Here is your ultimate guide to decorating your home like a chic Parisian with plants and flowers. A Parisian woman’s apartment is chic yet welcoming, classic with a modern edge, and sophisticated without being too much. The spaces feature a perfect mix of vintage, contemporary, and classic pieces without looking too extravagant. Essentially French women’s spaces are timeless, classic, and chic.
In a previous article, we’ve seen French interior tips to decorate your home like a chic Parisian but also the 10 steps to create a Parisian-style bedroom. Today I wanted to dive a little more into the most popular indoor house plants and flowers that are found in Parisian homes. Being French, I’ve lived for several years in Paris (both in the 17th and 4th arrondissements), and I wanted to list my best tips to decorate your home with plants and flowers the Parisian way.
Paris is not known for being a particularly “green” city, contrary to other European cities like London, Lisbon, Copenhagen, or Berlin, which have a higher number of green spaces. And this issue has become particularly apparent to many Parisian when they’ve been confined to small areas of the city —due to Covid-19 lockdown—, and in many cases, arrondissements that are void of green spaces. That’s why a Parisian home is always adorned with plants and flowers, and more and more Parisians are now revamping their living spaces into urban jungles through houseplants.
How To Decorate Your Home Like a Parisian With Plants And Flowers
Whether you want to add a little greenery to your indoor space à la Parisienne or you want to start your houseplant collection, here are six tips to decorate your home with plants and flowers like a chic Parisian.
1. Transform Your Outdoor Space Into A Chic Parisian Balcony
To bring a touch of greenery into your daily life, the easiest way is to make the most of your outdoor space or balcony. In Paris, balconies are most of the time an outdoor space arranged with plants in order to preserve intimacy. That is why, in the manner of a screen, pots in a row, or climbing plants spread over a bamboo fence, can easily find their place on a Parisian balcony.
Parisians usually think of their balcony as a space with three separate areas for plants: a facade (where climbing plants can grow up the wall), a floor (where potted plants can cluster), and a railing (for window boxes full of herbs and sun-loving flowers). Depending on your exposure to the sun, it is important to choose the most suitable plants. The most common flowers and plants you’ll find on a typical Parisian balcony are: climbing hydrangeas, rose bushes, lavender, lilac, star jasmine, agapanthus, bamboo, geranium, hibiscus, olive, and citrus trees. Parisians can also plant a small vegetable garden on their balcony to grow delicious organic produce such as tomatoes and lettuce. Indeed, large tubs allow them to grow their own vegetables, even in the Paris center!
Shop Parisian Bistro Style Outdoor Furniture
Don’t forget to think about adding some garden furniture to your balcony! A bistro table with two chairs, a coffee table, or a chaise lounge is perfect to create a beautiful Parisian-inspired outdoor space. I’m in love with this beautiful round marble bistro dining table and these Parisian bistro chairs. For smaller outdoor spaces, I recommend this French-built steel table and these steel chairs that will bring the Parisian bistro life to your backyard or garden. And you can pretend to be in Paris’s Jardin du Luxembourg with this iconic side chair originally created for the Parisian garden in 1923.
2. Create A Parisian Exotic Indoor Garden
If you don’t have a balcony, you still have the possibility to create an enchanting exotic garden in your interior. Parisians love exotic plants! Indeed, they allow them to escape from the grisaille Parisienne (“the grey every day in Paris”) without leaving home. And best of all, you don’t need to live in the tropics in order to enjoy these exotic environments. But, you just need to install dozens of plants with pots of various sizes.
Within a jungle environment, emphasis is often placed on non-woody vegetation, therefore, you’ll want to focus on using a variety of foliage plants consisting of different colors, forms, and textures. You can opt for ferns (my favorite is the Dicksonia Antarctica), cycads (such as sago palms), palms, Monstera Deliciosa, Sansevieria Trifasciata, Ficus Elastica, Philodendron Gloriosum, Euphorbia Ingens, Calathea, Strelitzia Reginae, or Bird of Paradise. Plants with striking foliage will add dimension while those having dramatic blooms will provide additional interest to the exotic jungle garden.
