République: My Favorite Paris Neighborhood

vintage paris scooter

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you probably know that last month I spent a week alone in Paris. Having never been to France before, I did some research ahead of time to figure out what Paris neighborhood to stay in. I wanted a place that was somewhat centrally-located, but not overly touristy. I also wanted to stretch my dollars and be kind to my budget. I decided to give the neighborhood of Republique (in the 10th Arrondissement) a try and found a great deal on Airbnb. I ended up loving the neighborhood so much that on some days, after exploring the whole city, I’d come back early with plenty of time to soak up the charming hipstery-ness.

paris shutter windows boulangerie paris republique

Republique can be found on the orange line (also known as the 5 train) either at the eponymous stop or the stop called Jacques Bonsergent.  My apartment (a large studio all to myself) was only a couple of blocks away from the latter.  Every morning I’d wake up hungry and head over to one of the pastry shops for a quick croissant before venturing out for my first adventure of the day. I knew almost no French but being able to say ‘Bonjour, une croissant, s’il vous plaît’ will squelch a growling stomach ASAP.

pastry shop paris

This was my plan if I wanted a grab-and-go breakfast. But sometimes I varied the routine.

le poutch paris cafe

le poutch paris interior

When I had more time in the mornings for more of a sit-down breakfast or brunch-y place, Le Poutch fit the bill. Cozy and bright, this cafe also has a nice French magazine selection, mostly of the design and fashion variety, that you can read at your little table at your leisure. A juice bar is right next door.

holy belly brunch paris republique

Down the street from Le Poutch (and next door to a kindergarten) is Holy Belly. They don’t take reservations and there’s usually a wait so don’t sleep in on the morning you plan to go. Very delicious food and worth standing around for.

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I often took this side street as a shortcut when weaving around Republique. Paris is not laid out like a grid at all, the streets go every which way but once I got my bearings I felt fairly proud of myself. I also once ran down this street in the middle of the night during a light rainstorm. The road was quiet and the cobblestones were lit by the hanging lamps overhead. I had forgotten my umbrella at a cafe and was hoping, hours later, that no one had walked off with it. I arrived at the cafe, breathless, a few minutes later. The umbrella was hanging on the back of a chair, just where I had left it.

paris french graffiti street art french parisian streetscape chez prune paris republique

I liked coming to Chez Prune if I wanted a lighter snack-type dinner. Typically I’d have the cheese plate and a glass or two of either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I’d sit at a little table in the very back so I could see the whole restaurant. As you can see, it is on a busy corner with people coming in and out to say hello to friends or smoke at the outdoor tables. The service is friendly but very laid back, so go here if you’re not in any hurry to get any place else right away. I’d just sit at the back, take it all in, and write in my journal. Bliss.

paris bookstore

Up the street from Prune is this utterly fantastic bookstore. Lots of books on photography, art, design, type, and awesome fashion magazines, too. It’s kind of crazy to buy books when you are traveling internationally because they weigh your suitcase down with a quickness. So I limited myself to one book, one magazine and three journals.

paris canal republique

The Seine River snakes through the middle of Paris. Many smaller canals feed into the river, and in Republique the local canal is the Canal St. Martin. Every evening (especially on the weekends) the banks of the canal are absolutely full of people. Although the atmosphere is still very urban, it feels like a park or even a beach.

paper stationary french paris store

This little stationary shop on Rue du Lancry has everything you need for writing long hand. I love stores like this so I was all smiles browsing the cards, journals, notebooks and all kinds of pens and pencil cases.

la pinata paris party supply store

La Pinata is a cute little party supply store. It skews a bit more kid-centric but it’s so colorful and happy inside that it just makes you smile to walk around and brainstorm. It’s where I bought those packs of extra-large sized confetti. They also had piñatas shaped like popsicles and ice cream cones. Too bad those are not suitcase-friendly.

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My apartment was on the top floor of a six-story building. There was no elevator so many times I day I climbed the spiraling wood and wrought iron staircase. It was painted bright red, and I loved this detail. Paris is beautiful in places you wouldn’t even think to look.

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I had such a magical time in Paris (and Republique) that I bought some ‘thank-you’ roses for my Airbnb hosts at a florist on Rue du Lancry. I know I’ll return some day.

