When you think of Parisian apartments, more often than not, it’s the 19th-century Haussmannian version that comes to mind. Blessed with high ceilings, ornate plaster mouldings, uniform floor-length windows and polished marble fireplaces, these apartments are the epitome of Parisian elegance, especially when they have been renovated to reflect a contemporary sense of subdued sophistication, as we have frequently featured at Yatzer like here and here. With that being said, it’s always refreshing to come across a Parisian residence like Maison Sémonville that defies both the perfection of the Haussmannian typology and the interior design sensibility of less is more. Such is the case with Maison Sémonville, a 17th century “hôtel particulier” built at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV, eclectically refurbished by interior design practice CM Studio Paris in celebration of the building’s architectural heritage and the life of its original occupant, Charles Louis Huguet, the marquis de Sémonville.
Founded by John Coury and Florent Maillard who share a passion for architecture, history and antiques, CM Studio Paris is drawn to projects involving historic buildings, creating interior designs in perfect harmony with their architectural heritage. In the case of this project, more than anything, the duo were inspired by the life of the eponymous marquis de Sémonville, Charles-Louis Huguet de Montaran, specifically his tenure as France’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Also drawing from the baroque heritage of the centuries-old mansion, they have completely redesigned and restructured the building’s interior and yet ingeniously the rooms appear as if they have always been like this. Suspended in time, the antique-filled, richly layered interiors espouse an eclectic aesthetic that not so much rejects modernity but seems unaware of its existence.
Located on rue Quincampoix, a narrow, ancient street in the centre of Paris, one of the oldest in the city, what the mansion lacks in exterior views of Haussmannian, tree-lined boulevards, it has gained in a richly curated interior décor that combines a trove of precious antiques and ancient objects dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries with an eclectic selection of contemporary artworks. Every piece of furniture, artwork and all decorative objects have been thoughtfully selected and positioned in relation to each room’s historical character with heritage features such as Versailles style parquet flooring, decorative screens and panelled doors setting the tone.
Undoubtedly, the most impressive space is the double-height drawing room which features massive, timber roof beams with hand-carved ornamentations, a monumental stone fireplace inscribed with Old French words, and a beautifully shaped, wooden balustrade on the mezzanine level. Rather than being humbled by the imposing architecture, the designers have approached the interior design of the space with the same kind of maximalist sensibility by introducing, among other things, two large, imposing paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Vicentino. The paintings not only enliven the room with vibrant colours, echoed by the sumptuously upholstered sofas, armchairs and ottomans, but they also subtly conjure the presence of the marquis de Sémonville by depicting the meeting of Ottoman and Venetian ambassadors.
The marquis’ Oriental connection has also inspired the design of the master bathroom which draws from Ottoman architecture and has been embellished with royal red marble. Just as richly textured is the kitchen which is bedecked in black marble counters, timber cabinetry and a deep red wall paint. For the master bedroom, the designers have ventured away from oriental and baroque references for a more modern aesthetic in order to create a hypnotic, intimate boudoir atmosphere. Enfolded in powder pink walls, the room’s intimacy is enhanced by oriental rugs, Venetian mirrors, vividly coloured velvet fabrics and a seductive collection of contemporary photographs. The fact that such disparate elements constitute such a cohesive, harmonious ensemble tells you all you need to know about the enchanting brilliance of Maison Sémonville