Passion Points: Style
For some veteran Paris visitors, staying in a hotel or even renting an apartment just won’t do anymore: they want pieds-à-terre of their own. According to recent numbers, the trend toward Parisian-home ownership is particularly strong among Americans. Last fall, the New York Times reported that “Americans make up 11.3 percent of the city’s foreign buyers, the second-largest group behind Italians.” But buying abroad can be a daunting and time-consuming process, especially when your heart is set on a city in which “unfurnished” often means without bare necessities like sinks. Enter A+B Kasha, a pied-à-terre company that renovates and sells furnished turnkey apartments, all located in St. Germain-des-Prés, on the Left Bank.
Designers Alon and Betsy Kasha came up with the idea for their enterprise when they were living in London and overseeing renovations of their first apartment in the French capital. “We thought, Wouldn’t it be great if other people could benefit from our experience?” says Alon, who was born in Israel to a French mother and grew up in New York. “By the time we completed the apartment, we knew how to do everything, from arranging a mortgage to dealing with contractors.”
The Kashas and their two children relocated to Paris in 2004 and have been buying, renovating, decorating and selling prime-location apartments ever since. The residences they work on range from studios to multibedrooms, but all are located within a tight perimeter in the Sixth Arrondissement—nothing west of the Musée d’Orsay or east of the Place Saint Michel. “Each apartment usually has a special detail we fall in love with,” says Betsy, “whether it’s a view, beautiful moldings or a unique layout.” Although the Kashas redo the homes completely, adding state-of-the-art equipment like Miele washing machines and stainless-steel stoves, they are careful to preserve such Parisian details as moldings, French windows and hardwood floors. “Of course, the apartments should feel specific to the destination,” says Alon, “but we also want to offer clients a look that is sleek and high-end.”
The couple works on up to ten projects at the same time, and each apartment takes about one year to finish. Current favorites that will be ready in the fall include Mazarine, a one-bedroom duplex on the Rue Mazarine that has a large private roof terrace with 360-degree panoramas, and Varenne, a top-floor one-bedroom near Rue du Bac with rooftop views of the Seventh Arrondissement, including St.-Clothilde church.
Beyond their responsibilities as designers, Alon and Betsy also help their clients handle the infamous French red tape. “You would not believe how many Americans come to France with a suitcase of cash, because they are so daunted by the whole process,” says Betsy. “Meanwhile, mortgages are not very difficult to arrange.” The apartments are serviced for two years after they are purchased, and if you need to leave your keys with a trusted neighbor, the Kashas live in the neighborhood.
To read about the Kashas stylish insider spots in Paris, click here.
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