The French just “get it.” From their effortless fashion to their sensible diets, they make stylish living look easy. And you’d better believe they have it on lock when it comes to decorating their homes. Since there is so much history in French homes, they’ve managed to come up with the perfect mix of old and new, offsetting traditional design with modern pieces, and always keeping the space very stylish. For the French, decorating is all about breaking the rules to create a space that’s unique and sophisticated, but still inviting. Here are 14 tips for successfully copying a French interior and adding that certain je ne sais quoi to your space.
1. Show Off Your Features: Most apartments and homes in Paris are already historical treasures and have some gorgeous architectural elements like molded ceilings and carved detailing. While most of our homes are much more modern and not graced with such history, if you are lucky enough to have some great architectural bones, celebrate them. If not, try faking it by painting decorative details on the doors. (via Lonny)
2. Get Creative With Closets: Unlike American homes, French homes rarely have built-in closet space, meaning they have to get creative with places to store their perfect wardrobes. You’ll often find an armoire in the bedroom. If you’re living in a small space or just want to add extra storage to your home, add one to your bedroom to store linens and towels. (via Who What Wear)
3. Perfectly Undone: Do you feel like your home is never quite finished? Like there is something you’re always working on? Then you’re already well on your way to decorating like the French. A French home is never over-dressed, and there’s always an element of feeling lived-in, whether it’s a wrinkled linen duvet cover or a classic portrait with chipped paint. (via Inside Out)
4. One Grand Focal Point: Obviously, the whole space can’t look undone, or your home will start to feel a bit chaotic. In contrast to those casual decor bits, French homes also embrace a dash of luxury, like dramatic drapes that puddle onto the floor, a massive gilded mirror or some other glamorous accent that really elevates the space. (via Vogue)
5. Add Some Sparkle: Channel Marie Antoinette and add some glitz with a shimmery chandelier. But don’t go out and buy a shiny new one; if you really want to get the French look, the older the piece looks, the better. You want your fixture to look original, like maybe you just happened upon it at an antique market in Paris. (via Inside Out)
6. Tend to the Bathroom: Since the French are masters of proper relaxing, they know the power of a good bath at the end of a long day. Do what you can with your bathroom to make it a mini spa. While a classic claw foot tub may not be in your budget at the moment, even the tiniest of bathrooms can get a French makeover with a mini vanity, some toile wallpaper and marble tiling. (via Inside Out)
7. Stick to the Neutrals: Most French homes don’t usually feature a lot of bright colors and bold accent walls. By focusing on texture and architecture, they tend to stick to chalky and subdued neutral hues like pale mint, sand, linen and grays. You can still add pops of color, but choose carefully to avoid overwhelming the calm of the room. (via Ida Lindhag)
8. Have Fun in the Kitchen: The French are famous for their amazing cooking, so why would their kitchens be bland and dull? All-white kitchens might be trending, but the French aren’t afraid to buck the trend and go bold in the kitchen with bright blues accented by textured tiles and classic French dishware. (via Domino)
9. Art Is What You Love: The art you hang on the wall doesn’t have to be fine art. It can be a collage of family photos, a funky piece of sculpture or even an everyday object with graphic appeal. Your walls should be a reflection of your personality and should be what you love, not what you think you “should” be hanging. (via Domino)
10. Bring the Garden Inside: We’re not just talking about plants here. (Although the French do have their fair share of indoor plants.) If you have some great garden furniture, why hide it in the garage when summer is over? A bistro table or wicker lounge chair in a formal setting like the living room is a unique accent that looks surprisingly at home with the rest of the room’s decor. Also, a bouquet of fresh flowers is an absolute must for any French-inspired home. (via The Kitchn)
11. Raise a Glass: Instead of keeping your fine dishware and china behind cabinets, leave it out in the open for an extra bit of glamour. The reflection of glass adds sparkle to the room and hints that you might just decide to celebrate Wednesday with a glass of Champagne. (via Lonny)
12. Make a Statement: The French do not believe that everything needs to coordinate and match. Choose a statement piece you love, like a velvet couch, and then build the room around it with more subtle elements. You want to showcase your personality and have fun in your home, but still keep the soft sophistication the French are famous for. Stripes are just about as French-chic as you can get and make for a fun look in the bedroom. (via Decor Pad)
13. Bid Adieu to Formal Dining: Smaller French homes rarely have a formal dining room, but they turn that into a positive feature by bringing the dining into the kitchen. Put a table in the kitchen instead of an island and use it as a work surface when needed, and then as a casual option for intimate entertaining. A kitchen table adds warmth to the room and is ideal for getting the family together at mealtime. (via My Domaine)
14. Don’t Commit to One Style: French homes don’t bother sticking to one style or theme throughout the space. Instead of staying historically accurate to one era, the French borrow favorite pieces from all different time periods when they are decorating their home. Combine modern art with an ornate fireplace or traditional wood furniture with an unexpected wall color. (via Glo)
What are your favorite aspects of French decor? Talk to us in the comments below!