Renovating the Flat

Balcony Lounge Side After

We closed off our balcony last summer by having double glazed windows installed with aluminium frames. We were left with a kind of “jardin d’hiver” or veranda – a room that you could enter via what was the outside balcony door, but that had no floor or wall insulation and was enclosed mostly by glass. As a result, we didn’t use the space very much.

Last month, we finally had enough means to finish the job. We removed the old interior ex-exterior windows, insulated the floor and outside walls, and had the old main window framework decorated and finished with plasterboard. We also decided, thanks to a friend who did a 3D mockup of the whole idea, to remove the bar that separated the kitchen and the lounge. I have a Flickr set with more photos so you can see more detail.

A local builder quoted a reasonable price and did the work with an associate in about 6 days, during which the flat was full of dust, building materials, tools, protective sheeting and general mess. We had to live in a small demilitarised zone near the television with a path through to the hob and the kettle.

I managed to find parquet flooring (clip style) the same as that which was already in our lounge, so I took up the kitchen flooring and installed more parquet. Now the whole upstairs – our flat is a duplex with bedrooms downstairs – has the same flooring. Almost inevitably (given Yasmina’s passion for interior decoration) this work gave rise to new furniture questions what with all the new space. So after a couple of trips to IKEA we are now proud owners of a new kitchen table, chairs, a free-standing kitchen drawer unit, a metal cabinet for the ex-balcony, and a built-in microwave.

As a result the flat has a more modern feel. The bar we had previously just took up space but wasn’t particularly functional or aesthetic – friends have also admitted they didn’t like it much since it is now gone – and its disappearance has made the visual perception of space much more vast. I might, at risk of sounding pretentious, say that it has transformed the flat into a pseudo-loft style. The kitchen really is part of the same room as the lounge, and that makes it a challenge to decorate successfully. A bit more work on lighting and furniture arrangement – plus some finishing touches on the kitchen units & worktops perhaps – are needed before it’ll all be really top notch. But it already looks pretty nice now, don’t you think?


  1. It’s looking very nice. Specially like the open kitchen area. Thought I quite liked the half wall division but it looks much better now.

  2. fruey

    25/4/2008 at 9:25 am

    Hi Mum

    Yes, it wasn’t until I saw Arno’s 3D render of our flat without the bar that I realised that it was taking up a heck of a lot of space.

    Now seems like much more room because you can see further from most vantage points and you don’t have to walk around the bar to get to the kitchen.


  3. It does look good. Can I invite myself for a coffee in the jardin d’hiver whenever I get to Paris?

  4. fruey

    27/4/2008 at 8:30 pm


    Great to see you here again.

    You are most welcome any time. As are, of course, your whole family if you’re ever all in Paris. Marhaba bikoum.

    We’re 10 minutes by train from St Lazare if you catch a direct train, 20 minutes on the train that stops everywhere.

    It’s not really a jardin d’hiver any more though… but a nice place to drink tea or coffee and philosophise.