They’re sophisticated! They’re chic! They never get fat! They’re the French, and they’re the unequivocal arbiters of style many of us have looked to for inspiration when it comes to fashion, food and all things cultured (including cheese). If hundreds of diet books and advice columns are any indication, we want to dress like them, eat like them and possess that certain je ne sais quoi just like them.
While we may never fully achieve that effortlessly cool, rumpled perfection that seems to be inborn in French style icons like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, we can live like them, infusing our spaces with Parisian-inspired decor. To that end, we’re showing you six ways to turn your humble abode into a Parisian pied-à-terre.
Louis XV Chair, $900
For the ultimate in French style, fill your home with a few pieces of Louis Quinze furniture. With carved wood frames and chinoiserie upholstery, these coveted antiques marry impeccable craftsmanship with ornate design, giving your home an authentically French feel.
To keep your home from looking like a museum, decorate like the French, teaming old with new or high with low. Pair Old World Rococo furniture with sleek, modern pieces for a decidedly eclectic aesthetic that feels utterly Parisian. We particularly love Philippe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost chairs, the French designer’s take on Louis XV seating, reimagined in translucent polycarbonate.
Versace Handmade Rug, $3,600
Contrast milky white walls, typical to a Parisian apartment, with lavish, heavy fabrics like dark and moody velvet or pastel brocades. Keeping walls neutral allows furnishings to take center stage, bringing focus to the texture, color and shape of the items that fill the room. Add warmth to your space with a blush Barocco rug or play up high ceilings and large windows with dramatic silk drapes.
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of a Young Male, $2,000; Cecil Beaton, James Dresses, $5,800
Show off your cultural intelligence with framed art pieces. Hang your favorites in a cluster to build an eclectic gallery wall with pieces in different sizes, media and artistic styles. Or for a laid-back, slightly undone feel, simply lean a larger piece against a wall. Complement a bohemian space with a graphite drawing or if you prefer something more refined, opt for a black and white photograph like Cecil Beaton’s famous snapshot of Vogue models wearing Charles James gowns in a French-style salon.
Saint-Louis Decanter, $695; Moser Pedestal Bowl, $875; Kartell Bourgie Lamp, $175
While your home may not have been built with intricate crown moulding or parquet floors, you can still infuse a sense of Versailles-level opulence with sophisticated gold accent pieces. An oversized gold-framed mirror over the mantel adds the right amount of drama, while an ordinary pedestal bowl feels special and glamorous in gilded crystal. For an even more lavish look, opt for Kartell’s 24-karat gold-coated Baroque-style Bourgie lamp.
Arte Italica Pewter Candelabra, $525; Lalique Duncan Atomizer, $395; Frette Tassel, $95
Make your living space feel more special with a few Marie Antoinette-worthy accessories. To add instant glamour without being flashy, tie up opulent window treatments with gold tassels, decorate a vanity with a ladylike atomizer or put the finishing touch on your mantlepiece with stately pewter candelabras.
Royal Crown Derby Place Settings, $645; Lidded Ceramic Vase, $75
Even the most cosmopolitan urbanite craves a country escape every now and then. Conjure dreams of weekends in Provence with bucolic toile du juoy, the 18th century pastoral motif. Toile porcelain, upholstery and textiles draw a sharp contrast to your more refined decor, adding a bit of rustic softness to your space.
Ready to turn your home into a Parisian escape? Shop our selection of chic home decor here.