If the Ritz Paris hadn’t closed for renovations in 2012, New York–based interior designer Muriel Brandolini and her husband, Nuno, probably never would have bought a pied-à-terre in the French capital. “The Ritz was like home,” she says. “I wouldn’t even open my suitcase on arrival. I’d jump in the bath, and by the time I got out all my clothes were hanging up just the way I liked it.” Deprived of her beloved Paris hideaway, she initially tried other hotels, only to be disappointed by cramped rooms and meager closet space. Plan C was a rented flat on the Left Bank, but that never felt comfortable either.
Then, like most things Muriel does, the acquisition of the apartment happened swiftly. When she and Nuno, a banker, found themselves with a layover in Paris on their way to Venice, they booked appointments with a few real-estate agents. By evening they’d made an offer on a two-bedroom flat overlooking a glorious church square in the 7th arrondissement. But don’t expect a detailed explanation from Muriel about why they fell for it. “In my life I never say to myself, ‘Why?’” she pronounces, adding in typically delphic fashion, “It just is what it is, when it is.” One safely assumes that the enchanting views and 15-foot ceilings played a role, as did the proximity to Nuno’s mother and brothers. Nuno lived in Paris for eight years as a child, and Muriel spent part of her youth in the city, too, having been sent by her mother, at age 15, to acquire secretarial skills after she dropped out of high school in Martinique.
Known for a haute-bohemian sensibility informed by her travels and an eye for distinctive design, Muriel approaches decorating intuitively and has little patience for obsessing or second-guessing. “I don’t overthink what I’m doing,” she insists. “I just do it and it works.” Acutely sensitive to color, the designer, who enlisted Paris decorator and close friend Caroline Sarkozy to help oversee the project, opted for an atypically subdued and soothing palette. “The painter was so excited to hand-mix the colors with me,” she says. “He told me, ‘Madame, it’s wonderful! You work in the old-fashioned way!’”