cabinets there but we had the worst experience at the Ikea here last Monday- We went to their “kitchens only” store in Vélizy, and took a number…then was told it was be a “minimum wait of 2 1/2 hours.” I thought they were kidding until a nearby man said he had been waiting 4 hours. After waiting nearly 3 1/2 hours in the store (and since it only has kitchen stuff, there’s nothing else to look at – and although they have a small café, the cook wiping his runny nose in between dishing up meatballs wasn’t so appealing…) finally, my number was called. It was like being trapped in an airport when your flight is cancelled.

      When we finally got called by a kitchen planner who spent literally 3 minutes with us, then ran away to another person (who was also flipping out), then we begged them (literally, I got down on the floor – on my knees) and they came back to help us for another 2 minutes, before leaving yet again. It was a horrible, awful experience and a complete waste of a day. If someone had sat with me for just ten minutes, we could have hammered the whole thing out since I knew what I wanted. I don’t quite get their business model because instead of having a kitchen design area full of furious, frustrated people (and staff), it could have been a much better experience. I’m tempted to get my cabinets elsewhere because of the time wasted and frustration.

      (I tried to use the 3D tool at home, but it’s not user-friendly and I couldn’t download the planner from the internet, despite trying several browsers.) #IkeaFAIL

  • Skippy
    January 21, 2012 9:20am

    Congratulations on your new place! I’m a real estate agent in New York and people think things are complicated here, but it sounds like buying is a much, much more headache-inducing chore in Paris (of course if you ever decide you want to buy a pied a terre in NYC, I’ll make it easy for you!).

  • Stacey In New Mexico USA
    January 21, 2012 4:06pm

    ….oh my! This is gonna be fun! I will be checking your blog more often than usual to watch this story unfold! Another book in the making?

  • January 21, 2012 4:32pm

    I agree with the previous poster — write a book, with all your wonderful wit!

  • January 21, 2012 6:24pm

    CONGRATS!!!!! I am sure your new kitchen will be to die for! Oh, and if your landlord is looking for someone to take over your old apt, I’d be happy to. It must be bigger than the closet I currently live in in the 7th. (I’ve been looking for a new place for 3 months and its an AWFUL process!)

  • Alex
    January 22, 2012 2:18am

    As far as I remember…
    Lavabo -> Is meant to be in the restrooms / bathroom.
    Evier -> Is meant to be in the kitchen (to wash dishes)
    Vasque -> It refers to a different shape, i.e. the “evier” or lavabo is like a cube inside which you dig a hole for the water. A “vasque” is rather a conic bucket put on top of a table. (So theoretically it is much more beautiful).

    I don’t know about “cuve”, and I guess that “lave mains” is a tiny “lavabo” that you can put in tiny restrooms (nudge so that people actually wash their hands – otherwise they may be too lazy to go to the nearby bathroom…)

    Does this make sense?

  • Sami
    January 22, 2012 4:19am

    Congratulations on the new apartment! Quite awesome. But jury duty in San Francisco? Did you ever see the episode of 30 rock where Tina Fey gets outbid jury duty by dressing up like Princess Leia? It might be worth a shot…

  • January 22, 2012 2:22pm

    How many m2 is your new place?

    Good luck with the renovation. If it’s anything like Spain expect to at least double the time you would expect a similar project in the states to be completed. And then you’ll be vacuuming construction dust constantly for the first 6 to 9 months after you move in. Goes with the territory.

  • January 22, 2012 5:57pm

    Oh gosh its a minefield isn’t it! We are (very) slowly trying to renovate our place in the allier region of france. We got a new roof on it (about 27 years overdue) last summer and I dread to think of the horrors of actually getting down to fine details! I wish there was a specific dictionary for all the building vocabulary! It has taken us a fair bit to get used to conversations about struts, insulation, thermal bricks, ceilings…… I’m sure you know the pain!
    Good luck with it, I can’t wait to see the progress
    xxx

  • Liz Strauli
    January 22, 2012 6:24pm

    Every time I’ve moved I swore I’d never do it again, and every time I meant it more, so you have my deepest sympathy but I’m also pea-green with envy because doing up a new place is such excitement (though litres of wine will be required to get you through it). I look forward to reading future posts on this but for the moment, could I just pop in a word of warning? I know some people in Burgundy who stripped off all the wallpaper to expose their beautiful stone walls, and the following winter they realized why the wallpaper had been there. If it’s the really thick kind, it may be doing a useful job in keeping out the worst of the cold and damp.

    • January 22, 2012 6:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, people put up things like wallpaper to “hide the misery” which in this case, was certainly true. (I was suspicious when the seller had the heat on, even in the summer!) But I know from owning places before that water is an issue that doesn’t get better, and usually persists and makes this worse. So we’re resolving it. (Although it’s gonna cost a lot more than a few sheets of wallpaper!)

  • Elizabeth Good
    January 22, 2012 6:55pm

    I am doing a kitchen for a friend In Tucson AZ.The most aggravation I have is missing or faulty parts for the IKEA kitchen we have purchased and resulting in a 200 mile round trip up to Phoenix or waiting 5 days to have shipped.We are also customizing it by re glazing and re varnishing the fronts to alter the color and give it more character.
    This is the 5th kitchen redo for me between myself and my friends happy to do this in English which is also a foreign languages for most workers in this area,most workers are Spanish speaking and very good pretending not to understand when something is new or strange to them.

    • January 22, 2012 7:08pm
      David Lebovitz

      I did a kitchen with Ikea cabinets a number of years ago and delivered all of them – except one. And, of course, they no longer were able to keep that cabinet in stock due to some manufacturing issue. So I had a big hole in my kitchen for a few months before they could track one down to fill it. It wasn’t the end of the world, but if was funny to have a big empty square space in my kitchen for a while. (I don’t think they would have taken a picture of it and used it in one of their Ikea catalogs..that’s for sure.)

  • January 22, 2012 7:14pm

    I’m coming a bit late to this discussion (and if someone has made this point already, my apologies) but I wonder why you didn’t turn to your readership for the money you needed for the purchase.

    Granted, keeping track of a number of smaller loans might have been a hassle, but surely nothing like what you went through with the banks, and my guess is you could have raised the le fric in no time at all.

  • Francesca
    January 22, 2012 7:58pm

    Each time is a pleasure and very amazing to read your posts. I like your humor, I like you vision on the things around and – very important! – your recipes. I’m baking right now the chocolate chocolate chocolate-chips cookies: my apartment smells simply great…. Good luck with the new apartment!

  • Philip
    January 23, 2012 6:12am

    Hot burners on the stove top, even cooking oven, deep kitchen sink, good light over sink and stove, room enough on counter to easily roll out dough or knead a batch of bread, enough distance between bathroom sink to toilet, comfy toilet seat shape, good light in shower, fog free mirror in shower to shave. Also, check-out LED home lighting, they are now producing down-lights and directional lights that are cheap to operate, and a few are capable of accepting a dimmer switch. Knowing you from your posts, I would strongly avoid the ‘Ikea’ look, and go for the more hands-on, artistic look. Warm paint tones, soft textures, complimentary patterns…I would avoid the ‘Industrial/white’ look…not so good as a background when you take photos of ‘at home with David’. Good luck my friend, I’ve been there, and it turned out great. Bonne Chance, un lecteur consacre, Philippe (excuse my bad french)

  • January 24, 2012 12:44am

    Whenever I find myself whining about my tiny kitchen and almost non-existent counter space, I remind myself that your kitchen is way smaller and that I absolutely have no right to complain. Now that you’re moving into a bigger one, I’d like to take a moment and scream at the top of my lungs: “I HATE MY KİTCHEN!” And love your new one. Wishing you the smoothest ride possible with the contractors and a huge freezer.

  • Carine_07
    January 24, 2012 9:08pm

    Have a look at this website http://www.bricodepot.fr/fleury-merogis-ste-genevieve-des-bois/cuisine/eviers-encastrer-poser maybe you can find your sink (not too far from Paris if you have a car) and your tiles http://www.bricodepot.fr/fleury-merogis-ste-genevieve-des-bois/carrelage-sol-et-mur
    Congrats for your new flat.

  • Brendan
    January 25, 2012 12:55pm

    Right after I moved from SF to Australia, I got called for jury duty in California. So, naturally, I did what any grown man does, and had his mother write a letter to the clerk of the court :)

    Your mileage may vary!

  • January 25, 2012 3:03pm

    dear David,

    I love reading your blogs.
    Although having been a Parisian for years, I am now looking for another apartment in the center of the city.
    I fully agree with you ; you only see what the agency has in its portfolio, not knowing if you are not missing THE one, unless you screen all the agencies and internet…
    I saw one yesterday too smal, the one besides had just been sold: different owner, different agent. The 2 together would have been great. Too bad for me and fro the owners as the 2 together might have sold for more than 2 separated.

    So I fully related to your comments and hope I’ll be able to choose my lavabo and evier soon.

    Just for your knowledge an “évier” is a kitchen sink while a “lavabo” sits in a bathroom. A lave-mains (no accent) is a small one, sometimes with only cold water, that stays in a “toilettes” for people to wash their hands before going out.

    I also relate to your foodie experiences.
    Thanks for all of that.
    Martine

  • January 26, 2012 2:55am

    David – your blog and website are such a treat! I love coming here to read and to pretend I am eating all of the delicious food you talk about. A good friend of mine is taking her first trip to Paris (first trip to Europe, actually).I was so excited that I could point her in the direction of you blog and the “My Paris” section. I know her trip will be greatly enhanced by all of the fabulous suggestions and resources you have shared! Thank you. Looking forward to following your kitchen progress.

  • Steve
    January 27, 2012 3:32am

    WTF? You’re obligated to undergo a medical exam to get a mortgage in France?! Well, I wouldn’t have thought it possible but you have actually written something that makes me despise American bankers (who don’t–or can’t–impose such a requirement) a little less.

  • January 27, 2012 8:27am

    Félicitations David, I too was shocked about the medical exam requirement, since medical exams are a bit strange for Americans especially when it concerns mortgages. Obviously unless you pay cash, it’s not required. For some lenders, “c’est depend” it could always be a requirement or depends on the loan amount, or whatever the banker is feeling that day. However, I have friends that just purchased apartments recently, and some only required a perfunctory document from an e.g., American Doctor that you have no chronic illness etc. or in one friend’s case, cancer is in remission. It wouldn’t be France if we didn’t have alot of exceptions or dosiers to fill out, n’est-ce pas?

    Medical health and healthcare in general is important in France. You have to have health insurance before you can apply to be a resident, and to finalize a residency card “carte-de-sejour” you have to have a physical exam in France. And, in some cases for work as well.

    Personally, I think the French don’t object because it’s something that’s just done, “C’est l’habitute de la Français”. Plus, just look around, there are pharmacies on every block, hospitals everywhere, methinks there’s alot of hypochondriacs here. I mean Assurance Maladie will send you reminders for free e.g., colon exams etc. They believe in preventive medicine. So, doctor’s, health exams, testing and pharmaceuticals is a way of life in France. Whereas most in US can’t afford such tests. I think it’s cultural!

    I had asked some French friends about this, and in a complacent tone, they just said, “c’est normal”. Oh well!

  • January 27, 2012 5:04pm

    OMG, Congratulations on the new digs! How fun. I’m laughing at the jury duty in CA. I just got one too. and I decided to fill it out and explain why i can’t go “because I am not a resident of CA” was the check box I checked… you know living in Switzerland is not the same as living CA… so i sent it in via internet and got a notice back that said something like ” your answer is not acceptable. The judge is the only one who can excuse you from jury duty for not living in California.” So I have to fly back to ask the judge to excuse me because I don’t live there? Ya gotta love legal logic.

    cannot wait to see your remodel! Congratulations again!

  • January 28, 2012 11:52am

    Gosh David, I’m green with envy too! Although I have just moved into a wonderful flat with the most adorable under-the-eaves kitchen, I seem to have the house bug and, no matter how much I love where I stay, I can’t stop dreaming about other houses and homes.
    Yours looks so promising! I adore open-space, loft-type homes, but I have a word of warning – walls are useful! no walls = no space to prop bookcases and wardrobes against. I have learnt this the hard way ;)

    hope that more pics are on the way! congrats and good luck.

  • tarte vaudoise
    January 29, 2012 7:27pm

    Dear M. Lebovitz,
    It’s not all that bad! My parents renovate every house we live in. The last one included us all sleeping in the living room for six months, a contractor with a mullet who kept his milk in our fridge, and a “meticulously maintained” roof that fell down.
    Have courage!

  • January 31, 2012 7:16pm

    David; you won’t need this comment since I’m no 227 to write but honestly, this is just all too true. When we bought our house here in France we experienced much the same things as you do and without wanting to add to your obvious distress; the French workers have an output rate of max 60%, and that’s generous. So take all the patience and courage you can master, dispose of it in even measures and breathe deeply.
    With regards to choosing your hardware, do you know about Leroy Merlin? They have a huge online catalogue to browse and you’d also find all the right words for the equipment. Isn’t it fantastic how rich the different languages are? :)
    Congrats to your first own place and much, much luck with the work. We have bought, renovated, and lived in 3 houses in three countries in the past 10 years.

  • January 31, 2012 7:22pm

    oh, just in case nobody has pointed that out, a ‘cuve’ is a tank, we had a cuve installed in the garden for rainwater-reuse. So definitely not something you’d need in an appt in Paris.

  • January 31, 2012 7:46pm

    omg…a full set of medical tests to complete a loan?!! I wish you hadn’t deleted… it would also have been fun to read– it would have been the icing on “le gateau”!

    Hang in there David, it will all be worth it in the end!

  • January 31, 2012 8:42pm

    Oh David. The photos show us what you have to work with. I guess we have all renovated kitchens and bathrooms in houses we have had.

    The good thing is that it is so blank that you have a lot of scope. The bad thing is that it always costs more than you budget.

    Like everyone here, I am gob-smacked by the medical tests requirement to complete a loan.

    You have our sympathy and enthusiasm for this project. The end is always worth the time and effort.

  • lucille whan humair
    January 31, 2012 9:22pm

    During my 41 years of living in Paris we have renovated a 2 story 260 meter apartment
    from 1927 in horrible shape as well as a 1800’s schoolhouse in the country.
    We had workers in Paris who spoke neither English or French thus no communication possible. As far as the country house goes MODERN was not in their vocabulary and
    their refusal to take any advice or decorating desires from a woman, especially one who
    is a foreigner and who speaks French fluently but with an accent was totally unacceptable for them. But finally it all came together & we love both our homes.
    I can only wish you patience and courage David.

    Patience

  • February 1, 2012 3:53am

    Congratulations! Hope we get to see (and hear) more about your new place.

  • violette kogut
    February 1, 2012 5:29pm

    J’aime lire vos articles qui sont amusants.Felicitations pour votre appartement,vous aurez beaucoup a ecrire pendant les travaux.
    Il faut de la patience ,mais c’est la meme chose aux EU…..je sais car j’ai eu a faire avec des ouvriers qui n’ecoutaient jamais ce que je leur disais.

  • Helen Christ
    February 1, 2012 5:45pm

    David,

    Put one foot in front of the other, keep in mind your finished product, and soon you will have your lovely home. Can’t wait for pictures!

    Best of luck from a former student,
    H

  • February 1, 2012 6:10pm

    Congratulations on the new home! i feel your pain. I’ve been in the midst of renovating a kitchen, dining room, laundry room and bedroom for just about a year. It was originally supposed to be just a kitchen renovation!

  • mumbie
    February 1, 2012 8:13pm

    courage!

  • Glenys
    February 1, 2012 8:20pm

    Oh David, Congrats and bon courage with the apartment. A call for jury duty in California? Me too, resident of Cahors, but U.S. citizen. I must have been excused for stupidity as I failed to understand the online questionnaire written in my mother tongue, e.g., I request to be excused from jury duty because: “I am not a citizen”. Check yes or no. Duh! Yes, I am not a citizen or No, I am not a citizen.

  • Harry Dickinson
    February 1, 2012 11:26pm

    Dear David:
    Renovations are just as bad even if you live in Australia and everyone speaks English! And IKEA does have a large double white porcelain sink which has proved to be a great success even if we had an empty hole in the bench top waiting for it for weeks – doesn’t mark and so far,after two years nothings broken in it.
    Publish the lost post that you deleted.
    Harry

  • February 2, 2012 8:03am

    I am dreaming of first finding the right apartment of course but then second step of a semi-pro kitchen.
    I visited parisdeschefs and put all the KitchenAid appliances on my wish list: vacuum and steam oven, low temperature……it is SOME budget.

    What do you think ? I cook a lot, I host, I used to have a table d’hôtes, but I am not a restaurant.
    Would you recommend them ?

    Thanks for taking time to answer this if you can.

  • February 2, 2012 8:24pm

    Congratulations. Renovating and decorating can be a headache but so fun nonetheless.

  • cwid
    February 3, 2012 4:51am

    Oh, David, that looks like an almost impossible task! But be brave. Just like giving birth to a baby, you forget the pain once you see the end result.

  • malu
    February 5, 2012 7:58pm

    your apartment will be lovely, have fun!

  • Shirleah
    February 11, 2012 3:42am

    Thanks for sharing your life in Paris; I’m looking forward to a trip there next year.

  • Shirleah
    February 11, 2012 3:43am

    Looking forward to a trip to Paris; thanks for sharing your experiences!!!

  • Prunella
    February 11, 2012 5:39am

    We have the exaxt same red kitchen (different hardware though) and absolutely love it. You are lucky to have gotten it on time though, since Ikea has discontinued it…or at least here in north America. Bonnie chance with the remaining reno!

  • February 13, 2012 6:04pm

    Yikes….7 months? That’s nuts. I guess HGTV lies haha. Despite all the nervous breakdowns, I bet your really really excited to design the place to fit your lifestyle. Very cool…I look forward to updates!

  • Selkie
    February 14, 2012 1:34am

    Bravo….