The French are synonymous with style—we all want to dress like them—and when it comes to interiors, they’ve mastered that classic and contemporary mix to a T. So what’s the secret to decorating like a French girl? How do they always get it so right? Perhaps the key to achieving that effortless Parisian style is a little nonchalance. Famed French interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot told Design & Trend that while he’s “confident about his juxtapositions,” he’s “not afraid of being wrong,” and when it comes to the interior mix, he “doesn’t have a complex about quality or provenance”; he can use “anything from anywhere.” Whether it’s the refined classical interiors of Robert Couturier you admire or the sleek and sophisticated spaces of Joseph Dirand, scroll down for a few styling secrets to get the chic Parisian look in your home.
An uncomplicated color palette will bring balance to your space with a hint of intrigue. Pair complementary colors that sit opposite the color wheel, because they’ll naturally work well together without clashing. But in the words of French interior designer Robert Couturier, a simple palette is best because it’s easy to live with. “It’s easygoing, not complicated, and therefore I think it makes life easier,” he told House Beautiful. “You don’t need to think too much about it. You need to walk into a house and understand it immediately—that creates calm.”
France is steeped in history. From the architecture to the museums, a stroll through the streets of the iconic capital of Paris will transport you back in time, and the French love to bring this sense of history inside. It’s quintessentially French to mix modernism with provenance—a parquet floor or gilded bronze hardware with antique furniture. French-Moroccan artist Ramdane Touhami’s Paris penthouse is a prime example of this, featuring radical posters from the 1960s alongside an armchair that belonged to an aristocratic ancestor.
To design a truly chic interior that stands the test of time—and is resilient amid trends—create a balance between Old World elegance and contemporary design. Renowned international architect and French interior designer Robert Couturier mastered the art of fusing eras; a Louis XVI commode would blend seamlessly with a 1960s lamp. In his book Designing Paradises, Robert stresses the “importance of how a home should stimulate the five senses,” from the tactile element of textured upholstery to the “visual presentation of objects.”
The French love to bring an element of fun into the home with artwork. Large abstract paintings, black-and-white photography, sketches, or children’s illustrations will balance out the home’s serious elements—history, architecture, and furniture. Famed French designer Robert Couturier told So Haute that “the presence of art really completes a home,” and we couldn’t agree more.
Paris is famous for its flea markets, which brim with décor, furniture, paintings, jewelry, sculptures, lights, mirrors, antiques, silverware, bric-a-brac, and pretty things. These hidden gems are perfect for display in your home. Layering these throughout your home adds a sentimental touch and visual interest.
Achieving a truly French space is all in the mix and blending furniture with art objects in surprising ways. French interior star Jacques Grange has mastered this aesthetic. The simple philosophy behind his opulent rooms is to combine “something very rough with something very refined” to “add attitude and warmth.” By grouping furniture arrangements and art objects of various textures in surprising ways, you create intrigue and diversity. “I love when you’re in people’s rooms, but you don’t feel the rules,” he told Curbed.
It’s little wonder the homes of Paris, the most romantic city in the world, evoke a fairy-tale charm, too. Embrace the amorous aesthetic with the quintessential antique gilded bronze furniture and hardware. Add some blush pieces into the mix and you’ve got your very own Marie Antoinette–inspired appartement.
What do you love most about French interior design?