How To Decorate Your Home Like A Parisian Apartment

Parisians have a reputation for effortless elegance and a knack for creating casually cool interiors. They certainly know how to decorate their apartments with a certain je ne sais quoi, building chic and sophisticated living spaces. While the stereotypical Parisian apartment might feature classic, 19th-century architectural elements like intricate moldings, tall windows that let in ample natural light, herringbone wood floors, and ornate fireplaces, Parisian interior design is much more about attitude than architecture. So don't sweat it if your home isn't hundreds of years old. According to The Spruce, French flair can be added to any living space by following a few simple interior design tips and adding small decorative touches. 

One of the golden rules of Parisian interior design is to make it look like you didn't try (even if you did). Not everything needs to be shiny and new but instead should feel like an eclectic collection of different eras and styles. Ideally, your home should tell a unique story while looking beautiful, nonchalant, timeless, and lived in. Here are some "French girl" cool tips to help you bring a touch of Paris to your home.

Display dried flowers around your home

Dried flowers are a staple in Parisian apartments. Whether arranged in a cool, vintage vase or simple water glass, they are an easy way to elevate your space and add some style. It's not surprising that dried flowers are the one thing you'll find in every Parisian's home, per Domino. Plus, they have no expiration date and require much less time and effort than plants, especially for those of us who don't have a green thumb. 

There are many ways to bring this trend into your home. Look for wildflowers like dried lavender, larkspur, and eucalyptus, and place them in cute vases around the house. Or, create your own beautiful dried arrangement by drying out a fresh bouquet of flowers. According to Reader's Digest, you can dry flowers with silica gel, pressing, or speeding up the dehydrating process with a microwave. The most common way to dry flowers is by letting them hang upside down in a dark space like the basement. Pampas grass, which is the fluffy, feather-like decoration that you've probably seen around Instagram, is a great way to add warmth and visual interest to a space. Style it by placing a few strands in an oversized glass vase or arrange it with other dried blooms against a dark wall to create striking contrast (per The Spruce).

Go for gold mirrors

Next time you find yourself walking through a flea market or perusing a thrift store aisle, be on the lookout for a gilded mirror. Once a status symbol for aristocrats, these ornate, gold mirrors add an instant dose of sophistication to any room, according to Apartment Therapy. Not to mention that they can make your living space feel bigger and brighter. Take, for example, model and creative director Leia Sfez's Parisian apartment showcased in Vogue Paris. The ornate mirror, which is placed in the living room, expands the visual area of the room and brightens up the space by reflecting light from the nearby window. This decorating tip is especially useful if you live in a smaller apartment. 

For bonus cool points, prop your mirror against a wall or let it lean on top of a fireplace mantle instead of hanging it. This undone look is the epitome of French style.

You can never have too many candles

According to Leonce Chenal, a  French blogger, the best way to make your home feel Parisian is by investing in a few scented candles and scattering them throughout every room. The French love the coziness and fresh aromas these decorative items provide, especially during colder months. 

One of the most well-known and respected Parisian candlemakers is Diptyque. In the world of candles, this brand is the cream of the crop. All of their candles are made manually, and each wick is straightened by hand to ensure it burns evenly. Some popular scents include Baies, which smells like fresh blackcurrant berries, and the romantic Feu de Bois, or Wood Fire blend (via Best Products). These luxurious scents will transport you to the City of Light with a strike of the match. Alternatively, you could go for the Cyrnos scent from Cire Trudon, the oldest candlemaker in France. According to Condé Nast Traveler, this candle perfectly captures the scent of a Parisian apartment.

Embrace contemporary artwork

As cliché as it may sound, the French love their art. They especially love decorating their homes with contemporary art since it creates a lovely juxtaposition against historic architectural details often found in Parisian apartments. This concept is exemplified in Lebanese influencer Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco's beautiful apartment, per Vogue Paris. Adding artwork to your living space is a great way to reflect your personal style and bring joy and personality to otherwise blank walls. Just like mirrors, it's common to leave art undone by propping it up against a wall.

As far as choosing art goes, the French tend to display pieces that inspire them (via Architectural Digest). Maybe it's photography from their travels or eye-catching work from their favorite artist. If you love Paris, why not bring a taste of the beautiful city to your home by displaying a painting of the Seine or a view of the Eiffel Tower on your walls?

Bring in as much natural light as possible with French-style windows

French-style windows don't just look chic — they also come with significant health benefits. According to Healthline, being exposed to more natural light causes better sleep, increased Vitamin D, and even reduced seasonal depression. Since French windows are designed to let in plenty of natural light, these romantic windows will make you feel better. Not to mention that more window space means better views.

Another important thing to note about French windows is that they are tall. Since they stretch from the floor to the ceiling, you can also walk through them, per Westbury Windows & Joinery. This can make your living space feel larger, no extra square footage required. However, there are some downsides to consider before adding French-style windows to your home. As Apartment Therapy notes, these windows do not have screens which can take some getting used to.

Give walls a fresh coat of white paint

If you thought white walls were bland, think again. The typical Parisian apartment is always painted white to let artwork and furnishings pop, according to The Chriselle Factor. Like a blank canvas, you can liven up white walls with bright art pieces and colorful accessories. Additionally, they also have the power to make living spaces feel cleaner and more spacious since they enhance natural light and brighten up dark corners. 

Contrary to popular belief, not all white paint is the same. To get the Parisian look in your home, you'll want to paint walls a creamy, warm shade of white with just a touch of pink. According to Apartment Therapy, this color will give your home a special glow, unlike colder blue whites or yellowy-green tones. While white paint is more susceptible to staining than darker shades, you can make it easier to wipe off smudge marks by using semi-gloss or gloss paint (via Remodelista).

