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In a Tiny Paris Flat, an Inspired and Inexpensive Storage Solution

Living Area with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement

If you asked me to pick the most ingenious, versatile, transformative storage tool of all time, I’d say the Shaker peg rail, hands down. This may be due to my well-documented obsession with Shaker style, but I’d guess that most editors on The Organized Home team would say the same. (Just see all our posts on the subject.)

But one thing we’d never thought of: using copper pipes the way the Shakers used their peg rails. Both pipes and planks of wood are simple and innocuous on their own but, when wrapped fully around a room, become all-purpose places to hang clothing, artwork, lights, kitchen essentials, mirrors, and anything else you can think of. We spotted this new iteration in a tiny, 236-square-foot flat in a 1666 apartment building (once inhabited by Gustave Eiffel) on the banks of the Seine. The flat’s owner, a retired professor, sought out young architect Ariel Claudet to turn it into a more usable space—and make it stand out on rental sites. Claudet took inspiration from (where else) the Shakers, stocked up on standard, inexpensive copper plumbing pipes, and got to work.

Consider this our latest, beautifully simple but totally transformative obsession. Take a look.

Photography by Cyrille Lallement, courtesy of Ariel Claudet.

Living Area with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: A stretch of copper pipe above a desk serves as both a curtain rod and a rail for hanging a mirror, desk essentials, and artwork (thanks to S-hooks and simple binder clips).

The design started from a problem: “After 350 years of successive alterations, the apartment had neither a straight surface nor two parallel walls,” Claudet says. There was also the issue of needing to conceal the electrical wiring. Claudet needed a solution that could work with the uneven walls, hide the wiring, and provide beauty and functionality.

Enter copper plumbing pipes, relatively inexpensive and “very easy to find, handle, and install,” Claudet says. The pipes carry wiring around the flat to outlets and switches and—an added bonus—serve as endlessly functional, Shaker-inspired, space-saving storage as they wrap around each room.

Living Area with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: Here, you can see how the copper pipes fill an essential need (carrying wiring to light switches and outlets) and act as an ad-hoc place to hang things, via S-hooks.

“Copper has the poetic quality of showing off its history as it ages,” Claudet says. To add to the charm, “I made sure the construction workers did not wear gloves. At completion you could tell the history of the construction thanks to dark fingerprints where workers held the pipes.”

Kitchen with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: The tiny kitchenette gains two walls’ worth of storage thanks to the simple addition of pipes. Note the way the pipes turn into a light fixture above the window, plus the Ikea Råskog Utility Cart tucked into a niche.
Claudet also says that, like the Shakers, he designed the system so that everything would hang without touching the walls. “They are positioned in a way that leaves one-eighth inch for future users to arrange them freely, without leaving any trace on the walls,” he says.

Kitchen with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: On the wall to the right of the sink, Claudet made ingenious use of the pipes. From left: Hooks keep the kitchen sponge and even dish soap off of the counter, fittings double as hooks for mugs, S-hooks hold a metal pot rack, and a hanging clip keeps an apron at the ready. The pipes also provide a convenient place to tie curtains back.
Kitchen with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: On the other wall, S-hooks hold a peg board which, in turn, corrals kitchen tools, pot lids, and a mounted fruit basket.
Bedroom with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: Copper pipes around the bed create a headboard of sorts and end in bedside light switches.
Bedroom with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: A gallery without nails, thanks to hooks and looped wire.
Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: Pipes in a hallway become a de facto coat rack.
Bathroom with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: The plumbing pipes continue into the small and simple bath.
Bathroom with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: Another smart storage hack (no copper pipes required). S-hooks and a flat metal soap dish maximize corner shelves in the shower.
Living Area with Copper Pipes in Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet, Photo by Cyrille Lallement
Above: More gallery space at the foot of the bed (and a place to hang a lamp, at left).
Plan of Shaker Studio Airbnb in Paris by Ariel Claudet
Above: The plan of the tiny apartment, copper pipes not pictured.

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published May 2018.

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