Americans have long looked to Paris for style notes, and 2022 is shaping up to be the year we’re looking across the pond for home decor inspiration, specifically to—the iconic Parisian apartment.
What’s the appeal, you say, beyond the fact that the French tend to call the shots in fashion? Well, here’s one take: travel restrictions may play a part. We long to explore far flung places but have been blocked from doing so in recent times, so we feed our wanderlust with the look of other places.
And then, too, there is something in the way the French effortlessly blend the traditional and comfortable (ah, comfort! We’re needing some!) with contemporary looks (ooh, modern. We like.)
So, are you weary of cookie cutter interiors? Maybe feeling the pull of a storied life abroad? You came to the right place! We have some tips for you on how to get a Parisian look with just a few key purchases. Read on!
1. Gold mirror
You may not have the requisite antique marble fireplace that is standard in a Paris apartment, but you must have one or more ornate gold mirrors to begin to get the Parisian look.
In addition, lucky you if you have picture frame molding in your room, because it, too, is quintessential Parisian. If you live in a 1980’s or 90’s house, you may have this decorative molding treatment on medium to dark wood paneling. Simply have the room painted white! Or if you have plain walls, you can certainly DIY this look, or bring in a finish carpenter to add it for you. At the very least, paint your room a soft white. White walls form a blank canvas for the easy elegance that is Parisian style.
2. Wood parquet floors–or a Persian rug
Parquet floors (that is, wood floors laid in any of several herringbone patterns) are typical of old Paris apartments. But unless you have a cool vintage house with parquet or are currently building and can choose this style, you probably don’t have these floors. Ne t’inquiete pas–don’t worry! The second option for your flooring is a great Persian-style rug with a timeworn or distressed finish. (See our rug samples at The Mint Julep–we can special order a myriad of styles for you!)
And if you still would like to work in parquet somewhere, bring in a parquet-top table to set on your Persian rug.
We haven’t seen a venerable French apartment yet that didn’t have a vintage chandelier, especially of the crystal variety. If you’re going for Parisian style, MUST. HAVE. CHANDELIER. Besides the historic look of this type of fixture, a chandelier provides diffuse lighting that fits with the softly lit feel of a Paris apartment.
Vintage and vintage-look table lamps also give that soft glowing illumination so typical of Paris homes.
4. Vintage and classic furniture and art
In case you were distracted by your cute classmate during History and weren’t paying attention, France has been a country a lot longer than America has. And the French aren’t inclined to a “disposable” mindset, either. Result of these two factors: their furnishings and objets d’art have been around for a really long time. Parisian decor is a seemingly effortless blend of old and new (more about new in a minute). The use of antiques in American decor is certainly gaining ground, but we can’t begin to compare to the French when it comes to incorporating very old pieces into modern-day interiors.
If you haven’t begun collecting vintage and antique pieces for your interiors, you can approximate the look with classic lines of new furniture. Shop our collections in store and online at The Mint Julep.
5. Comfortable fabrics
The French place a premium on a comfortable look and feel, so soft fabrics such as linen and velvet are key to upholstery, slipcovers and bedding. If you’re going for Parisian style, be sure to work in a velvet sofa, chair, or ottoman. And then spy out, say, some vintage linen -either genuinely timeworn, or with that appearance- for upholstery, slipcovers, and duvets.
6. A touch of–modern!
Now, about the “new” part of the “mix of old and new”. Parisian decor doesn’t draw from one period or style only. Parisians delight in a touch of je ne sais quoi, so expect to find in a Paris apartment bold contemporary art, furniture or accessories right alongside venerable antiques.
Note: nothing Parisian is ever matchy-matchy, and the effect is always unstaged and unfussy.
7. A collected-over-time appearance
One thing you can definitely say about Parisian spaces is that they look personal and lived-in, and reflect the life and tastes of the occupants. In a Paris apartment, you’ll find books and more books, framed photos, French candles, lots of flowers (fresh and dried), and accessories and serveware from mixed decades (or centuries).
A Parisian look at home is one that evolves from your life.
How best to get the Parisian look? You can employ all the elements we’ve noted, but it’s still something of a conundrum: you have to work at giving your interiors an unstudied air! We might say “deliberately not too deliberate”. Which actually frees you up to create your personal spaces with items old and new to suit yourself–just like the French do.