Monday, 5 May 2014

Interior Decorating: A Parisian Touch

It's pretty safe to say, that the general populace, even if they haven't been there, love Paris (or at least, the idea of Paris). 

For me, when I think of Paris, the tune of 'La Vie en Rose' starts playing in my head and suddenly I'm remembering the beautiful architecture, the smell of the boulangeries on every street corner, the puddles on the cobblestone in the morning after the streets have been washed, the sight of men in suave suits on bicycles with a baguette in the front basket (yes, they actually do that). 

Paris is rightfully the quintessential stop for all things chic and inspiring. Just a major shame that it's quite literally on the other side of the globe to humble New Zealand. 30-something hours on a plane is just not something you do willy-nillly; for starters, it's super expensive and for those with kids... let's not even go there. ::shudder:: 

So fair enough that you try to inject a bit of that Parisian whimsy into your home, right?  

But the equation should never be:

  • cheap, painted-white, faux French antique furniture
  • gaudy 'I LOVE PARIS' prints
  • pink or mint walls
  • cheap black and white baroque print curtains
  • chandelier wall decals

I could go on. I think you know what I'm talking about. It's a pet-peeve of mine, seeing a room-makeover TV show that throws all these things together and go, TA-DA!! A PARISIAN ROOM. 


Let's look at some REAL Parisian interiors:

Air b'n'b
Elle Decor

French by Design
French by Design
Architectural Digest
Saint Germain Luxury Vacation Apartment Rental Paris
Haven in Paris
Paris Property Group

And how 'bout some delightful exterior shots, just for fun?

Apartments for Sale Paris
Cities Reference
(My own photo)
(Own snap)

Altogether now, 


Doesn't it make you want to live there for a bit?? Your own Parisian apartment?? 

Unfortunately, that's a far cry from reality so if we were to take the next best thing and inject a bit of that Parisian-apartment feel into our homes, what to do? 

The above photos generally have these commonalities:

  • Haussmann-era chevron hardwood floors and white walls with elaborate moldings
  • fabulous drapes
  • rug-goodness
  • some painted-black wood furniture pieces to anchor the space
  • mirrors to open up the space
  • some modern furniture with clean lines
  • texture for added interest
  • decor items that look layered over time with an easy nonchalant feeling

I really like that a lot of Parisian interiors look like the property dwellers only keep pieces that mean something to them. Generally, the interior design is more function than form with a lot of technically mismatching pieces that still somehow work together as a whole. There's no unnecessary clutter, and generally the clutter they have is something more personal like a cluster of books with perhaps a notepad and mug of pens on top. 

I also appreciate the kind of laissez-faire approach to decorating that a lot of these interior pictures display; picture frames just sitting on the floor or shelf, as if to say, "I'm toootally going to get 'round to hanging this someday... (or maybe not)...meh..." 

I've seen a lot of other interior design pictures that look just too contrived and stuffy... sort of like they went out and bought everything all at once and messed around with it for hours till it looked P-E-R-F-E-C-T. Bleh. How tiring! But Parisian interiors are like the Kate Moss (circa early millennium) of interiors; thrown together without too much thought and yet still, in its entirety, perfection. 

Alice in Wardrobe Wonderland
Home Ideas

(Excuse the weird formatting - for some reason, I can't make the pictures the exact same size without one of them having a massive spaz and ending up in a completely different region of this entire post. Wtf. Get a grip

Now, as for executing this Parisian-apartment-esque look, the chevron hardwood floors might be harder to achieve in New Zealand where carpet is usually underfoot. The elaborate moldings might be a bit difficult to come by also. But definitely painting your walls white is a way to go! 

Lovely, wallet-friendly, fabulous drapes are also difficult to source here... so my plan of action is that I just aim to slowly do one room at a time in our house (1 down, 6 to go...).

For furniture, skip the faux antique - if you can't afford the real deal or something super close to it, stick with simple lines and minimal detail. The plainer it is, the harder it is to tell whether it's $10 or $100. Also, if you go with black, it will anchor your light white airy space. 

Add interesting textures together: faux fur throw and embroidered cushions, worn leather couch and a knit blanket, reclaimed wood bench and a recycled glass vase, hammered metal frames and an acrylic tray, agate coasters and linen placemats etc. You get my drift, non?

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial www.vintagerevivals
Vintage Revivals

Don't do flea-market everything. It should be roughly 2 parts minimalistic clean lines to 1 part rustic character piece. Too much flea-market turns your would-be-chic into old-man-wreak. 

But maybe it's more important to capture the attitude, rather than tangible things? Going back to the stuffy and contrived interior design photos (I know it's a requirement to spruce things up and stage things for the photos), it just makes it look like the home owner is slightly OCD, everything has to be in its place, and there's nary any tell-tale signs of a real-life person living in the home. I personally align myself with the more French notion of allowing things to just be... my sense of style isn't as innate as the French but I can 100% testify to the letting-things-be (read: lazy) part. No, that cup of coffee hasn't been sitting there for over a day what are you talking about. 

And on that note, here are my half-assed attempts to adding a bit of a Parisian flair in my own abode... 

French relaxed attitude of "I'll hang it one day..."
Substantially-sized black-lacquered dresser for a bit of anchorage - that oddly-angled wall is deceptively LARGE.
OH look! And I got round to hanging the art. Fail? ...? 
Mostly modern with some classic - sorry about the ancient iPhone 3G photo oh dear...
Un-staged photo that looks staged... that dress was hanging there cos I was packing for a wedding away from home 
Impeccable timing, your majesty! (Name that movie)
Old lines mixed with new, black bookcase to anchor the space,  plus a caramel leather desk chair - couldn't be bothered moving the bag or the dog's blanket, floor cushion or high chair though ^^;;

If you couldn't tell by my lacklustre attempts, my opinions are purely from an observational basis and not of experience nor practice. Hope you enjoyed the blabbering nevertheless. 

Here's to having a touch of Parisian chic in every corner of the globe! Santé!


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