Gorgeous Parisian decor style takes its cues from the elegant historical apartments in the Centre of Paris. Here is how to nail the City of Light home interior look.
When we think of Parisian decor, the gorgeous interior style that comes to mind takes its cues from sumptuous apartments steeped in cultural history that dominate Central Paris.
With their high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling double windows, wall panelling (“boiseries”), marble fireplaces, handcrafted mouldings (“moulures”), and exquisite parquet flooring, Parisian apartments have been the inspiration to many living spaces around the world.
Take a walk down the well-heeled Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 8th arrondissement on the right bank (“rive droite”) of the River Seine to soak in all the beauty of Baron Haussmann’s architecture, the man who rebuilt Paris Under Napoleon III from 1854/60.
Whilst you may not live in a spectacular Haussman apartment, let’s first take a look at what defines the Parisian decor style, and what makes Parisian interiors quintessentially chic, particularly for the fashion inclined. Lastly, let’s explore a few interior styling tips you can draw upon to create your own Parisian apartment decor style that best reflects your uniqueness.
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What is Parisian Style Decor?
The Parisian decor style is more of a tendency than a set of actual rules. Generally, there are some characteristics that can be found in most Parisian apartments.
Parisians like to blend classic and contemporary interior design styles in their apartments to give them an updated and more unique look.
In a typical Parisian apartment, contemporary art and decorative objects sit comfortably next to antiques, vintage pieces and design furniture.
Parisian interiors beautifully embrace different historical periods and design styles that embody the homeowners’ personality and taste.
Travel souvenirs, family heirlooms together with upcycled and stunning thrifted pieces found at flea markets or vintage boutiques are interestingly juxtaposed to create an effortlessly elegant interior.
However, it is not uncommon to find departures from these common design style traits, which actually make them even more stylish.
The best way to describe Parisian interiors is to focus on how Parisians embrace their apartments’ architectural elements and bring them to life with interesting furniture styles and decorative objects that celebrate their individuality.
Let’s now look at a few interesting features Parisians tend to lean on to bring their beautiful apartments to life, and how you can cleverly draw inspiration from them for your home.
8 Best Interior Styling Tips To Recreate a Parisian Style Decor
Celebrate Architectural Features
The majority of Parisian apartment buildings were built between 1800 and 1950 with various architectural styles including Haussmann building style, Art Nouveau and Art deco.
Their various architectural features make them stand out from your typical British, American or tropical house and apartment.
Beyond their small footprint, uneven floors, and in some cases, exposed beams, traditionally styled Parisian apartments are characterised by a number of key features.
White walls, intricate mouldings on ceilings and walls, beautiful wall panellings, and large double windows wrapped around wrought iron balconies, old herringbone parquet flooring, and marble fireplaces are some distinguishing features found in many Parisian apartments.
To emulate Parisian architectural features, work with or add beautiful wall panelling and faux mouldings to your home interiors, and paint them in a colour that makes them stand out.
Embrace Classic Parisian Colour Palette
The Parisian colour palette is made up of various shades of white, pale and earthy colours such as a light beige, grey and olive green. Some examples are stone walls, with beige coloured textiles like light-coloured cotton or linen fabric to provide warmth.
Natural materials such as sheepskin or wool rugs for flooring can also provide a calming influence in Parisian decor style.
In addition to that, black, beige with hints of grey, and blue grey are cleverly used on interior doors and accent walls.
Vibrant yellow, pastel pink, emerald green, various hues of blue and purple, and ruby red also form integral parts of the colour palette found in Parisian apartments. Again, they are sometimes present in an accent wall, a sofa, accent chairs, cushions, or other French home decor accessories.
Elevate Parisian Flooring Decor Style
The floor in a Parisian apartment decor has texture and personality of its own and while you don’t have to follow any set rules, there are some guidelines you can use to create your own look in your self-styled Parisian apartment decor.
Elaborate parquet flooring adorn the main living spaces and bedrooms of traditionally styled Parisian apartments. Like today’s French decor styles, feel free to experiment with different patterns of parquet flooring.
From the popular herringbone and chevron parquet patterns to the traditional French-inspired parquet de Versailles, Bordeaux, and Chantilly or Basket Weave, and Mosaic, cleverly mix 2 parquet patterns in different rooms to achieve a unique flooring look.
For high traffic spaces such as the kitchen, the laundry room or the bathrooms, a variety of flooring options is available to you. Think waxed concrete and cement tiles that are quite trendy right now. French terracotta tiles (“tommettes”), ceramic and porcelain tiles are other alternative flooring options to choose from. For a high end look, marble, other natural stones, and stratex flooring are solid options if you have the budget for it.
