La Cuisine Parisienne: Chic and (Kinda) Cheap

black and white kitchen-type

A demo kitchen at Darty

I’ve spent the better part of the last four months researching kitchen designs for my on-again-off-again-(maybe)-on-again renovation project in my Paris place. What I’ve discovered: high style comes at low prices in France. The design innovations and space-saving solutions I’ve seen make American kitchens look like something out of 1930—at least what’s affordable and readily available in American kitchen design. And I use the word “design” loosely here.

I spent two hours in the “Espace Cuisine” at Darty Pont Neuf in Paris—a store that’s part Best Buy and part Home Depot (but nothing like either of them)—where I explored more than a dozen demo kitchens. Dazed and drooling I was as I fondled sleek, glass countertops and shiny, minimalist cabinets; I marveled over sculpture-like range hoods and ingenious storage concepts. The kitchens came in every color and finish, size and configuration. And they were all fitted with appliances equally chic and sleek—and equally reasonably priced.

It was a revelation. Chic and cheap. Never could I have imagined I’d be able to afford my dream kitchen, the sort of kitchen I’ve mooned over, my nose pressed against the showroom windows of Boffi, Valcucine and Bultaup. If I were to renovate my New York kitchen in the same high design style as my Paris kitchen, I’d have to go to one of those aforementioned exclusive “Euro” kitchen design stores where they would extort $30-40K from me for the privilege, and that’s before appliances and installation. My Paris kitchen, fully installed, including appliances would be: €11,000 (USD14K)—a puny price by comparison. In France, high style is accessible to everyone, not just the über rich. Maybe it’s owing to their socialist leanings, or that whole liberté, egalité whatsit, but anyway, vive la France I say !

Here, a mere sample of the delirium of design wonderment I snapped at Darty:
Stunning black and white kitchen.

This striking black-and-white kitchen was the first of the demo kitchens I saw when I entered the Espace Cuisine. Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

This white on white kitchen was the inspiration for my design

This white-on-white kitchen was the inspiration for my design

A kitchen designed to fit under the ubiquitous pitched roofs of Paris apartments. So much storage and convenience in a small space.

A kitchen designed to fit under the ubiquitous pitched roofs of Paris apartments. So much storage and convenience in a small space.

This space-saving appliance is part oven (top) and part dishwasher (bottom). Innovation borne from necessity. European designers understand life in small city apartments. I am seriously considering spending the $1500 on this.

This space-saving appliance is part oven (top) and part dishwasher (bottom). Innovation borne from necessity. European designers understand life in small city apartments. I am seriously considering spending the $1500 on this.

Stunning glass countertops. I want.

Stunning glass countertops. I want.

Ingenious corner drawers. Just one of a zillion storage options.

Ingenious corner drawers. Just one of a zillion storage options.

They calls this unit "the bean." These S-shaped storage trays snake out of the cupboard, making full use of the corner space.

They call this unit “the bean.” These S-shaped storage trays snake out of the cupboard, making full use of the corner space.

Load the dishwasher without bending over. So simple; so brilliant.

Load the dishwasher without bending over? Oh, duh. So freaking simple yet brilliant.

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Affordable Kitchen Design Resources for the Parisian Apartment

Sure you can spend a fortune in high-design stores in Paris, too, but why, when there are so many stylish options at IKEA prices? And speaking of IKEA, that’s the obvious option #1. Here are a few others to get you started.

 

15 responses to “La Cuisine Parisienne: Chic and (Kinda) Cheap

  1. Dang, I’m envious! Your right on the price divide. Just my stove priced out at nearly 8K. I gotta move to France. Nice post!

  2. Sick with Deep envy. My rented garret in the sky is fab but not foodie-oriented. Frigo is mini-bar size for those who don’t need more than 6 mini ice cubes. 2 burners are horrible electric. Will buy a SEB oven soon like in my last garret (Rachel Khoo’s My Little Paris Kitchen btw) so i can make tarte tatin again…
    Drool drool

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  5. You should definitely spring for the oven/dishwasher combo if you go through with the renovation. Don’t forget, even if you end up moving later, it’s common here to take your appliances and even the cabinets with you. You just have to leave the basics – the kitchen sink. 🙂 That corner drawer for flatware? Brilliant! Get that too.

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  9. Hi Lisa! Where did you find the oven/dishwasher combo? I am remodeling my (very) tiny kitchen and this concept would be perfect! I live in the US and haven’t been able to find anything like that. Would love to know where you have seen them or even who makes them!

    • Hi there! Well, I haven’t seen anything like it in the States, sadly. Europe is full of innovative space-savers like this. I found the one pictured in my blog in Darty in Paris (the maker is Candy). You might be able to find a distributor in the States, or an independent appliance store willing to import it, and maybe the maker can do the conversion for US. Agreed, it’s depressing the choices in the States. Everything is huge.

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