It's no secret that the French know how to live a beautifully curated and effortlessly chic life. We consistently look to the region for inspiration and tips, regarding every topic from how to decorate like French Designers and what pieces to buy for interior spaces.
So, naturally, when we were brainstorming new interior layout ideas, Betsy Kasha—the principal designer of Parisian real estate and design firm A+B Kasha—was the first person who came to mind. She's an expert when it comes to French interior design, and she had a lot to say about French interior layouts. According to her, it's all about comfort, ignoring formulas, and freely mixing styles.
Keep reading to learn a few ideas from Kasha about how to bring a variety of French-inspired design elements into every room in your home.
Design for Comfort
Comfort is key when it comes to designing French interior layouts, Kasha explains, and this white living room located in an apartment in the 6th arrondissement of Paris is a prime example of this sensibility. "The French use their living and dining rooms all the time, especially for entertaining, as opposed to Americans who generally enjoy entertaining in their kitchens and great rooms," the designer points out.
Because of this deep-rooted tradition of entertaining, "French living rooms are designed to comfortable and convivial," Kasha says. This space features two large sofas creating room to sit and relax, while the room also offers enough open space to walk around and mingle.
Embrace Small Spaces
According to Kasha, kitchens found in Parisian apartments tend to be much smaller than those found in American homes. "[They] are traditionally small because they were designed for staff only," she explains. This is also related to the idea that the French entertain in their living and dining spaces, rather than in their kitchens, as is customary in America. Because of this, the layout must accommodate the smaller square footage.
In this Parisian apartment, a galley kitchen is just wide enough for a breakfast nook furnished with a small round table. Although the overall space is rather narrow, long clean counters and plenty of cabinetry allows for storage and room to cook.
Incorporate Bedroom Seating
This French bedroom features striking herringbone hardwood floors, neutral walls, and a large window on the far side of the space. A sofa sits at the foot of the bed in order to create a cozy sitting area, Kasha notes. This is a common interior layout for a Parisian bedroom. Get the look by placing a loveseat at the foot of your bed if space allows.
If you'd like to incorporate the French bedroom seating look in your space but don't have enough room for a sofa, opt instead for a comfortable upholstered bench at the foot of the bed.
Skip the Sofa
While the sofa is often emphasized as the most important feature in American living rooms, Kasha explains that this isn't the case in France. "A comfortable living room can be achieved as easily without a sofa as with one," the designer says. "Our French cousins instinctively understand this," she continues.
This is evidenced in this rustic French living room located in the Normandy countryside, which features two identical, large leather armchairs, an additional accent chair, and an open interior layout that leads into a small dining space.
Focus on the Dining Room
As Kasha mentioned, the Parisian kitchen space is often a small one. However, this somewhat cramped working kitchen opens up to a formal dining room, which is where the real entertaining takes place. "Traditionally, a French dinner party begins in the living room, where the host serves Champagne and a small aperitif such as nuts, olives, or canapés," the French designer notes.
"Dinner is then announced and guests will sit down at a table for a multi-course meal ending with dessert," she continues. According to Kasha, while the working kitchen is not typically the center of attention, the dining room often is—explaining why this is a common French layout.
Add Storage Wherever Possible
While many American homes and apartments feature large primary suites, small bedrooms are quite common in the Parisian apartments Kasha designs. This space, for instance, features a bed surrounded by closets. According to Kasha, this is a traditional French bedroom design element.
The term "Primary Suite" is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home with an en suite bath, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term "Master." Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
If you're working with a small space, you might consider installing extra closets around the bed for additional storage and that quintessentially French look. Additional built-in shelving behind the bed doubles as a headboard and surface space for décor and other small items.
Stow Away a Closet Bar
In this French living room, you can see a luxurious marble fireplace topped with a variety of small décor items, as well as an impressive mirror to add depth and dimension to the space. This look feels familiar to distinctly French spaces, but according to Kasha, it's the elegant closet bar that undeniably places this room in Paris.
A common feature of the Parisian living room, the stocked bar is subtly stowed away behind tall wooden doors that match the rest of the room's décor. If you don't have cabinetry installed in your living room, try designing a tucked-away bar inside a large chest of drawers that can double as an extra storage solution.
Lean Your Artwork
Located in a Parisian apartment in a 17th-century building near the Place St. Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement, this living room is brimming with French interior design features, including a distinctly French layout. Not one, but two, antique French chandeliers hang from the ceiling above contemporary art and furniture.
The room features a thin console table in order to allow the piece of art to casually lean against the wall. Additionally, the focus of the space isn't solely on the sofa thanks to more accent chairs that provide extra seating on top of a colorful rug.
Renters, rejoice: Leaning your artwork atop thin tables is also a great way to style your favorite pieces without making permanent holes in the walls.
Mix and Match Design Styles
"Although the French tend to be formulaic in their dining and entertaining habits, they are less structured with the interiors," Kasha indicates. This involves the somewhat eclectic mixture of styles, periods, and colors, which is displayed in this elegant dining room from an apartment in the St. Germain des Prés neighborhood of Paris.
The space features a mid-century modern round table, surrounded by wooden chairs with green cushions and a sprinkling of antique objects. The more modern elements contrast with the classic oak-paneled walls, crown molding on the ceiling, and Parquet de Versailles floors. "The result is charming and personal," according to Kasha.