This Paris Life

Expert Insight, Breaking News, and Insider Stories on Real Estate in Paris

Would you buy and renovate a property in Paris without ever seeing it in person?

In 2020, when the world was in lockdown due to Covid, there were some people who decided that their life goals should not be put on hold even one day longer.  This is the story of a man who did just that, and how it changed his life forever.

It had always been the dream of Chris M and his wife to own a place in Paris, but after she died in 2018, and Covid hit, time suddenly seemed like a precious resource that shouldn’t be wasted.  Chris decided to take the leap, even though there was no way to get to France.

We sat down with him with some questions:

  • How did you fall in love with Paris and decide you wanted a place there?
  • What were some of the unexpected challenges and pleasures of the process?
  • How did the design and decoration evolve?
  • How has having a place in Paris changed your life?
  • What advice would you give someone who is thinking of getting a place in Paris?


Question:   How did you fall in love with Paris and decide you wanted a place there?



In high school,  I had a French teacher who really instilled in me a love of the French language and culture. I don’t know what it was. It just sort of struck a chord. And when I graduated from high school, having saved up all my money from working in a hardware store, I decided I would go to France. I went to France and several other countries in Europe that summer , and I knew after I was there physically, that it was a place I wanted to return to. And over the years, my wife and I actually spent most of our vacations in France. We were Francophiles, through and through. We rented cars and explored many of the different regions of France, and then later explored many by bicycle. But Paris was always part of our itinerary. So we spent a lot of time in Paris over the years, and fell in love with it. We often talked about maybe someday having a little apartment there. We used to stroll in the evening and look up at lighted windows and think: wouldn’t it be wonderful to come home and turn the key, and walk in and stay? And also to be there for an extended period to really live like a local and not be chasing every day to see this and that, but have days where we’d just say “ Let’s stay in our own little neighborhood, and go to the markets, and cook tonight “. And we would often stop and look at real estate ads in the agency windows; so it was always a dream.


In 2019, about a year after my wife passed away, I decided to return to Paris. I hadn’t been in Paris since 2010, but I still found Paris had the same beauty and allure . It really rekindled in me that long-held dream of having a place there where I could live part of the year and live like a local.

And then COVID hit! COVID gave me a lot of time to look at things in my life. And of course, I thought about Paris , and started looking at ads online for Paris apartments. I also studied PPG’s website, read some of your other client interviews , and I read what your contractors had written about guidelines for remodeling and decorating. I was sort of obsessed with learning about what it would take to make my dream of owning an apartment in Paris a reality.


Chris found an online listing for a small apartment of 33 m2 (355 square feet) and asked Paris Property Group to evaluate it and advise him on purchasing it.  The address was on the quiet and elegant rue de Verneuil, in the Carré de Antiquaires section of the 7th arrondissement, where he had walked years before, looking up at the lighted windows and dreaming. The property had two large French door windows overlooking the charming street.  The rest was outdated and cut up. It had been used as an office for years, but had also been neglected for some time.


What drew me was the location, the fireplace, the elevator and and a cellar, and it just had a lot going for it. So that’s when I picked up the phone and called you. And I said, “you know, I had every intention of working with you in the spring but I think I found an apartment. Will you work with me?” And you said yes. So thanks to all your help, I have this apartment.

Once the purchase was negotiated and secured, we brought in renovation and design experts to turn the place into a tiny bijou.  The place was large enough for a studio, but clever planning managed to forge a separate bedroom, entry, bath, storage and living spaces.

Throughout the process to purchase, and the months of renovation, Chris had to stay in California visiting the place only via FaceTime.  Finally, in the late fall of 2021 when vaccines started to become available and planes started flying again, Chris was finally able to visit his finished property and see it for the very first time.


The bed expands to accomodate two, or can be downsized to twin size for a more spacious feel.



Question:   What were some of the unexpected challenges and pleasures of the process?


Most of the problems were COVID-related, like some building materials were hard to get, appliances and fixtures were in short supply, and there were delays because some of the workers got COVID . And then there were a few discoveries that I later learned are par for the course with a building that dates from 1750. The floor was very wonky, uneven from one side to the other. And so that had to be addressed. And when they tore up the ceiling, they discovered there was a beam that wasn’t structurally sound. So that involved putting in a steel beam, which didn’t turn out to be a big deal.

