How to Create a French Inspired Interior

How to Create a French Inspired Interior

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Audrey Hepburn said that Paris is always a good idea. And that is one big truth, for Paris is ideal to inspire one in so many different levels. She has remarkable landmarks such as the iconic Eiffel tower, stunning architectural gems (many of which are made of Lutetian limestone), exquisite museums, an unforgettable style and an artistic verve that is overwhelming. Her architectural consistency is praiseworthy. Likewise, French interiors have a timeless elegance and a rather distinct style that isn’t too hard to copy if you take note of my tips. Obviously, it helps that so many French apartments have beautiful architectural features such as high ceilings with ornaments, fantastic parquet flooring and art nouveau features much too often. After all, this old city was first built around the middle of the 3rd century BC and has never suffered any damages due to a disaster or a war. Therefore, it is a city with a large heritage and a unique aesthetic appeal as trends and movements from all periods have etched their markings over the years on the city-scape, her facades and interiors. Hence, I’d like to share with you pointers on French interior style in an attempt to inspire you to recreate it yourself in your space should you so wish it.

A collage of three images from Paris. The top left is view of Paris cityscape with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The top right is a close up of a building facade. The bottom image is a detailed view of a beautiful stairway with an elaborate art nouveau rail design.

Left: Ilnur Kalimullin on Unsplash. Right & Bottom: source

A French rococo inspired living room with a gilded mirror over the white fireplace, a gorgeous chandelier, large windows and contemporary furniture. Image by Fritz Freyer.

Image by FritzFryer (via). A French rococo inspired living room where the gilded mirror along with the crystal chandelier and scones have made a huge difference design-wise.

I just love the round mirror by this elegant and minimal entryway that has a chair instead of a table to anchor it and a pair of black boots. Image by Nest.

Image by Nest (via). The Adnet Circulaire Mirror was created in 1950 by Jacques Adnet, a furniture designer best known for his Art Deco Modernist designs. This mirror was a product of his collaboration with the French fashion house, Hermes.

Showcase the architecture

So many French interiors have stunning architectural features; a legacy that they are proud of and they showcase it really well. Many Parisian homes are blessed with elaborate ceiling moldings and parquet flooring (chevron and herringbone patterns being the most common).  Yet, they adopt a neutral color palette that acts as a white canvas, like a clean slate backdrop in order to add their own original flair to a space. As such, bright or dark colored wall colors are hardly ever favored. However, accent colors in decor and textiles are most certainly used throughout to make a design statement. As such, contrasts with a big impact are created – a real must!

A white living room with a beautiful old fireplace is a great background drop for the two blue curvy armchairs. Image by Houseology.

Image by Houseology (via). Gorgeous Republic of Fritz Hansen Fri Easy Chairs with fabric and brushed aluminium legs.

A white dining table and chairs look gorgeous in a white room with beautiful chevron parquet floor and large windows with plenty of natural light. Image by Nest.

Image by Nest (via). Check out how beautifully this chevron pattern floor pairs with the ceiling moldings, the large windows and this incredible dining table and award-winning Knoll Tulip Chairs by Eero Saarinen first designed in 1958.

How beautiful is this?! A white nook with desk and designer chairs to compliment it all. Image by Nest.

Image by Nest (via).

Mix styles

Since Paris has a mix of architectural styles from so many different periods, Parisians have an innate ability to blend seamlessly styles when it comes to home décor, too. Every piece counts and understated glamour is ultimate goal. Old pieces come together with new ones with an original flair. Much too often antiques, vintage pieces including area rugs and chinoiserie coexist with new edgy designer furniture. However, make no mistake about this: the French approach home styling with a very minimal mindset. They edit their possessions carefully.

Wow! What a chic white room with a crystal chandelier, a vintage boudoir with mirror and a velvet upholstered chair. Image by Debenhams.

Image by Debenhams (via). Julien Macdonald dressing table.

Room to breathe

French interiors give furniture room to breathe. They are never packed, for unnecessary clutter is a real turn-off for the French. This means that furniture is placed somewhat far apart thus, allowing them to stand out and actually make a statement against the negative space. Again, juxtapositions are of key importance.

A white bedroom with a blue bed and the iconic Fritz Hansen Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen looking real good. Image by Nest.

Image by Nest (via). The iconic Fritz Hansen Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen is looking good as an accent, doesn’t it?

Leave it undone

Another thing that characterizes French interiors is the element of leaving something undone. Of course, some of you may argue that this is typical of their mentality as a people, but that’s something I don’t know for myself. However, it is certainly true that their interiors are never over-styled. Take their flower arrangements that are kept minimal by using one kind of flower instead of many. Frequently, they will leave their bed partially undone in a stylish way in order to place emphasis on the fact that true beauty is never perfect, otherwise it would be boring. If you feel uncomfortable with this idea, then consider other options like a stack of books next to chaise longue as opposed to a side table.

The home décor

A blue chaise longue with Chesterfield like buttonings. Image by Soho House.

Image by SohoHouse (via).

An antique sideboard.

An antique sideboard (via).

A stunning crystal chandelier. Image by Fritz Fryer.

Image by Fritz Fryer (via).

Now when it comes to the actual home décor, there are at least five elements that are quite characteristic in Parisian homes. These are crystal chandeliers, antique gilded mirrors, large artworks, a chaise longue and gold accents that act as art deco reminders. They are the ideal additions to a home that exudes a chic, sophisticated French inspired style. Therefore, even if you don’t have a noteworthy embellished ceiling, a crystal chandelier still remains a great way to light your living/dining room and make an eclectic design statement. Similarly, if you are not a big fan of antiques, a large gilded mirror may do the trick. It’s usually quite stunning when placed over a fireplace mantel, but in case you don’t have a fireplace then I strongly recommend hanging it on top of a sideboard. Don’t be afraid to clash old vintage elements with new ones.

An awesome brass bar cart. Image by Oliver Bonas.

Image by Oliver Bonas (via).

Now, gold accents may not be as easy to introduce. However, a piece like a brass side table or a brassy cart bar (like the one in the picture) can surely add those precious gold accents I just mentioned. Lastly, I’d like to mention that although a chaise longue has grown less fashionable, it remains a typical piece that exudes a timeless French elegance. Therefore, if you do have some spare space then by all means add one on.

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If you are reading other design blogs, then you might notice that many design bloggers argue that lush drapery is also a typical element of Parisian homes. Allow me to have a few reservations on this note though, because I think that’s a bit debatable. Many do have silk drapes with pinch-pleat detailing indeed. Some have more plain linen ones. And many more don’t have any and yet, their homes look just as elegant. One thing is for sure – you will not easily come across a Parisian home with curtains that have pattern prints. On the other hand, you will come across many Parisian homes with velvet upholstered sofas. A bit of lavishness goes a long way in France and anything that’s refined is more than welcome. So I guess you could include that as another element.

So there you have it. It’s quite simple really, but should you need any more advice feel free to contact me. If on the other hand you have any thoughts and/or tips, please share them in the comments below.

Sincerely yours,

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