Picture from Pinterest
We all know that French women simply nail it when it comes to fashion and beauty, and if you're like me, you would like to know all their secrets about that. But I suspect that you might be just as interested in how they manage to make their homes look so effortlessly chic and comfortable, so that's what we'll take a look at today.
To make it really simple, I'll share with you some design rules that the French live by, and Parisians in particular. Their style is just astonishing. Because they've got it down to a science: Their decorating style is one part casual and one part monarchly elegant. Voilà!
The best part is that you don't need to be rich or live in one of those beautiful old buildings on the rive gauche in Paris to achieve that same look.
But what exactly is a Parisian style?
There's really nothing flashy about it. The walls are mostly painted white or at least in a light color, and the rest of the color palette is also mostly light, but also includes a few darker colors. Examples of light colors that are used the most, are white, beige and grey, and dark colors can be black or blue, but also other colors. Many Parisian apartments also have fishbone-patterned wooden floors, and the French are not afraid of keeping both their walls and floors minimal. If there's any art on the walls at all, it might be one single piece of some size, and it's very often contemporary art.
That being said, the Parisians often decorate their walls with pictures from their travels, or use souvenirs from their travels as beautiful decor elements.
Even though you may say that there's really not ONE particular style that is a Parisian interior style, there are a few very important rules to the Parisian interior decorating style, and these are:
Rule # 1: Quality over quantity
The French generally pay high attention to detail and opt for good quality. They're not afraid to give the furniture "space to breathe", and generally go for a few items of good quality rather than overloading a room. Parisians in particular tend to follow this rule and have less furniture, but the items they do have are of the highest quality that they can afford.
Rule # 2: Don't try too hard!
French interiors are never too curated or perfect. They like to mix vintage with new, and they often bring in elements that bring good memories, and let these items shape the interior. This can for example be something they treasure from the past or something they brought home from a travel.
Rule # 3: The interior must work with your lifestyle
The French create their interior with great attention to how they live their life. It should be both practical and homely. They make sure there are nooks to relax in, space for great meals and gatherings with family and friends, good storage space for their things, - in short: Every space and every item has a function. They are well planned according to their lifestyle.
So how do they put it all together?
Well, let's focus on the Parisian style, but you can easily apply the same decor tips for a more general French look.
The Parisians make sure they include some very specific decor elements, and these are the most important ones:
Decor element # 1: Vintage Rug
Picture from my own apartment
The French like to mix new and old, and one of the things you'll definitly find in a Parisian apartment is a vintage rug. It can be one they've inherited, but most likely it's one they've bought in an artisanal flea market. France is full of brocantes where you can find vintage furniture and other decor elements at reasonable prices. If that's not an option for you, there are plenty of home decor companies that sell vintage-looking rugs nowadays, as it has become a very popular home decor element no matter what style you go for. Stick to the color scheme you have chosen for your home, or choose a color that will bring a beautiful contrast and at the same time complement the rest of the interior. Color is one way to bridge the gap between old and new in a beautiful way.
Decor element #2: Gold mirror
Picture from arhouse.com - Amelie wall mirror
Many Parisian apartments have a vintage chimney in the living room, and you'll most likely find some kind of gold mirror hanging above it. They come in many styles, of course, but the one in the picture above has a very vintage looking style that is very popular and also very elegant. The mirror in the picture at the top of this article is very different, but has that touch of monarchy elegance that the French are so good at implementing without overdoing it. I'm sure you'll be able to find a mirror that suits both your style and your wallet if you look around on the Internet or in your local home decor stores. Here are some links to online stores where you might find some more inspiration for mirrors:
Decor element #3: Chandelier
Picture from my own livingroom
The chandelier is really the magic decor element in many Parisian apartments and has long been a staple of elegance. This doesn't mean that you need to buy one of those crystal chandeliers, if that's not your style, but you can choose from a variety of styles and it might just as well be a very contemporary one. Like I said earlier: A nice mix of old and new - vintage and contemporary - is what the Parisians are so good at, and it's really not difficult at all to copy that style and at the same time make it your very own.
Why not take a look online, for example at Anthropologie, to find some more inspiration for both vintage and contemporary chandeliers. (This is not an affiliate link, so I don't get any commission if you buy anything from their website. I just include it as a service to you.)
