The Parisian-style decor is just spectacular. With high ceilings, tall windows, carved moldings (“moulures”), marble fireplaces, herringbone parquet floors, and wall panelings (“boiseries”), Parisian apartments have truly charming architectural details. And Parisians know exactly how to sublime these exquisite architectural elements with just a few decor pieces and by following specific interior styling rules. Sophisticated and elegant, the Parisian style decor is timeless.
To achieve this look in your home, you don’t have to be a millionaire, live in a beautiful Haussmannian building on the Rive Gauche, or decorate your home with priceless antiques. Being French, I’ve lived in the 4th Arrondissement of Paris on the Île Saint-Louis, and in this article, I’ll show you how to recreate this look in your home. First, I’ll explain what characterizes the Parisian style decor and what makes Parisian interiors truly unique. Then, I’ll reveal my best interior styling tips to achieve this look in your home.
8 Best Interior Styling Tips To Decorate Parisian Style
What Is Parisian Style Decor?
Parisians are quite modern when it comes to interior design. While they appreciate their classic, historic apartments situated in the city center, Parisians master that classic and contemporary mix and that constant balance between design and antique. And even if they adore design furniture, antiques, and contemporary arts, there is nothing flashy about the Parisian chic interiors. Simplicity is valued; art is often large and singular, or simply not there at all, and furniture is given room to breathe.
1. Parisian Apartments Architectural Features
A typical Parisian-style apartment would have white walls, floor-to-ceiling wall paneling, old herringbone parquet floor, tall windows, sometimes double windows with iron balcony, moldings, and marble mantels both in the living room and the bedrooms.
2. The Color Palette
In a typical Parisian apartment, walls are generally painted white. The color white allows to bring out the details of the historic ornaments and to get as much natural light as possible. To add contrasts and depth to a room, deep colors such as blue-grey, beige-grey, grey, and black are sometimes used on a wall or on a door.
Jewel-toned colors like emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red, amethyst purple, or even citrine yellow also play a role. These colors just need to be an accent like an armchair, a sofa, a cushion, or a lamp. These jewel-toned colors match perfectly well the herringbone parquet, the white walls, and the wall panelings of Parisian apartments.
To recreate this Parisian-style decor in your home, you’ll need to opt for parquet flooring. From chevron and herringbone, parquet de Versailles, Bordeaux, to Chantilly, you can choose from many different parquet patterns. Maybe I’ll recommend avoiding the mosaic hardwood flooring which looks a little bit dated.
For the kitchen, the bathroom, and the laundry room (“les pieces d’eau”) opt for cement tiles (“carreaux de ciments”) —which are very popular right now, or alternatively ceramic tales which are less pricey. Think marble, waxed concrete, mosaic tiles, French terracotta tiles —which are called “tomettes” in French, and even parquet flooring. For more interior styling tips, check out my article on how to create a French bistro-style kitchen.
Also, don’t forget to sublime your flooring with beautiful rugs. For the living room, Parisians generally go for traditional Persian rugs with jewel-toned colors —even better if it’s vintage. While in the bedroom, traditional Moroccan or Egyptian rugs made in wool are preferred. For more interior styling tips, read my article on how to create a Parisian-style bedroom.
The chandelier is the magic decor piece of the Parisian style decor. All Parisian apartments feature one of these sparkling beauties. You can choose from many different styles: mid-century lighting chandeliers, crystal chandeliers, or more contemporary lighting pieces. If your home already features very classic and adorned moldings, floor-to-ceiling wall paneling, and parquet flooring, it can be interesting to add a more contemporary chandelier to balance out the older, more antique-looking items. Whatever you choose, you’ll be surprised what a big difference it makes when you swap out a basic fixture for a chandelier.
5. Furniture Style
Parisians master perfectly the art of mixing the classic with the contemporary, and the design with the antique. In the best Parisian interiors, periods and styles are mixed all together —family heirlooms, vintage found objects, travel souvenirs, and contemporary furniture— for a style that’s truly personal. The contemporary piece helps balance out the more antique-looking architectural features of Parisian apartments.
However, a modern Parisian interior is neither over styled nor over staged. Parisians know the value of minimalism, and aren’t afraid of empty space, on their walls or their floors. Art is often large and singular, or simply not there at all, and furniture is given room to breathe. As always, “less is more”. Parisians generally have only a few key pieces of furniture, but the best quality they can afford.
6. Artwork: Murals And Mirrors
If Parisians love their immaculate white walls, sometimes the walls are adorned with panoramic, antique, exotic, or scenic wallpapers and decorative panels. Very often inspired by 18th-century wallpapers, new or reissued designs give an elegant antique feel to a room. If you’re looking for this style of wallpaper I’ll recommend the French companies Papiers de Paris, Zuber, or Ananbô.
Simply placed above a magnificent marble fireplace, the gilded mirror is an integral part of the Parisian decor. Thus, it is mainly found on the fireplace in the living room but it can also be found on the floor in a bedroom or a dressing room for example. It’s the perfect decorative item to brighter the room and to create the optical illusion of more space.
Finally, the best Parisian interiors are filled with contemporary art, travel souvenirs and photography, antique paintings and sculptures, and minimalist modern art. Parisians love above all the juxtaposition of minimalist modern, contemporary, and exotic art with more classic architectural features. Sometimes, things are left undone: artworks are frequently propped against a wall on the floor or on a piece of furniture. When it comes to choosing artwork, there are no proper rules. Just surround yourself with meaningful objects, decor elements, and artworks you love and with things that make you feel “warm and fuzzy”.
7. Flowers And Foliages
Paris is not known for being a particularly “green” city, contrary to other European cities. That’s why Parisian interiors are always adorned with plants and flowers. And with the Covid-19 lockdown, more and more Parisians are now revamping their living spaces into urban jungles through houseplants.
There are a few ways to decorate your home with plants and flowers in the Parisian way. You can transform your outdoor space into a chic Parisian balcony, or you can create a Parisian exotic indoor garden and make a statement with taller plants. Also, you can add a bouquet of fresh flowers to the different rooms of your home. Or if you’re too busy to take care of fresh flowers, dried flowers are a great alternative. I do love dried flowers as they add some colors to the room and don’t look fake like artificial plants.
In the best Parisian interiors, it’s all about the details! A Diptyque candle on the marble fireplace mantel, a Marseille soap on the kitchen countertop, a Baccarat vase with fresh lilies on the dining room table, a beautiful book about Chanel on the coffee table, or some Buly 1803 creams and scented lotions in the beauty cabinet in the bathroom, all of these decorative pieces add a cozy touch that makes any space feel instantly more lived-in. For more, read my articles on the best French candle brands and the best French luxury dinnerware brands to elevate your table.
Et voilà! I hope this guide to the Parisian-style decor will inspire you to decorate your own home. If you have any questions, please add your comment below.
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Bonjour and welcome to Leonce Chenal, a modern lifestyle platform created and curated by a French woman for lovers of everything French. I’m Leonce, born and raised near Annecy, France. Through this website, I want to share with you the passion I have for my home country and for the French art de vivre. Merci for visiting and à bientôt! —Leonce