French interior design may be an art of its own, but that does not mean you can’t take inspiration from it. French interior design exudes a certain je ne sais quoi: it is both refined and effortless. But the simplest looks often require carefully considered design choices, and the French signature is no exception. To add a French touch to your home interior decorating, here are 6 ideas you can follow !
1 Don’t be afraid to mix styles !
The French like to mix vintage and modern furniture, while the American style is more homogeneous. French designers have no scruples about placing a modern chair next to a chest of drawers from the 18th century or placing ultra-modern lighting against an ornate backdrop. It's all about the dynamic tension that exists between different eras and styles.
If you don't know where to start when it comes to mixing styles, think about your overall goal for the finished space: for example, if you plan to incorporate a luxurious vintage sofa, plan your other furnishings around that sofa as a focal point. Things that don’t pair well together often make for the most interesting interiors.
Your mix can, and maybe should incorporate personal elements to you, like pieces that are meaningful to your heritage. To get the look in your own space, incorporate pieces from your family's collection into your décor. Weave these pieces into your decoration to create a sense of history in your home.
2 Embrace imperfection
As dishevelled as they are elegant, French interiors should never seem too curated or too perfect. In other words, don't overdo it. Instead of filling your room with brand-new expensive furniture, you can choose used furniture that’s still in good condition, even if it is slightly faded or worn. Mix different styles and draw inspiration from different landmarks: you can place family portraits next to posters depicting France's most impressive sights and monuments. You can get these in our shop.
Be aware that there is no such thing as perfection, mix different styles and make bold choices. Don't worry too much about how the pieces fit together - as long as the proportions are right and you love each piece, you'll find your style through trial and error.
3 Take risks with your colours
Although the French have an affinity for chic all-white interiors, this use of unusual colours is also one way they bridge the gap between old and new. In terms of colours, when it comes to contemporary French interior design, the rule is... there are no rules. Contemporary interior decorators like to mix colours, eras and any design style that speaks to them - and what could be more French than that?
French decorators like to mix furniture from the 1950s with more contemporary elements. Once they’ve chosen their furniture, to bring items from different eras together in one room, the French use a few strong, complementary colours that give a uniformity to the whole. In short, there’s one formula you can remember from this: “Colour connects the styles”.
You can use vibrant colours to tie the room together and make all of your different styles and eras fit together nicely is a unique way to emulate french interior decoration. If there’s one thing that goes against French standards, in decorating and just about anything, it’s being too boring or predictable. Express yourself and make the room a reflection of all of the different aspects of who you are !
4 Don't trust trends
"Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose": The more things change, the more they stay the same, says the old French saying. Trends may come and go - in politics, fashion, food, decorating, etc. - but the fundamentals of life are reliable, rooted as deep as an old oak tree.
Rather than blindly buying the most modern and trendy items, try to update your furniture while maintaining the original spirit of the room - in other words, be true to yourself in your decorating rather than conforming to what is popular at any given time. Many French interior designers are masters of the art of "chiner," which involves scouring numerous second-hand stores for the perfect pieces. This allows you to decorate in a sustainable and eco-friendly way, and giving a new life or purpose to a used decoration is part of this process. Plus, it will save you money and allow you to find some truly unique items for your home !
There’s nothing wrong with keeping up to date with your interior decoration, and nobody wants to live in a home that feels old and tired - but a key element of french decoration is to give your place identity, and sometimes that means not trusting what’s popular at any given moment and staying true to your style.
5 Consider the Lifestyle
The French like to live and spend their time in harmony with the environment around them, which means it takes very little effort as long as we aren’t into fussy things.
When you decorate your new home to give it a french style, be like Marie Antoinette ! She lived relatively simply (despite the myths) but exuded style…she was always beautifully dressed without being overly rich or ostentatious; she would wear simple clothes day after day so her wardrobe didn't get old too quickly.
Use simple furniture that you love and it won't go out of style anytime soon. Keep it simple, mix vintage with new, and allow your memories and treasures brought home from travels to shape the space rather than sticking to any particular interior style. Interiors in France are just as much about design as they are a lifestyle. They appear so effortless, but only because they are built to accommodate the way you move through the room. There are resting areas to lounge in and creative storage for all of your souvenirs and other items you want to display.
Remember, your home is a reflection of who you are, and your decor should reflect your lifestyle. Being true to your lifestyle will help you achieve that signature french look of effortlessness mixed with high attention to detail.
6 Stay Practical
While French interiors are the furthest thing from short-term corporate housing, they never emphasize form over function. A French interior should be as practical as it is beautiful. Your home’s doorways, mirrors, and furniture should make moving from room to room a pleasant task. Whilst the French love to decorate, they also hate being inconvenienced. The effortlessness of your interior design should also translate into an effortlessness to move between rooms.
Of course, this means rather than filling up your space with shelves or cupboards, you can use already existing parts of your space as opportunities for decoration. For example, potted plants are a staple in French interiors and give an organic, breathable feel to any room while providing fresh oxygen. You can place different kinds of plants on small benches that you can also use for creative storage. The body of your staircase can serve as a home to many picture frames, souvenirs, and artsy baubles.
Are you ready to begin redecorating your home? If you want to add another extra touch of French appeal to your interior decorating, you should take a look at the illustrations of some of France’s most iconic and beautiful landmarks.