From clothes through food to architecture – France is the world capital of good taste. Every fashion aficionado knows what ‘le chic parisien’ and ‘haute couture’ stand for just as every gourmet has at least once tried a ‘Lièvre à la Royale’. When you think about décor, the French have their own brilliant recipe for that as well. Certainly, the magnificent post-Napoleonic spaces in which they often operate make for quite a setting. Yet even without the airiness and glamor of the Empire style, one should still consider taking some advice from the French on the matter of interior design. They really know how to achieve timeless elegance in an effortless, almost nonchalant way.
The Parisian style abode becomes authentic only when it is filled with objects with a soul. Antique tableware or a wooden grandmother’s sideboard will instantly bestow some character upon your home, not to mention the sentimental value.
In addition, you cannot forget about quality – a French apartment furnished with pieces from the chain store will never look ‘beau‘. Vintage furniture, in addition to their uniqueness, usually are outstandingly durable. After all, they were created in the times when craft went hand in hand with art and artisans showed nothing but refine workmanship.
Must Have – Golden Mirror
If there is one thing that can’t be missing in a French home, it’s a gilded mirror. The tradition for ornamental frames derives from trumeau mirrors which were set into wood paneling that towered over fireplaces in historic homes. Let’s not forget about the opulent Louis Philippe 19th-century mirrors, presently the most frequently chosen by Parisian decorators. Regardless of what kind you choose, it must have a golden frame. If you’re not fond of heavy, embellished frames, think about the famous Sunburst model – it will provide the desired effect while remaining quite versatile.
Although the architecture of Parisian spaces is usually historic, inside you’ll always find contemporary art pieces. The French have always been notable for their involvement in and appreciation of ‘Art Moderne.’ When you think of France, the association with artists pops up pretty quickly. No wonder then, a proper French-style apartment must have at least one work of art.
It is worth experimenting with, for example, an abstraction from a street artist or student of fine arts. Why? Well, this kind of painting will probably be of considerable quality while not forcing you to splurge. Besides, in a few years, it may turn out to be a good investment into a freshly discovered prodigy.
Again, we return to the subject of quality, which at first glance best shows in textiles. A velvet sofa in a ‘jewel’ tone (like a deep shade of sapphire or emerald) is a must have for every Parisian and one of the trendiest props of the recent seasons. Invest in textiles such as curtains, bedding and area rug in the living room.
We especially recommend vintage rugs, white Moroccan Beni Ourains in particular. Their neutral palette of colors and delicate, geometric patterns perfectly complement elegant interiors.
In order not to change your home into a second Versailles (in that bad, overwhelming sense), it is worth relieving antiques and rich decorations with something modern and light in form. Contemporary glass lamps or a minimalist coffee table are perfect to break the ‘statuesque’ character of a home. The French are masters in combining tradition and modernity – whether in the world of design, fashion or art.