Home Tour: Inside Jean-Louis Deniot's Parisian Apartment
The casual visitor to Jean-Louis Deniot’s enchanting Paris apartment might be surprised to discover a charming old master hanging next to a striking contemporary black-and-white image, or marvel at the rounded walls that are offset by a cubist-inspired fireplace in his living room.
Such dynamic juxtapositions are the signature style of this audacious French architect and interior designer, who’s known for his fondness of neoclassicism and admired for his genre-mixing skills. With his evident talent and film-star looks, this A-list designer has attracted a great deal of global attention during his 20-year career, including his revamp of France’s Château Latour winery and his interior design for a palace in Chandigarh, India. He’s most recently put his mark on The Glebe—a set of luxurious detached homes situated along landscaped gardens in Chelsea, London.
While his interior designs heavily reference the past, Jean-Louis always contributes a unique touch of newness— and his elegant eclecticism is perfectly reflected in his own home. The apartment is in an 18th-century building in Paris’ 7th arrondissement, between the Quai d’Orsay and the Louvre Museum, and is adjacent to a road famous for its prestigious antiques shops. Due to its narrow streets and historic architecture, Jean-Louis defines it as a “typical Parisian area.”
Despite the fact the property hadn’t been renovated for more than 100 years, Jean-Louis was undaunted. “The place was all rotten, but I felt it had potential,” he says. “When it was built, the constructions were more comfortable and more insulated from the noise and the weather. What attracted me were the 12 huge windows.”
To his specifications, the entire interior was demolished and rebuilt to accommodate four rooms—an office, a dining room, a living room and a bedroom—all of which benefit from natural light streaming through the impressive floor-to-ceiling windows that dominate the apartment. “The concept was simple—to give the impression of splendour without ostentation, while remaining contemporary,” he says. “I injected every element that seemed new and interesting to me.”
Nicknamed the “modern master of French interiors,” Jean-Louis has been acknowledged as one of the world’s top architects and interior designers. It’s a career he felt he was “destined to do from the age of 12.” His approach to his work is both academic and abstract. “I love beauty and poetic elements that spark contemplation—pieces that make you dream, make you smile,” he says. “I love the interactions between pieces—weird juxtapositions are exciting.”
This is apparent in his own apartment, where, imperceptible at first glance, the rounded angles of the living room walls and ceilings create a softness that’s repeated in the lacquered grey bookshelves that run the length of the curved walls. Curiously, the designer adds a Marc DuPlantier-inspired cubist fireplace, which he says is intentional in order to “prevent the softness from turning into drowsiness.”
The walls and ceiling feature a ravishing panoramic painting of a cloudy sky by Mathias Kiss, perhaps alluding to the ceiling frescos of the 18th century or the view from the windows of a plane. This sense of lightness, exemplified by the living room walls and ceiling, is strikingly contrasted with architectural details and furniture from the 1930s and 1950s.
Jean-Louis is famous for creating dazzling contrasts, so how does he achieve them? “I have the ability to see finished spaces in my head when I am in the creation process,” he explains. “So I can tell in advance what will work and what won’t. It’s a three-dimensional composition, taking into account the contrast, volumes, colours, textures, shadows, and light. I create an effect of layering by prioritising these elements and ideas in different ways that emphasise the atmosphere, the richness and the refinement of the space.” This distinctive narrative, which runs throughout Jean-Louis’ body of work, is reflected in his own home without constraint. “I designed it without following any trend or concern for anyone’s opinion,” he says. “I designed it how I felt, so it does feel very comfortable and personal. It represents my own freedom, my own preferences, and my own aesthetic —and I had fun doing it.”
Photography: Xavier Béjot Nicolson