To create a beautiful Parisian exotic indoor garden, my source of inspiration is the Winter garden of the Hôtel de la Païva —an hôtel particulier, a type of large townhouse of France, that was built between 1856 and 1866, at 25 Avenue des Champs-Élysées by the courtesan Esther Lachmann, better known as La Païva—. I do love the way the Italian Renaissance architecture and Art Deco furniture meet with potted palms and banana trees.
3. Make A Statement With Taller Plants
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen cacti and succulents dominating the scene, but there’s now also a big place for life-like taller plants —from fiddle leaf fig trees to ferns, palm trees, and bananas—. Indeed, these taller plants will not only serve as focal points in a typical Parisian home but will also provide much-needed shade for smaller plants. Good options are Monstera Deliciosa, ficus plants, banana trees, Strelitzia Reginae, Elephant Ear plants, and large palm plants.
My Parisian decor tip is to think about the size of the plant in relation to the size of the room. The larger plants will work best with more space so they don’t cramp other items. For example, a big, bushy, leafy plant is a great addition to a bathroom, study, or dining space, and can be used together in a large group to create a mini indoor garden. Position near or facing a window so that they have access to lots of light.
Shop Parisian Style Pots & Planters
Parisians usually avoid all kind of plastic pots and planters. Instead they prefer planters made of natural materials like ceramic, terra cotta, wood, rattan or woven. Indeed, a simple ceramic pot can make a Bird of Paradise or Monstera look more like a thoughtful addition to your living room décor. I love these beautiful pots made of terracotta clay, these hand painted ceramic planters (which reminds me of the Portuguese Azulejo) and this large rattan basket planter.
4. Add A Bouquet Of Fresh Flowers
A bouquet of flowers (un bouquet de fleurs) is the perfect finishing touch for a Parisian chic home. However, the French don’t get too fussy with elaborate arrangements with a mix of colors and flowers. Instead, there are a few rules to follow to make a flower arrangement the (right) French way:
- No need for more than three varieties of flowers in a bouquet,
- The color palette of the bouquet should feel tonal, nonchalant, and not too busy —using one or two colors—,
- Always choose flowers that can easily go together,
- Finally, don’t forget foliage that complements flowers nicely.
There are some flowers that Parisians adore like roses, orchids, buttercups, camellias, lilies, or peonies. Being French, I love a fresh bouquet of white lilies; these flowers smell so good and they can last up to two weeks.
5. Opt For Dried Flowers
Parisians love dried flowers (les fleurs séchées)! It’s the perfect alternative to real plants and flowers, especially if you’ve never been able to keep anything green alive for more than a week. And in every Parisian home, there is always somewhere in the living room, a beautiful vintage-inspired vase, or a carboy bottle containing dried flowers. Dried florals don’t look fake and add subtle colors and a vintage vibe to the room. Opt for wildflowers of all different varieties like dried Eucalyptus, Lavender, Avena, or Larkspur. Also, don’t forget that those bouquets of fresh flowers sitting in your home can become a beautiful dried arrangement.
6. Add Some Kitchen Greens
Parisians usually include a planting space in a kitchen to grow many varieties of aromatic plants. Indeed, several pots of small size, placed in a square, will give you access to aromatic herbs and plants while making your kitchen look amazing. Also, herbs are some of the easiest indoor plants to grow! You can grow mint, sweet thyme, basil, chive, or rosemary which are fragrant and useful kitchen features. Add in terracotta pots so you can easily remove and water them (but not too much).
Do’s And Don’t
- Avoid faux flowers and artificial plants which, most of the time, look fake. Instead, prefer dried plants if you’ve never been able to keep anything green alive for more than a week.
- Also, you don’t have to have the greenest fingers to benefit from some indoor houseplants. Great indoor plants for beginners include Sansevierias, Peace Lilies, Anthuriums, and Monstera Deliciosas.
- Adapt decoration to your own space. Add small plants to staircases, inside open chests, on top of cupboards, on shelves, on the mantlepiece, and in the bathroom.
- Choose wisely! Don’t just grab the trendy plant. Make sure you research plant care to see what will thrive best in your home. Some plants need more shade than others. One rule of thumb: the darker the plant or leaf, the more likely it will need more shade.
Et voilà! I hope this guide will help you to create the most beautiful Parisian-inspired home with plants and flowers. Let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. When you purchase through links on the site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only recommend products I genuinely love. Here’s why you can trust me.
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