20 French Design and Décor Ideas That Are Effortlessly Elegant

french decor

York Wallcovering

Blame it on our aching desire to travel, but we're officially ready to make our home look like somewhere far, far away. So, if you want to incorporate some wanderlust into your space, where better to be inspired by than France? Known for its effortless elegance and pops of modernity, French décor is one of those design styles that can seamlessly transcend time and trends.

"French-inspired design combines European elegance balanced by the relaxed way we live today," explains designer Chad Graci.

Meet the Expert

Chad Graci is a New Orleans-based designer, who says that French décor is part of his firm's DNA. Graci has been featured in a handful of publications like Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor.

Want to bring that je nais se quois into your space? We're breaking down 20 genius ways to do so. Whether you want to draw inspiration from the Palace of Versailles or those cool Parisian girls, one thing's for sure: The ideas seen here are ouai cool.

What Is French Décor?

French interiors can be defined by elegant, traditional materials and fabrics paired with chic and clean touches. There is an emphasis on blending the old with the new, with vintage and antique touches often appearing in French spaces. Expect to find neutral color palettes, thoughtful approaches to texture, raw materials, and the use of furniture from different eras.

01 of 20

Get Fancy With Flooring

french decor

Studio KT

If you want to turn your home into a French oasis, ditch the wall-to-wall carpet. Sure, the flooring style might be cozy on your feet and great for sound-proofing, but French decor is all about simplicity. More times than not, French abodes are filled with eye-catching tiles in the foyer and gorgeous, hardwood floors throughout. This space from Kara Thomas of Studio KT masters the look.

02 of 20

Give Your Space the Tufted Treatment

french decor

MWilcox Design

Though tufted furniture technically rose to design fame during England's Victorian era, the style is often associated with the opulence seen with the French aristocracy. So, why not give your space the royal treatment with a few, tufted pieces? If you want to breathe a new life into your furniture, consider finding tufted pieces in fun, unexpected colors, as designer Monica Wilcox did here.

03 of 20

Opt for Old-Fashioned Opulence

french decor

House Nine

Why stop with tufted furniture when you can pick up other pieces inspired by the king of glam himself, Louis XV? Known for gilded chairs and curved, wooden frames, this design style epitomizes old-school French décor.

That said, Louis XV furniture can get a little pricey. If you want to keep costs down, look for pieces that pay homage to the period. The bed seen in this space by House Nine bridges the gap between opulence and affordability.

04 of 20

Add a Statement Light

french decor

Jenn Pablo

When you think about statement lighting in French décor, you might instantly envision an opulent (and oh-so shiny) chandelier. And, rightfully so—the structure has been a fixture in French décor for centuries.

But, lately? A lot of cool Parisians are shaking things up with sleek silhouettes. From semi-flush structures to a bulbous feature, as seen in this room from Jenn Pablo, French décor is ushering in a new era of statement lights.

05 of 20

Revive Your Woodwork

french decor ideas

Forbes + Masters

More times than not, French homes have walls filled with gorgeous woodworking and wainscoting. But, just because those design features might harken back to yesteryear doesn't mean they have to be boring. If you want to revive your woodwork, splash it in an unapologetically bold hue. We love how the team at Forbes & Masters used this bright cobalt.

06 of 20

Go Big With Your Bed

french decor

Design: House of Jade Interiors; Photo: Kate Osborne.

If you ask us, there's something about a big, canopy bed that always reminds us of Marie Antoinette. We imagine she'd be eating her cake in this pretty room by House of Jade Interiors. That said, there's a fine line between a well-appointed canopy and one that veers into princess territory. To keep your space modern and sophisticated, opt for a canopy with a sleek, simple silhouette.

07 of 20

Mix and Match

french decor

Design; Graci Interiors; Photo: Sara Essex Bradley

Want to infuse the French spirit into your home? It's all about mixing and matching. "French-inspired design combines European elegance balanced by the relaxed way we live today," New Orleans-based designer Chad Graci says, who says adding a French 'twist' is in his firm's DNA. 

"I mix antiques, vintage and rustic elements with more modern forms like this sofa to create rooms that function," he says. "The upholstery is performance fabric, and nothing is overly precious—everything is meant to be used and enjoyed."

08 of 20

Get Classy With Your Art

french decor

Becca Interiors

Ready for some good news? You don't have to spend a small fortune on French-ifying your home. For high-impact pieces that won't break the bank, fill your gallery wall with oil-painted portraits, landscapes, and fruit spreads. The storied medium will give your space a whiff of the old-world charm French décor always exudes.

Want to go the extra mile? Take a cue from design firm Becca Interiors, which enclosed a beautiful painting in a gilded frame.