To finish off your Parisian flooring decor, dress up your living spaces with Persian style rugs in a variety of colours the way Parisians tend to do. Those who are into Minimalism decor style, prefer to go for a more stubble colour palette in beige, jute, or earthy tones. Traditional Egyptian or Moroccan Berber wool rugs are the preferred options for either their living spaces and their bedrooms.
Invest in Superb Lighting
Chandeliers remain the “pièce de résistance” of traditionally styled Parisian apartment decor in light of their high ceilings.
If you live in an apartment or a home with high ceilings that are decorated with beautiful mouldings in intricate classic designs like historical Parisian apartments, opt for a more contemporary chandelier to add interest into your living space.
On the other hand, if your home has low ceilings with a flat or a more modern vibe, superb semi-flush lighting both in contemporary and classic design styles will work well depending on how you pull off the rest of the elements in your rooms. Read more on how to choose the right lighting for your home.
Mix Different Furniture Styles
Parisians have a knack for mixing different styles, colours and decor elements together to create a one-of-a-kind style in their homes. And, they achieve it in a way that helps maintain an airy feel to their apartments and an effortlessly elegant atmosphere in which high quality classic and contemporary furniture pieces easily connect with each other to tell a story.
To bring that Parisian decor style into your home, invest in the best furniture pieces that you can afford. Remember quality and not quantity is the key.
The rules here are to avoid over staging and cramming your space; less is definitely more when it comes to modern Parisian decor style.
A few trips to flea markets, antiques shops, and thrift stores will serve you well in finding authentic and affordable furniture pieces to elevate your home.
Mix classic French style furniture pieces with more contemporary furniture from Ligne Roset, Guby or any other furniture style of your choice if you have the budget for it. For at least one of your bedrooms, opt for a modern style French bed if you can, and bring it to life with a few
modernist and contemporary decor accessories to keep it fresh and original. To get some inspiration, check out my article on French Country Bedroom Must-Haves To Taste “La Vie Château”.
Marry the Old and the New in Artwork and Murals
Parisians like to decorate their walls with superb wall panels and various styles of wallpapers ranging from exotic, vintage, traditional French style to panoramic wallpapers in various colours. Some French wallpaper manufacturers with show-stopping wallpaper designs worth checking out include Isidore Leroy, Ananbô, Bien Fait, and Papiers de Paris.
The signature trumeau, the original gilded mirror that dresses up marble fireplaces of apartments and French castles is a must-have to elevate your Parisian wall decor.
Blend in inherited family paintings, beautiful photography, contemporary artworks, and travel memorabilia to create a distinctively unique home interior that showcases your personality.
Decorate with Parisian Home Accessories
No Parisian decor style is complete without the right French home accessories. For the Parisian high fashion obsessed, a Chanel, Dior, or Louis-Vuitton coffee table book is a must-have on their list.
As for your dining space, bring in some French porcelain from Sèvres, Vincennes, Saint-Cloud in the West of Paris, or Chantilly. If you are lucky enough, you can find some rare French porcelain pieces in antiques shops. Otherwise for many Parisians, these are part of their family heirlooms.
For a more modern look, opt for Baccarat crystal tableware, sculptures, vases, or decorative objects to elevate your home spaces.
In the kitchen and laundry room, “Savon de Marseille” will be a great addition to your decorative accessories and cleaning essentials.
When it comes down to soft furnishings, embrace cohesive eclecticism. Layering different textures, materials and accessories is the way to go to create a unique style that brings you joy.
Think about the final look you are seeking to achieve for each room, and let spontaneity guide you in the process. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way! It is part of the journey.
Don’t Forget to Bring the Outdoor Inside
Parisian apartments’ wrought iron balconies are generally well decorated with greenery and flowers all year round, even in the colder months.
Many Parisians also like to keep a few large green plants and flowers in their apartments that they change with the seasons. Some are more creative and prefer to decorate their accent walls with fabulous wallpapers showcasing greenery, flowers and all sorts of plants as a way to bring the outdoors in.
With work-from-home having become a long-term reality for many of us, think about adding a few plants and fresh bouquet of flowers in your home regularly to enhance your wellbeing. If you can’t keep fresh plants alive, why not give dried flowers and pampas grass a go to elevate your space? They are low-maintenance and will last much longer than fresh greenery.
If neither option appeals to you, get a fabulous peel-and-stick nature inspired wallpaper that ties in with your home decor and try it out in one of your rooms to see how it works for your home. You can still swap the wallpaper later if you fancy a new room makeover.