Less is more: minimalism with flair in a Parisian apartment
Hidden in a grand building in the heart of Paris’ 10th district, lies a minimalist gem – the home of in-demand interior design duo, Hélène Pinaud and Julien Schwartzmann. Otherwise known as Heju Studio. Here, we speak to the couple about what minimalism means to them, and finding beauty in “the simplest of details.”
Split across two levels, it’s a versatile live/work space that seamlessly adapts to their changing needs. “We love it here,” says Julien. “It has an interesting layout and spacious rooms that can be easily switched up and rearranged.”
So what’s the secret to nailing a functional, pared-back look that doesn’t skimp on personality? We spent the day with the couple (and their cat, Lupin) to discuss the joys of doing more with less, and how they inject their signature style into every project they do.
Expand your horizons
Their aesthetic may be minimal, but it’s got that special something that makes it recognisably ‘Heju’. “It’s gratifying when people come to us and say, ‘I knew it was you.’ It’s something that we strive for,” says Hélène. “But now that we’re working on a great variety of projects, our style’s evolving – from the shapes, to the colours we use. It all depends on the space, changing trends and our clients’ taste.”
Go with your gut
The key to nailing a curated minimalist look? It’s all in the (carefully chosen) details. “Only surround yourself with things that actually mean something to you; things that you won’t get tired of easily. We kept our wedding bouquet, for example. But have fun and trust your first instinct – if you really have a crush on something, go for it!”
Warm up white walls
“White’s the backdrop to all of our projects – it’s so versatile and works beautifully alongside light woods and other natural materials,” explains Julien. But being a diehard minimalist doesn’t need to mean that colour’s off the menu. “When white’s contrasted with subtle pops of colour, it creates a wonderful flow between the different zones of your home.”
Struggling to add character to a rented space? It might be easier than you think. “It can be difficult to feel fully at home when you can’t invest in bigger design works,” agrees Julien. “But you can make real magic with considered accessories and a little paint.” (If you’re after more handy rental tips, Jes Toole has it covered).
Small budget, big ideas
Finding clever design solutions that don’t cost the earth is part of Heju’s DNA. “Our advice? Buy your big, important pieces – like your sofa or coffee table – and then have a go at making the smaller stuff. The result? A space that looks and feels like you, but doesn’t break the bank.”
Become a conscious consumer
Consuming less, but better, is a moral we should all live by. And for Julien, it’s core to the Heju ethos. “It's an integral part of our style, and is incorporated into the way we work. Editing your belongings down so you’re just left with the necessary and the inspiring – that’s a pretty good way to design the perfect home.”
Small space living can be a challenge, but not if you’re considerate about what you bring into your home. “The important thing is to not saturate your space,” Hélène explains. “Pick pieces with a small footprint – like the Skasen floor lamp – and have regular sort-outs. Empty your cupboards and only keep what you really need. Recycle or sell the rest.”
If you work from home, it can be hard to keep your space feeling minimal and zen. Scary pile of invoices staring at you from the sofa? Hélène and Julien have a hack for that. “Disconnecting can be hard – it’s tempting to talk about work all the time. So we have one room dedicated to Heju, and in the evenings and weekends, we close the door.”
Keep it consistent
Whatever your style, when it comes to tying your home together, harmony is key. “You need to think about your home as a whole and make sure all parts of the space complement each other,” explains Julien. How? “Keep some continuity between the different rooms – whether it’s in the colours you use, or the materials.”
Do your homework
How do they stay in the know? “Social media, design magazines and travelling. Sometimes we’ll cross a whole city and take a train to the suburbs just to visit a house or look at a design feature,” says Hélène. And some inspiration’s even closer to home. “Here in Paris, it’s easy to meet like-minded people who want to collaborate.” Team work = dream work.