The Real Reason We All Want to Decorate Like Parisians, According to Experts

Parisian style living room with ornate mantle and neutral details.

Courtesy of Shelby Vanhoy

Parisian décor: It’s all over our Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards, and it pops up far too often in our daydreams. There’s just something about a grand marble fireplace, an oversized ornate mirror, and oh-so-stunning wall moldings that never gets old.

“In Western society, Paris and its culture has always had an incredibly elevated status, so it makes perfect sense that we would whole-heartedly embrace its traditional interior aesthetic as well,” designer Ines Mazzotta of Kelly Hopter Interiors states. 

In Western society, Paris and its culture has always had an incredibly elevated status, so it makes perfect sense that we would whole-heartedly embrace its traditional interior aesthetic as well.

Thus, we’re certainly not alone in our longtime obsession with spaces from—or that appear like they belong in—the City of Light. And good news if you’ve designed your own space to look très chic: you’ve chosen a timeless style. 

“The classic appeal of Parisian design is less of a trend and more of an evergreen aesthetic,” designer Ariel Okin notes. “French classicism has been around since the 1600s. The look’s heavy emphasis on beautiful architectural details, like intricate molding, combined with a mix of vintage and modern pieces and touches of luxe, creates a sleek yet inviting space that is eternally stylish.” 

The classic appeal of Parisian design is less of a trend and more of an evergreen aesthetic.

Looking to add a French touch to your space but unsure where to begin? Upon relocating to New York City from North Carolina last year, Shelby Vanhoy, blogger of Pretty in the Pines, was quick to incorporate quintessential Parisian elements into her rental apartment.

“As soon as I moved to our neighborhood in Manhattan last year, I was immediately drawn to the historic architectural details that reminded me of scenes you’d see in Paris,” Vanhoy reflects. She purchased a faux fireplace surround online and put her DIY skills to use by adding molding-like detail to her unit’s walls with the help of removable mounting tape. “I think the Parisian design trend in homes is especially appealing right now because it's minimal but makes such an elegant statement while being fairly attainable,” she says.

White Parisian sitting area.

Dreamy Whites

Chelsey Brown, an author and blogger who also adores the Parisian aesthetic, adds, “The current trend is mixing Parisian with post-modern, which is my personal favorite, and the theme of my own home. Eighties vibes and ornate accents can create the dreamiest space.”

And it’s easy to introduce such a look into your own space in just a few simple steps. “Try pairing a modern, boucle sofa with a vintage coffee table and applying molding to your walls,” Brown says. “The beauty of Parisian style is that you can mix and match without the space feeling overwhelming. As long as you incorporate pieces you love into your home, it will all come together.” 

Paint will also work wonders in adding a Parisian glow. “Whether it's a bright white, a creamy warm neutral color, or a bold saturated color, the tone on tone look is so classic and is gaining popularity in today's designs,” designer Paige Kontrafouris says.

Reflecting on the style as a whole, she adds, “With everyone spending a lot of 2020 at home and starting off 2021 the same way, we really all got the opportunity to see things in our home we didn’t love and were able to spend time working on the ‘feeling’ we wanted our home to convey. European interiors always convey a strong mood and feeling that can be applied to any design style, and that is becoming a strong inspiration as we all work to make our homes a sanctuary.” 

Adds Mazzotta, “We tend to turn to things that bring comfort and familiarity during times of uncertainty and turmoil. Yes, Parisian apartments are grand and sophisticated, but they are also traditional and rooted in history and a sense of permanence. We crave such things during uncertain times.”

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