The nice thing about working with experienced professionals like you and the MRL team is that I was reassured that it’s not out of the ordinary to find these issues in these old Paris buildings. And importantly, I was reassured that the issues could be resolved. In many respects, being at a distance was an advantage for me. I wasn’t there for the day to day issues that would arise. So if something wasn’t done correctly, they caught it and I might never even know about it. Having a set of trusted advisors , especially the contractors, interior architect, and the notaire, all of which I got through you, made it all go smoothly. So you can beat your drum as much as you want. It’s well deserved because I know I would never be in the situation I’m in now with this fantastic little place without all your help and advice.


Paris Property Group connected Chris with all the resources he needed, and guided him every step of the way.  The renovation and design aspects were taken on by Monte Laster and Jeff Tometich, and their firm, MRL Design Studio.  Read more about the renovation process.


Question: How did the design and decoration evolve?


I’ll never forget when I walked into the apartment for the first time. Monte had completely decorated and furnished it- totally turn-key , which is what I had wanted. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. It felt so right, and so much like the place I had imagined and hoped it would be. And as I stood there in a state of awe, trying to take it all in, I remember Monte saying to me, “ You know , Chris, you don’t have to keep anything I put up. Anything you don’t want I’ll take away. You keep what you want, from the stuff on the walls to decorative objects. Over time you will make it yours , but anything you don’t want, you know, put in a box and we’ll take it away.”  But honestly, I couldn’t imagine changing one thing. I loved everything he did. Over time, looking around galleries and the flea markets, I found some things and I would think, “That would be great there or there”. So there are a few changes that I have made , just as Monte suggested I would do, to “make it my mine “.  But I photographed everything Monte did, so that if I moved anything, I could put it back the way he had it. He has such an incredible eye.

I also thought I didn’t want to have to arrive and then have to go out and buy pots and pans and lug them home on the metro , and so I said “just do the kitchen”. We talked about what kind of cookware, small appliances , flatware I liked, what design,, etc, It was such a wonderful collaboration, even on this level.
He really got what I wanted. He understood the “feeling” that I was looking for. I sent him photos of one of my favorite paintings that hangs over my bed at home. I said , “Monte, this painting has colors that speak to me.” And it turned out that these were some of the colors that he used in the apartment. The greens, the beautiful, warm “drop cloth “ color on the walls in the living room. But in showing the painting to him, I really didn’t know how it would ever translate. Do you know what I mean? I had no idea what the takeaways would be for him. I just said , “Here’s something just to give you an idea of what speaks to me. “
He would send images of furniture to me. He introduced me to two designers for lighting from the 50s that I had never heard of. So during the pandemic , I immersed myself in studying these designs and the designers behind them. I could study them at length, look at all their work , and some of the things I saw were great. He opened my eyes to so many wonderful things in the world of design. And then out of the blue he would send me an image of something , and it was perfect – like the chandelier in the living room. I looked at the photo and I thought “Wow! Yes, absolutely!” And the chairs in the living room-same thing. I never would have found them on my own. The entire project, for me , was a most satisfying and enjoyable collaboration.

One of the things I love the most about my apartment is the feeling of “ space”  that he created. It feels bigger than the 360 square feet that it is. And the living room is amazing – it is so multi-functional, warm and inviting.  It’s a great space for having people over for a drink,  but I’ve also had full dinners there for four or five people where I just put things out on the low center table. And it creates this relaxed, convivial feeling. The room is big enough so that you don’t feel like you’re on top of each other, but intimate at the same time. And I love sitting in the living room in the early mornings, listening to music, while the street lights are still on, or reading there for a while in the evening after coming home from an evening out. I’ve never had a room like that, one that functions so well and feels so good. It’s quite a magical space.


Question: Is there anything you would do differently, or any recommendations you would make to others considering getting a place?


In hindsight, my only regret is that I wasn’t able to make this dream come true years ago.


Read more about the renovation process.

Contact Paris Property Group to learn more about buying or selling property in Paris.

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