It’s been a heady few years for architect couple Hélène Pinaud and Julien Schwartzmann. The two, both 27, met as students at the Strasbourg National School of Architecture. After graduation in 2014, they moved to Paris and launched their firm, Heju, an abbreviation of their first names. They hit the ground running, designing apartments, boutiques, events, and a slew of clever DIYs: see, for instance, their Homemade Terrazzo Table, Metal Wall Organizer, and Tiled Plywood Side Table-Plant Stand with colored grout.
All the while, they’ve been living and working out of their own small apartment, a 538-square-foot garret near Place de la Republic. They sanded the wood floors and painted them white “to gain some sun.” And they overhauled the bedroom to their liking. But short on cash and time, they kept living with a Mediterranean-tiled kitchen that felt all wrong for them—until they decided to approach the project as “a giant DIY.” Their vision? A “minimalist design with clean lines and natural materials,” homemade rather than Big Box. But being extremely budget minded, they turned to Leroy Merlin, the French equivalent of Home Depot, for materials and parts. Come see the results and scroll to the end for an accounting of costs and a look at the kitchen as it was.
Photography by Heju (@hejustudio).
Above: Located in a chambre de bonne—translation: the top floor servant’s quarters—the light-suffused kitchen occupies the footprint of the 50-square-meter (approximately 540-square-foot) existing design. Hélène and Julien did all of the work themselves, including the demolition. “There were a lot of wires and cables on the walls, and the electricity was very old so we renewed everything.”
The enamelware pitcher is Ikea’s $14.99 Sockërart vase. For seating, they use four vintage Breuer chairs.
Above: Hélène and Julien created their clean and simple setup using Delinia cabinet units from Leroy Merlin, which they faced with doors that they cut themselves from birch plywood: “We drilled little holes as handles and protected the doors by rolling on a matte varnish; they’re hung with basic metal hinges.”