My boyfriend and I moved in together in June and we’ve been working on making our apartment a home.
When I was preparing to come to France, I felt like I couldn’t fit enough stuff in my suitcases. I didn’t worry about fitting my clothes—there are too many travel hacks to fit more clothes—but I was more concerned with being able to bring more little things.
I spent the first two weeks unpacking boxes, organizing each living space and shopping for what we still needed around the apartment. Not being able to work while staying on a tourist visa pushed me to be extra productive at home…
Honestly, this article should be titled “How to Change Your Boyfriend’s Bachelor Living Habits in 10 Days.”
Here are a few of my favorite things I’ve added to the apartment since moving in (sorry, B!):
I loved checking out Maisons du Monde when I was looking for things to add to our kitchen. I couldn’t leave without the blue and white damask bowls, the espresso cups set or the gilded flower vase.
The apartment felt empty without some green, so I walked to the neighborhood florist, found this mini palm tree and walked back to the apartment holding it in my arms. This is a picture of when I first brought it home—it has since blossomed in its spot by the doorway, to my boyfriend’s dismay.
We have a large square bookcase in our dining room that stores the major things we use day to day. Having the drawers and storage cubes has helped us organize our storage.
I went to Marche St. Pierre for inexpensive fabric to replace the fuzzy zebra print cloth (?!) below the counter. My original intention was to find a modern print in with neutral colors, but once I saw this fabric, I decided that our grey, black and white kitchen needed a spot of color.
My boyfriend’s grandparents gave us cherry tomato plants earlier this summer. They’ve grown a lot during the past two months and they’re finally growing tomatoes!
The Best Places for Budget-Friendly Apartment Shopping
I love HEMA. Borderline obsessed. Every time I go, I walk around the store once (or twice) to see if there’s anything I can pick up for the apartment. It’s not French—the company is based in Amsterdam—but the discount store model is great for Parisians looking for basic home necessities on a budget. There are several HEMA stores in the city, but I believe the location at Les Halles on rue Rambateau is the largest.
Facebook groups are the Holy Grail for decorating a Parisian apartment on a budget. There are so many people moving to and from the city—students, au pairs, slow travelers, etc.—that are looking to get rid of their home furnishings. Search for expat groups or housing groups like American Expats in Paris and Wanted Community (or any of the Wanted Paris groups).
Monoprix is a smaller, French version of Target. Not only is the food better quality than its competitors, they also have an impressive kitchenware section.
To continue the US-French equivalencies, Castorama is like Lowe’s. The home improvement store has everything you could possibly need to freshen up your apartment.
Maisons du Monde is not exactly budget-friendly unless you shop during the sales or have a gift card so I would recommend going to Maisons du Monde for more decorative, higher quality pieces. If I lived by myself in a studio apartment, it would be so easy go crazy picking out cute, small home accessories.
And of course, if you have a car, there are IKEAs outside of Paris.