A fashion designer's beautiful Paris apartment
Just a year ago, Thuy (pronounced Twee) Tranthi Rieder relocated to Paris, but already she exudes the chic, effortless style for which the city is known.
Perhaps that is due in part to her rather glamorous upbringing. The daughter of a diplomat, she was born in Saigon and counts cities such as Rome, Athens, and Paris as childhood homes. Or maybe it has something to do with her 18-year career in fashion. She’s held positions at Céline and Chloé, and is currently the global vice president of marketing and communication at Lancel, a luxury accessories brand based in Paris.
Regardless of its origin, her understated elegance applies not only to her personal style but also to the fashionable apartment she shares with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, Arielle. “I looked at so many apartments,” says Thuy. “When I walked into this one, I was struck by the height of the ceilings and the beautiful light. It’s a typical Parisian apartment—very chic with elegant details.”
Gorgeous light and high ceilings aside, the apartment was missing one thing—furnishings. In need of a cozy family home in just three weeks, Thuy called her friend (and decorator) Eric Lysdahl.
“We worked together on their Connecticut house, and we just clicked,” says Lysdahl. “When Thuy called about this apartment, I came running. It is Paris, after all.”
Lysdahl hit the ground running. Literally. “It was rather manic,” he laughs. “I came for two weeks over the holidays and started hunting and gathering on the streets of Paris.”
Falling back on one of his favorite Parisian sources, he scoured the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market for antiques and accessories, and then picked up more modern necessities and objets d’art at one of the largest department stores in the city, Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville.
“The bones of this apartment speak a very strong language,” says Lysdahl. “The plasterwork, the built-in mirrors, the flamboyant mantelpiece, the patterned floor—they’re all very strong. To compete with that, you either have to go full-on Louis XV or you have to be very spare. We didn’t want this space to be too serious, so we went with a hip, young vibe.”
In the living room, that meant balancing the ornate friezes, wood floors laid in a herringbone pattern, and gilt mirrors with sleeker, more whimsical elements and vibrant color.
Furnishings were left relatively sparse. Matching gray sofas flank the fireplace. Lucite tables float above a zebra rug painted in metallic silver. Vintage chairs found at the flea market were updated with a painted stripe down the center—an homage to 20th-century style icon and fashion designer Pauline de Roth-schild. For a touch of the unexpected, a silver bulldog that Lysdahl lugged home from the Marais district on a crowded Metro train amid curious stares holds court under an antique console table.
Thuy initially intended for the apartment’s palette to be starkly monochromatic, but Lysdahl persuaded her to take a more vivacious route: color. Not just any color, but a no-holds-barred, eye-popping, in-your-face fuchsia. Used on the throw pillows and draperies, it single-handedly gives a lively, fresh take to the living room’s traditional bones and stark white walls. “I refer to it as la vie en rose,” laughs Lysdahl.
In the adjoining dining room, Lysdahl complemented the living room’s warm palette with a cooler hue—choosing the same floral fabric for the draperies but opting for blue as a counterpoint to the fuchsia. Equal parts Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, the space conveys the perfect mix of classic and modern.
A sleek dining table with a white embossed top plus an orbit-like floor lamp make modern statements against the classical architecture, herringbone-patterned floors, and an overscale gilt mirror.
“This is a very formal apartment in a formal neighborhood,” says Thuy. “And because the details are so ornate, we wanted to bring in a modern, clean-lined feel. We wanted the space to be more urban and whimsical.”
Overlooking the building’s courtyard, the master bedroom takes a more neutral turn. Gray paint on the walls was left untouched; it offers a soft yet chic foil to the crisp white of the wainscoting and moldings.
Elegant pieces—a white leather Mies van der Rohe daybed and an antique chest crowned with a black-and-white photograph taken by a friend of the family—only enhance the room’s fashion-forward yet serene and ever-so-Parisian feel.
“This is my sanctuary,” says Thuy. “I come here and can shut everything out.”
Photography: Francis Hammond
Interior Design: Eric Lysdahl, EricLysdahl Inc., 212/717-5121, ericlysdahl.com .
Bright and Open Living Room
The apartment’s high ceilings, natural light, and elegant details won the heart of Thuy Tranthi Rieder. Designer Eric Lysdahl opted for a patterned fuchsia fabric from Manuel Canovas for the windows. Vintage Louis XV fauteuils that Lysdahl found at Paris’s famed Marchés aux Puces flea market flank the ornate fireplace.
See more of the living room on the following slides.
Rich Mantel Details
A vignette of coral and seashells lend texture along stacks of books on the mantel.
Antique Living Room Console
A silver bulldog from Moia Gallery in the Marais district of Paris adds an element of surprise from its position beneath a 19th-century console.
Elegant Molding Details
Ornate plaster molding adorns the living room wall panels, which are painted “China White” from Benjamin Moore.
Homeowner Thuy Tranthi Rieder.
The City of Light—and Luxury
A diplomat’s daughter who lived in Paris as a child, Thuy Tranthi Rieder was drawn back to the city by the irresistible offer of a top position at Lancel , the luxury accessories brand. The company was born in 1876, when Angéle Lancel opened her first shop in a bustling neighborhood near the Opéra Garnier. Initially selling pouches and small bags for smoking items, the company quickly found its true calling—creating women’s accessories and decorative objects.
In 1927, the iconic bucket bag (rechristened the “Elsa by Lancel” in 1987 and the “Premier Flirt” in 2006) was born, becoming an instant classic that has since enchanted such Parisian femmes fatales as Josephine Baker, Edith Piaf, and Brigitte Bardot. Today, more than 135 years since the firm’s inception, Lancel’s craftsmanship and elegant magnetism remain evident in every alluring handbag.
Contemporary White Dining Room
The Manuel Canovas drapery fabric echoes the living room’s hot pink version of the window treatment, and its color adds a dash of cool to the sleek dining room décor.
See more of the dining room on the following slide.
Dining Room Mantel
A marble mantel, original to the home, is lined with a trio of bright blue vases that echo the tabletop’s nautical palette.
Textural Tabletop Details
The dining table and chairs are from Modani. The china, a nod to Thuy’s love of sailing, is from Puiforcat.
Details throughout the apartment allude to its rich history and the timeless beauty of the city.
Master Bedroom in Serene Neutrals
In need of a piece of art to hang over the bed and with no time to find one, Lysdahl created a do-it-yourself tribute to artist Cy Twombly.
See bedroom details on the following slides.
Chic Antique Chest
The mirror over the antique chest is from Kaolin in Paris.
Bedroom Chest Details
A black-and-white photo of a Parisian street scene adds a touch of romance behind a pair of horn sculptures and bouquet of fresh roses.
Cheerful Child’s Bedroom
Pink appears again in Arielle’s pattern-filled bedroom, where a mod fabric from BHV mixes playfully with stripes and florals on the bed.