09 of 20

Make a Mirrored Marvel

french decor

Ashley Montgomery

Already picked out all of your art? Don't sweat it, you can always add a big, antique mirror to the mix. We love how designer Ashley Montgomery incorporated this vintage option into an otherwise modern living area.

10 of 20

Go Low

french decor

Ashley Montgomery

Oftentimes, French homes have ultra-high ceilings that single-handedly transform each room into a light, airy oasis. But, unless you're building a home from scratch or undergoing a big renovation, raising your ceilings is easier said than done. Instead, spring for low-slung furniture, which will create the illusion of tall ceilings. Ashley Montgomery masters the look in this living room above.

11 of 20

Decorate With Drapes

french decor

Tom Stringer

Another way to create the illusion of a tall ceiling? Go big with your drapes. The colorful set Tom Stringer used here is fancy, but not in-your-face. And if you want to take your curtains to the next level, hang them a few inches about the window. This simple trick will elongate your space.

12 of 20

Try Toile

french decor

York Wallcovering

Want to cover your bedroom or powder room in a whimsical, French-friendly pattern? You can't go wrong toile. The charming repeat was first produced in the mid-1700s by Francis Nixon—and since become a global phenomenon.

Best of all? There's no one way to do toile. While this option from York Wallcovering pays tribute to the traditional repeat, designer Sheila Bridges and Flavor Paper's Jon Sherman offer modern iterations.

13 of 20

Try a Chic Clawfoot Tub

french decor

Erin Williamson Design

Imagine: you're vacationing at a chateau in Provence. Every morning, you pour yourself a café au lait and draw yourself a bath in that gorgeous, clawfoot tub. The dream, right?

While you might not be able to transport yourself to the French countryside in a snap, but you can recreate those idyllic vibes with a clawfoot soaking tub. Let this space from Erin Williamson Design show you how it's done.

14 of 20

Rework Your Whites

french decor

Stephanie Hoey Interiors

When it comes to French décor, less is more—especially when it comes to the color scheme. Though French spaces usually stick with a neutral color palette, these rooms are far from boring. To keep your room from feeling sterile, incorporate varying shades of white. Stephanie Hoey Interiors used a mix of ivories, creams, and a subtle blush.

15 of 20

Make a Marble Marvel

french decor

LAVA Interiors

French design isn't always defined by a sole piece of furniture or shade of paint. It's the feeling a space exudes. Whether you're strolling down the streets of Paris or hanging out by the Cote d'Azur, French style is all about effortless elegance. And, what better way to nail that vibe with a marble fireplace? While this upscale element might seem fancy, this room from LAVA Interiors pares down the look with wooden elements.

16 of 20

Experiment With Textures

french decor

Design: Yael Weiss Interiors; Photo: Sketch Forty Two

Don't let their sleek style fool you: French design enthusiasts love to make their spaces as comfortable as possible. If you want to up your home's cozy factor, experiment with different textiles. The way designer Yael Weiss juxtaposed a plush bouclé chair with a sleek marble end table is homey and haute in equal measure.

17 of 20

Effortless Chic Style

french design

Tyler Karu

If you don't want to invest in new furniture, you can double down on your home's cozy factor with a few, strategic styling moves. Take this room from Tyler Karu—not only does the gilded mirror feel downright French, but small touches like the scattering of notebooks and lazily draped blanket offers the perfect lived-in vibe. The result? A perfect mix of cozy and chic.

18 of 20

Wow With Wood

french decor

Jules Interiors

The city of love might be all about understated elegance, but the homes in the French countryside love to show off natural materials. Whether you're in the Burgundy region or closer to Normandy, you can expect these pads to be filled with raw, wooden accents. However, anyone who wants to modernize these rustic details will find a lot to love about this kitchen from Jules Interiors. Marble and wood in one space? C'est magnifique.

19 of 20

Create Contrast

french decor

Design: Blakely Interior Design; Photo: Andrea Pietrangeli

What's black, white, and chic all over? A well-appointed French home. The high-contrast combination exudes modernity and sophistication, two key characteristics of French design. That said, your high-contrast home doesn't have to be boring. Here, Blakely Interior Design spiced things up with an ornate-inspired mirror, and the neon paint makes this accent piece pop.

20 of 20

Lean Into the Quirks

french decor

JK Interior Living

More times than not, French homes consist of a little more than four, blank walls. Whether they're filled with charming shelves or a quirky alcove, these places are known for their rich history and charm, just like this beautiful space Julie Kantrowitz designed.

So, why not lean into the aspects that make your space unique? And, if you aren't blessed with gorgeous built-ins, you can always fake the look with a DIY project or IKEA structures.

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