Decor element #4: Contemporary art
Picture from Decoholic.com
Many Parisian apartments have ornate architectural features like you can see in the above picture, and the Parisians love to mix those architectural features with contemporary art. Very often, these art elements are left sort of "undone", which means they are not hung on the wall, but propped against a wall or on some piece of furniture, which gives the apartment a very casual, relaxed style which at the same time is very elegant.
When it comes to choosing artwork it's a good idea to buy something that reminds you of your travels, like different trips to Paris, Italy, Greece, or maybe the Middle East? Parisian apartments are often full of travel photography, and I'm sure you have some pictures of your own that you can easily turn into wall art for your home.
If you don't, why not check out some of my pictures that are available as prints and canvases? You'll find them over at my photo webstore at https://else-kosberg.picfair.com/
Decor element #5: Iconic Armchair
Picture from Pinterest - unknown photographer
Like I mentioned above, the French know the value of minimalism and are not afraid of empty spaces. The fact that many Parisian apartments are also very small, makes one or two armchairs a wiser choice to go for than a sofa. That's why you'll always find at least one iconic armchair in a French living-room, and in a Parisian living-room in particular. If this is something you want to adopt in your home, I'd reccommend that you go for something contemporary like a design velvet or some Danish mid-century piece, because a contemporary piece of furniture will help balance out any older and more antique-looking furniture that you might have.
Which brings us to
Decor element #6: Something antique
Picture of my very own inherited antique piece of furniture.
As I'm sure you've learned by now, the French love to mix modern furniture with some antiques, and that's why this is something you'll find in any Parisian apartment. Of course, the French have a lot of flea markets and brocantes to choose from, like Les Puces at Clignancourt (Paris), where they can find almost anything they want for their home. If that's not something you can take advantage of where you live, Etsy might also be a good place to look for some antique and vintage furniture online.
Or maybe you've been lucky enough to inherit some antique furniture that has been in your family for a long time? Then by all means: Use it! It can easily become the focal point you need in your living-room and maybe that particular piece of furniture which gives the room the extra touch of elegance. Something that has been in your family for a long time will also give your home that special connection to your roots and give it an extra homely feel, don't you think?
Another thing that will give your interior that homely feel, and which is something you'll find in any Parisian apartment, is ...
Decor element #7: Candles
Pictures: Left: Product picture from nordstrom.com and Right: picture from www.editionnoire.com
In fact, no Parisian apartment is complete without candles. Parisian women just love scented candles, and the most popular brand of all is Diptyque. According to blogger Katarina Fischer at EditionNoire the brand was founded by an interior designer (Christiane Gautrot), a painter (Desmond Knox-Leet), and a theatre director & set designer (Yves Coueslant), which (again according to Katarina) well explains the elegant product design of Diptyque’s assortment. This is probably why the elegant Parisian women love it so, and why it's become a "must have" decor element in any Parisian apartment. But they are undeniably very decorative and cozy elements that makes any space feel more "lived in", so there's no wonder they have become so loved by anyone who wants to add that cozy feel to their home.
Decor element #8: Vintage inspired vases
Picture: Product picture from www.anthropologie.com
There's some kind of vintage-inspired vase and / or bottle in almost every Frenchie's home or Parisian apartment. Often left empty, and sometimes filled with either fresh or dried flowers, like lavender or larkspur.
If you want to add this decor element in your own home, I suggest you collect an assortment of different vases (typically ceramic or glass) in a range of colors and shapes. This will give it a more collected feel and look very pretty.
Decor element #9: Coffee table books
Picture by thepotterybarn.com
The French find it very valuable if you're able to talk about various topics and have some kind of interesting things or knowledge to share. They like to keep themselves up to date on things and enjoy playing the "intellectual card", if you like. That's why you'll always find books in a Parisian apartment, on the coffee table, in book shelves, or on the bedside table. Books about fashion, home, design, food and wine are definitly something that you need to add to your coffee table if you want to keep up with the French in those areas.
I'm sure there's a lot more to be said about French interior style, and Parisian style in particular, but this was just to give you a certain idea about what the most important rules are. Let's recap before we wind it up:
Rule # 1: Quality over quantity,
Rule # 2: Don't try too hard!
Rule # 3: The interior must work with your lifestyle.
Voilà! It's really as simple as that!
I hope you found this article interesting. If you did, feel free to share it with someone else who might like it too.
And in case you missed it: You can find some nice contemporary art for your living-room over at my print-shop at https://else-kosberg.picfair.com/