If You Love French Style, These 9 Items Will Add Chic Parisian Vibes

published Jun 29, 2023
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Credit: Erin Derby

There’s no denying that Paris is one of the most stylish cities in the world. Not only is it a prominent fashion capital, but its coveted interiors are also known for their sophisticated blend of modern furnishings and fanciful architectural details. From parquet floors and marble fireplaces to elaborate wall moldings and floor-to-ceiling windows, the sheer bones of a Parisian apartment make it easy to be chic.

But you don’t have to live in one of the city’s 20 arrondissements to have beautiful French style in your own home. There are certain decor elements and accessories that you can add to your abode in order to create those dreamy Parisian vibes — and even better, almost all of them happen to be renter-friendly. Here are nine decor elements that can channel the Parisian aesthetic into your own home.

Credit: Sylvie Li

An Ornate Mantelpiece

When the larger unit across from her studio opened up, Lauren MacLean jumped at the chance to move in. And it’s easy to see why — her Montreal apartment has no shortage of dreamy Parisian charm, like high ceilings, beautiful wall moldings, and herringbone floors. But it’s the stone mantel in the living room that’s the real focal point. Its ornate marble keystone and arched fireplace opening lend a decidedly French architectural element to her space, and MacLean is lucky enough to have a matching one in her bedroom. 

Credit: Julia Arceri

A Gilt Mirror

Texas isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find a home that looks straight out of Paris, but that’s exactly how to describe Julia Arceri’s French-inspired home in Houston, where she lives with her husband. Although the property is a new construction, it has a very Old World feel to it, especially the “green room,” which Arceri describes as a formerly “blank, dry-walled boring space” before they added wall moldings, an ornate fireplace, and a moody green paint job. It also contains two of her favorite French decor elements — crystal chandeliers and gilt mirrors — which she has in every room of the house. As Arceri points out, “They add such an elegance and grandeur, and they are timeless.” 

Credit: Erin Derby

Some Oil Paintings

When you fall hard for a property, like Brigette Muller did with her Brooklyn apartment, you’re willing to overlook some of its shortcomings, which in her case included a bathroom without a sink. The home’s many beautiful features — like arched openings, the original tin ceiling, white wood floors, and a stone fireplace — more than make up for it.

Built in 1928, the railroad-style unit serves as the perfect backdrop for Muller to display her lovely array of antiques and French-inspired finds, including aged pots and vessels, ceramic dishes, and sculptures. And her impressive collection of oil paintings featuring landscapes, still lifes, and portraits exudes the feeling of an artist’s flat in Montmartre.

Credit: Erin Derby

Herringbone Floors

There’s a lot to love about the New York apartment that Jessica Rachel Williams has called home for half a decade. Her unit is what was originally the parlor room of a brownstone built in 1885, and it has all the charming historical details you’d expect to find in such a space. There’s a dumbwaiter and a fireplace in the bathroom, ornate decorative moldings on the walls, and an oversized bay window that serenely overlooks the back courtyard. However, it’s the gorgeous herringbone floor stained in a dark walnut color (a striking contrast to the white walls) that really makes her space feel more like a pied-à-terre in the heart of Paris. 

Column Pedestals

The Palace of Versailles was the inspiration for Sarah Maamari when she was decorating her studio apartment in Montreal. It’s filled with vintage items that have a luxe quality, like the three-piece marble and gold table set in her living room, gilded candelabras, portraits of royals, and even a mini palace for her pet bunny, Prince Louis. To bring some French flair to the area under her TV, Maamari added two column pedestals and wrapped some ivy around them. Not only are they a practical display for books and candles, but they also offer more architectural interest than a traditional media console. 

Decorative Molding

Nicole Arruda had a hard time finding an apartment in New York City that checked all of her boxes and was also within her budget. So when she moved into her Upper East Side studio, she wasted no time flexing her creative muscles and adding some of the details she was craving in her space. She started by adding wall moldings to the main living area and then had a vintage fireplace mantel installed, which she scored on Facebook Marketplace and painted black. Those two changes alone gave the space a lot more character and infused it with a bit of Parisian charm.

Credit: Tessa Cooper

Vintage Furniture

While Tessa Cooper and her husband, Chandler, were renovating an 1886 Victorian home they had purchased, they called a 550-square-foot apartment in Springfield their home. Because the landlord preferred they not paint over the high-quality white paint on the walls, which could feel a bit sterile, they relied on patinated wood and marble pieces to bring in some warmth and coziness.

Finding inspiration from their European travels as well as books about French interiors, much of their furniture is vintage, with unique features like curved drawer fronts and cabriole legs. Indeed, they count a broken glass door on a secondhand curiosity cabinet (which they cleverly repaired with plexiglass) among their proudest DIYs. 

Credit: Tara Carney

Bust Sculptures

Tara Carney fancies herself a “separate space” kind of person rather than an open-concept one. So designing with the open floor plan in her Florida ranch-style home was a bit of a challenge. But she overcame it beautifully by carving out separate sections in the large great room for a library, music room, dining room, and living room. Each area feels distinct but cohesive, thanks to the consistent use of French-inspired decor elements — specifically the gallery walls filled with gilded frames, wall moldings, ceiling medallions, and a large collection of bust sculptures. “I’m a sucker for a plastered head,” jokes Carney. 

Credit: JP Floru

Bistro Table

When your apartment is legitimately a pied-à-terre in the French Riviera, like the apartment in Nice that JP Floru owns, there’s not much you have to do to add Parisian charm to it. Although small in square footage, the space has 11-foot ceilings and two large windows with Juliet balconies, which lend an airy sense of grandeur. Floru leaned into the building’s history, opting to furnish the place with pieces from local antique and thrift shops. And he positioned a wrought-iron bistro table with matching chairs to take full advantage of the view.