Mix and match different styles and time periods

Part of what makes Parisian apartments so alluring is contrast. These homes are a perfect marriage of old and new, while furniture and decor balance an incredible variety of different styles, materials, and time periods, per Apartment Therapy. Elegant antiques and 19th-century architectural details often mingle with mid-century modern sofas, while thrift store finds look right at home next to stunning contemporary art (via Architectural Digest). No matter where you look, there is something interesting to capture your attention.

To nail this aesthetic, avoid purchasing your decorations and furniture items from one place (via The Spruce). Look online for unique antique pieces, or scour flea markets for decorations that express your individual style. Nothing should feel too feminine or masculine, too traditional or contemporary. If you live in a classic, 19th-century home, consider adding a modern twist to interiors with graphic wallpaper, unexpected art, or soft textures like velvet. If you want to ensure that rooms still look connected, select a few central colors to repeat throughout the living space (via Better Homes & Gardens). 

Dress up shelves with elegant vintage vases

Flowers are an essential part of Parisian apartment decor, just like the beautiful vessels that contain them. A shelf decorated with vintage vases, bottles, and glass radiates that cool, bohemian spirit found throughout many Parisian apartments. There are many ways to arrange and style vintage vases around your home. Some great areas to display vases are around a fireplace mantel, wall shelves, and side tables. You can place vases together in a collection of different colors and shapes or space them apart for a more minimalist feel, according to Leonce Chenal.

When selecting a vase, colorful, curvaceous ceramics are having a moment (via Rue Now). Look for matte pastels with rounded shapes or vibrant glassware to make a statement. According to Eye Swoon, the best places to find chic vintage vases are Etsy, antique stores, floral shops, and local yard sales. Whether you leave the vases empty or filled with a bouquet is entirely up to you.

Remember, books are not just for the coffee table

There is always a book somewhere in the typical Parisian home, whether stacked on a shelf, coffee table, or dusty corner. If you've wanted to let your impressive book collection shine, now is the time! France has a strong literary culture tracing back to the Middle Ages, per the University of Connecticut, so it's not surprising that this love for literature is reflected in Parisian home decor. Books are often not just placed on shelves but also displayed over fireplaces and other surfaces like beloved decorative objects. You can see this in action in actor Mathilde Warnier's apartment, via Vogue Paris.

According to My Domaine, the key to decorating with books like the French is avoiding over-staging and using books that you find meaningful. Arranging horizontal stacks of books next to vertical ones creates visual interest while displaying books without their jackets makes them look more appealing and organized.

Marble is your friend

To bring a little joie de vivre to your home, go for marble, marble, and more marble. According to HGTV, this natural material is a staple in Parisian apartments thanks to its effortless luxury. Marble is incredibly durable and ages extremely well, just like your favorite pair of blue jeans. However, it requires daily care and maintenance since it is a porous material, per The Spruce. Always wipe countertops and surfaces with a microfiber towel after use. You can also go for faux marble for a cheaper price tag, which looks just as good as the real deal.

If you aren't exactly sure how to incorporate marble into your home, think about how much of a commitment you want to make and your budget. It's popular to use marble for kitchen islands, around fireplaces, and floor-to-ceiling in bathrooms (via Homes & Gardens). Whether you go wild with countertops and backsplashes or add just a few decorative touches like a marble coffee table or art piece, marble is sure to add a luxurious feel to your living space. 

Invest in a statement armchair or sofa

One of the first things you'll probably notice when entering a Paris-style apartment is a statement armchair or sofa. French homes are more understated in furnishings, often preferring to let the artwork and architectural details take center stage. However, a bold, contemporary armchair perfectly contrasts its classic surroundings. According to Leonce Chenal, modern pieces like velvet or Danish mid-century armchairs are popular options. In French designer Sarah Poniatowski's apartment, a dramatically curved green, velvet sofa beautifully complements two white vintage armchairs (via Architectural Digest). 

To find the perfect eye-catching armchair or sofa for your home, it's best to think about the amount of space your have to work with. The French prefer to let their furniture breathe, so if the room is small go for an armchair to fit the bare spots. Or, opt for a larger sofa if you have more room to work with. Some great online furniture retailers to check out include Fred International and Wayfair. When investing in furniture for your home, comfort and aesthetics are both important factors to consider.

Add some texture with an antique rug

You don't need to live in a 19th-century, Haussmann-style apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower to appreciate the appeal of an antique rug. Not only do these statement pieces add color, texture, and decoration to any room, but they can also ground the space and add comfort, according to The Spruce. Lately, antique Persian rugs have been all the rage on Instagram with French influencers and are a great way to elevate any living space (via Who What Wear).

For bonus French girl cool points, snag your rug from a local flea market or pop-up shop. But no worries if online shopping is more your speed! Etsy and ABC Carpet & Home also have a great selection of unique rugs on their websites. While purchasing an antique rug is no easy task (there are so many options), it's never been easier to find your dream piece with just a few clicks.

Tie everything together with a crystal chandelier

Fancy adding a bit of glitz and glamour to your home? Say bonjour to a chandelier. While there is plenty of beautiful mid-century and contemporary options available, the only way to embrace the true magic of Paris is by going for a classic chandelier fit for Versailles, per Faraway Places. Think glittering crystals, decorative canopies, and regal details. In the City of Light, your chandelier can never be too big or bright. 

But chandeliers are more than a pretty face. These sparkling light fixtures have the power to instantly transform a space, be it a living room, bathroom, or kitchen. If you're considering investing in one, choose a size that feels natural for the room. For example, if you're placing it over a dining room table, make sure it's not too low and brushes people's heads (via Lowe's). Smaller foyers and rooms look great with mini chandeliers, while spacious living rooms benefit from larger showstoppers. And while chandeliers are certainly opulent, you can find one to fit all budgets, per Apartment Therapy.