Bienvenue chez nous!
When people hear that I’ve moved to France, their first question is usually whether I speak French (un peu). Their second question is where I’m living (le Marais). But once they hear that this dream life comes with an 18-square-meter apartment, their reaction usually shifts to laughter, horror, or both.
Even the Europeans laugh at us for our tiny apartment, so you know it’s small.
But I’m here to tell you that the tiny house life is not at all bad! In fact, I love it. This apartment is perfect for us for one year, and I could imagine living in it long term with just a few small additions—mostly just a separate sleeping area, and maybe a slightly larger shower, and an oven if we’re getting fancy.
But here, come on in:
This is the main space in our apartment. The bed is a futon, so we can fold it up into a couch when we have company. We have three chairs, two stools, and a table that comfortably fits four. We even have enough floor space for an air mattress, so we’re happy to host if you don’t mind sleeping at the foot of our bed.
From the other direction, you can see how much storage is crammed into this tiny space. That’s our closet on the left, with some cabinets above, and more shelves than we have things to fill them with. (Most of the stuff on the shelves – alcohol not included – was here when we moved in.) The window seats have storage inside, and if you scroll back up to the first photo you can see our dresser, more shelves, and a storage ottoman at the foot of the bed.
Because I know you’re going to ask: how much stuff did we bring with us to Paris? The answer is, not a lot! Colin and I estimate that we gave away or donated at least 60 percent of our belongings before we moved, including most of our furniture (some of which we’ll have to buy again when we move back to the States, but it didn’t make financial sense to store) and a ton of clothes and random junk that had accumulated over time. Our Cambridge apartment wasn’t even cluttered! It was remarkable to see how much we had stuffed in there without realizing it.
Getting rid of so much felt wonderful. It’s really freeing to not have so many things in our lives. I moved here with about 10 shirts and sweaters, most of which can be layered to work in multiple seasons; four pairs of pants; five dresses (two casual, two dressy, one for cooler weather); and assorted “specialty” items like workout clothes and hiking boots. That actually still feels like a lot to me since most days I just alternate between the same two pairs of pants and four shirts, but maybe that will change as it warms up enough for dresses.
In our apartment, I get two of the three dresser drawers, Colin gets one, we split the closet hanging space, and he gets the shelf at the top of the closet. We also keep some shoes in a bin by the door so they’re easily accessible and don’t track in dirt.
The rest of our apartment is harder to show in a photo because it’s, well, tiny, but here you can see the “foyer” between the main room and bathroom and kitchen. The main entry is out of view next to the coat hooks; for context, our bed is against the wall in the foreground.
The bathroom is totally normal, if small. It’s designed super efficiently, so we have room to store everything we need either in the medicine cabinet or in the bins under the sink. We keep extra linens in the cabinets above our closet.
The kitchen is also totally normal, just mini.
In the shot above, you can just barely see the floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the right, which house cleaning supplies, some not-aesthetic dishes like Tupperware, and whatever pantry staples we have at the moment—like coffee, rice, pasta, and Nutella. (Nutella is definitely a staple.) You can also see our dorm-room-sized fridge, which has plenty of space since people in France buy fresh produce and cheese almost every day. We keep ours stocked with a few basics like butter, yogurt, and wine. (Wine is also a staple.) We have a two-burner electric stove and microwave for cooking, but no oven, which so far hasn’t been a problem. We also have a washing machine! We’ve never had in-unit laundry before, so this feels like a
huge mini step up.
And then, below, you can see the other side of the kitchen, which has more hanging storage and a fold-out drying rack for laundry. The thing that makes this kitchen so functional is the excellent use of vertical storage! I love having things hanging within easy reach.
Overall, although the kitchen is small, it’s remarkably well-stocked. We have four place settings, a number of mixing and serving bowls, several pots and pans, and gadgets like a toaster, immersion blender, and French press. Most importantly, we have three types of wine glasses (white wine, red wine, and champagne—hey, it’s France!) and, for Colin, an espresso machine.
So, that just about wraps up the tour! I think the last view you haven’t seen is our entry foyer, which again has more storage options (are you sensing a theme?), including a ceramic pot that we use for umbrellas and shopping bags, our shoe bin, and small shelves where we keep things like sunglasses and metro tickets. The cute blue teapot on the shelf in the upper left is a decorative duplicate—somehow, this tiny apartment has two teapots and a tea kettle, plus about two years’ worth of cleaning supplies and three vegetable peelers, so I’m not kidding when I say that the storage options in this place are incredible.
Well, that does it. Thanks for joining me on the tour! I’ll leave you with this sweet photo of our window boxes (planted by Colin et moi, thank you very much, although the orange flowers are a bit past their peak now) and our neighbor dogs looking out of their window across the street. If you thought our Parisian apartment was small, try adding two large dogs to the mix!