Vintage Prom and Bridesmaid Dresses

Prom dress season (and wedding season!) are pretty much here. Many ladies choose to incorporate vintage into their special days, so I thought I’d corral all my best vintage 1950s and early 1960s party dresses from the shop into one place for your perusal. These prom dresses are also great for other spring or summertime formal parties, bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids. The mid century silhouette is a beloved shape for these occasions – they accentuate all the positives and make you feel like Cinderella heading off to the ball.

yellow vintage prom dress lori deb

vintage 1950s yellow dress

vintage 1950s blue embroidered party dress

1950s embroidered blue dress with a pretty bow detailing

1950s pink cupcake prom dress vintage

vintage 1950s pale pink dress

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1950s silk floral print party dress

pink coral vintage 1950s dress big bow

vintage 1950s coral pink bridesmaid dress

vintage mint green eyelet lace party dress

vintage spring green eyelet lace party dress

vintage peach pink lori deb party prom dress

vintage 1950s party dress with rose and bow

vintage bridesmaid prom party dress

vintage 1950s pale peach dress with sheer green overlay

1950s prom dress lavender bow

vintage party dress with a big lavender bow at the back

vitnage 1950s mint green party prom dress

vintage 1950s mint green prom dress

And as always, you can find every dress I have right here.

Six Easy Decorating Tricks

 I’m no domestic goddess. I have however been fortunate enough to live in a variety of spaces as an adult, from a three-bedroom Portland bungalow with a sagging front porch, to a Chicago railroad apartment, to a teeny city studio with no closets, to the kooky place I’m in now (more on that here). This diversity of living spaces, along with the march of time and coming in contact with fantastic design people throughout my life, has given me some very simple decorating concepts that have proven over time to work well, no matter my roommate situation or budget. bud vase vintage hat head succulent pottery

1. Nature in odd numbers – I can’t remember where or when I read this, it may have been in a drawing class in college for all I know.  Plants, flowers, cherry blossom branches, whatever pieces of nature you bring in to your home: remember that nature at its core is chaotic and disorderly.  Four hydrangea stems in a vase looks a little too perfect, a little too studied and staged. Of course, staging these blooms (or whatever else you hauled home from the flower market) is exactly what you are doing, but a way to circumnavigate this feeling of stiffness is to corral them in groups of three, five, or seven.  Greenery exists in your home to bring the outdoors to you, so don’t fence it in too much.

cermaic dish incense palo santo candle trays styling

2. Shapes – Vignettes on tables, dressers, shelves and credenzas can be styled in varying degrees of visual appeal and usefulness. No matter their purpose, I prefer to mix up the shapes of the items I’m putting together. For example, everything on the rectangular white tray in the photo above has an either circular shape (the candles and ceramic jar) or chaotic, natural shape (the rocks), and that was done on purpose to counteract the dominant shape. I also varied the height of the objects, which keeps the eye moving. The other two trays on the table are an oval shape and a true circle shape. Some people love the idea of having square shaped things on square shaped trays, and that’s totally fine. I don’t think one way is better than the other, but they both visually express different ideas. This table is in my living room and I wanted to communicate a relaxed, laid-back environment so I grouped things accordingly.

books bookshelf ikea

3. Books  – Big heavy art books are as beautiful as they are expensive. Am I right? I tend to not buy a lot of books because I live close to a great library, but over the years I have amassed a collection of novels and non-fiction that I just feel better having close at hand. If you like the idea of over-sized coffee table art books (as I do) but are budget-conscious (as I am) why not wait for when you’re at a museum and see a special exhibition that really blows you away.  Getting the book that accompanies that exhibit is your own visual memento of that special time. One day you’ll look around and have a nice collection of all those visits that were momentous enough to warrant a book.

kloss radio vintage vase jonathan adler succulent

4. Textures – Something I also like to be mindful of are the different textures of the objects in my home (both decorative and functional), and how they ‘get along’ when grouped together. In the photo above, there are items made of wood, glass, ceramic items (both glazed and not glazed) and a woven textile – a yarn God’s eye that I made at summer camp as a Girl Scout. And let’s not forget the natural greenery! As with shape and height, I like to vary the textures of the objects I group together, because I prefer my home on the less-fussy side (although of course I fuss over decorating it a great deal!). I also in general am not fond of plastic, although of course there are exceptions. Your milage may vary.

vintage camping cooler

5. Storage as Decor – You may remember that cooler from this post. We all deal with varying degrees of limited storage space and when something is both visually interesting and useful for storing things away, all the better.

ceramic wood fired bowl incense

6. Smells – Everyone’s got their own preferences when it comes to fragrances, and I’m not about to talk about what scents work or don’t work. The one suggestion I have about any of that is when it comes to smelly things (candles in particular) on the kitchen table. It’s best to not have smelly candles lit in the eating area while you are eating, because the scents will compete with the smells of the food you are consuming and disrupt the enjoyment of the meal. Same goes for keeping the scented candles away from the food area when you are throwing a party. Pretty simple.

In general, I like the idea of working with things you already have as opposed to buying new stuff to solve your problems. Sometimes a little bit of re-arranging can bring about a hugely fresh perspective. And of course, using vintage pieces when you can is extra nice.

Photos by Catie Nienaber. Ceramic bowl available at Dronning Home.