How many of us would wish to achieve the unique Parisian style in urban interiors? We might long for that deliberate imperfection and artistic flair so specific to Parisian homes. The style is often eclectic, seems effortless and creative expression is at the heart of it. It is both nostalgic and contemporary and is unshakable when in the face of changing, fleeting trends.
But do not let this apparent “effortlessness” fool you. Parisian style is not a coincidence, it is, on the contrary, a carefully crafted concept. With this post, I have put together a creative aid that highlights insights and features inherent to a typical Parisian interior, as capturing its essence can be intimidating and sometimes quite unattainable.
First and foremost, Paris style starts with a deeply-creative mindset, drawing inspiration from history and heritage combined with homeowners’ tastes and talents. The style is by no means rigid and no two homes will look the same. I see it as the ultimate creative expression and natural extension of one’s personality and individuality. The interior becomes an ever-evolving stage that pays tribute to the homeowner, art, history, skilled craftsmanship and noble materials.
Here is a quote from the book “Paris Style, Ed. Taschen” and it (to my mind) perfectly describes what makes Parisian interiors unique: “ It had rained all night and now the air was as clear as it usually was only in the mountains. The roofs of Paris were shimmering like liquid mercury, the chimney looks as if something had piled up flower pots of different sizes and powdered them with chalk. The golden cupola of the Invalide Dome shone like a second sun. What made this view unforgettable was the fact that you stood at one of these typical windows in Paris, whose panes are divided by metal mullions, here and there permitting a draught and giving every room the feel of a studio or a theatre. These windows, the rather dry air, a half-finished painting on an easel, a precious cloth on an antique chaise longue, furniture or colors that anywhere else would appear luxurious or extravagant are the details that turn Parisian rooms into coulisses.
“I see it as the ultimate creative expression and natural extension of one’s personality and individuality. The interior becomes an ever-evolving stage that pays tribute to the homeowner, art, history, skilled craftsmanship and noble materials”
1 – Homage to history: Properties blessed with original historic characteristics like wall moldings, original tiles, hard floors or wooden doors, set the perfect backdrop for Parisian interiors. While not totally necessary, these iconic features can be re-created. Visiting antique shops to bargain-hunt and collect one-of-a kind pieces is another aspect of how history can be honored. The “old” stamp brings a timeless charm that enhances the new.
2- The art of mix and match: Mix and match scenarios are limitless and come down to personal taste and preference: vintage with modern, luxurious with budget-friendly or elaborate with sober. Anything goes as long as an eclectic, anti-conventional style is applied with finesse and attention to detail following cohesive color schemes.
3 – Design themes driven by storytelling: Stories are told through various mediums: i.e reclaimed furniture pieces, vintage mirrors, aquarelle paintings, ethnic patterns, retro touches, eco-friendly lighting, personal photographs or books and illustrations. I personally, see it as an artist’s studio full of surprises and rare finds.
4- Culture, culture and more culture: Culture adds soul to homes. Love of literature, music, cinema and the arts is seen throughout the place: i.e books are decorative when displayed on restored shelves or on the floor, record decks and vinyl records can be placed on sideboards and side tables, iconic movie and ad posters – illustrations are preferred – and paintings dress bare walls while sculptures are given prime locations.
5- Celebration of craftsmanship and authenticity: In France, skilled artisans are highly valued with their work appreciated and sought after. From fine glasswork, elegant porcelaine, modern clay items, period wallpaper design and sculpted wood, to woven wool, finding favorite items becomes a delightful journey. Recommended is to extend the collections of handmade items to crafts of the world as it is considered a testament to a person who is well-travelled and open to foreign cultures. The use of noble materials like marble, wood and metals adds an additional layer of genuine authenticity.
6- Contemporary furniture for modern vibes: A bold approach is needed and actually encouraged when selecting and pairing pieces of furniture. Matchy-matchy is to be avoided. But let’s remember a rule that can ease this process: while styles are contrasted, color schemes remain cohesive. Complementing an industrial dining table with bistrot style chairs or pairing a Louis XV style chair with a mid-century side table, can make interiors cozy with plenty of character.
7- Retro touches for a timeless appeal: The 50s, 60s and 70s are a great source of inspiration. Elements like retro kitchen appliances, vintage globes, gossip benches, sideboards, lamps, or desks never go out of style.
8 – A pop of color to brighten spaces: Parisians are not shy of using color to highlight their carefully-selected finds and to enhance the overall design theme.
I hope that, by writing this post, I have shed some light on Parisian homes best kept secrets. If you wish to see more beautifully photographed Parisian properties, I invite you to check two relevant books: “Sous les Toits de Paris” and “Creative Paris“. They are available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats.