How to Turn Your Home into a Chic Parisian-Style Pied-à-Terre

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WORDS BY Kelly O'Reilly

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Published on March 19, 2021

If we had to think of the coolest thing someone could drop in conversation at a party, “I keep an apartment in Paris,” would rank pretty high. Yes, “keeping” an extra apartment anywhere is pretty glamorous, but that’s only half the intrigue. It’s been said a million times before, but we’ll say it again: there’s just something about Paris. Fortunately, while the City of Light is notoriously enigmatic, there are distinct Parisian design features that you can easily emulate in your home.

“Parisian style always has that effortless, cool-girl effect,” says Shelby Girard, Havenly’s VP of Creative and Design. While there’s definitely some je ne sais quoi at play, it is possible to craft the look overtime (as Girard’s classic Brooklyn brownstone and Connecticut home both attest). “Whether your space is modern with minimal detail or older and filled with ornate features, you can nail the Parisian modern style through a curated mix of furniture and decor,” she adds.

Ahead, Girard breaks down the “ingredients” of the chic Parisian modern aesthetic, from the color palette to the furniture and beyond.

Parisian modern

Mix Old & New

Simply put, nailing the Parisian modern aesthetic is all about contrast. “Including a mix of design styles and materials is so important,” says Girard. “Avoid going overly delicate, feminine, or traditional — always include a few edgier pieces to create visual interest.” Think: a sculptural chandelier over an antique dining table, or an ornate, gilded mirror next to a modern accent chair.

parisian modern decor

Celebrate Architecture

At the end of the day, Parisian style starts with the good bones. Herringbone floors, ornate molding, elaborate fireplaces — with a canvas this beautiful, it’s no wonder Parisian modern spaces feel so refined. If you’re up for a labor of design love, installing architectural features like picture molding, a fireplace, and natural wood flooring can dramatically transform your home.

Keep it Au Naturale

Parisian modern embraces all things natural over the staged and over-styled. Just like that perfectly imperfect messy bun they’ve mastered, it’s okay, if not preferred, for spaces to feel a little undone. Picture: vases filled with a single variety of fresh flowers, half-burned candles scattered throughout, and slightly wrinkled linens. Your space should feel homey and lived in, not like a museum.

edgy leopard dining chairs

Embrace Drama

Another signature feature of Parisian Modern style? An elegant, neutral color palette punctuated by graphic black and white. In both her Connecticut and Brooklyn homes, Girard opted for a blank canvas with neutral white walls, and peppered in dramatic pieces like a graphic geometric rug, sculptural pendant lights, bold abstract art, and even a touch of animal print. Even dramatic, pleated drapes in a neutral hue can do the trick. 

parisian modern style

Add Personal Touches

Sure, the Parisian modern look is new and trendy, but it’s also defined by unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. “I think people love Parisian Modern style because it feels curated and collected, as opposed to cookie-cutter,” says Girard. “While we can highlight design themes, there is no hard-and-fast formula, because it’s effortless and personalized by nature.” As a rule of thumb, always make space for meaningful heirloom and beloved vintage finds, whether it’s a chipped tea set from your Grandmother or a vintage piece of art that speaks to you. Take the time to collect pieces and furniture that mean something. 

Want to test-drive the Parisian modern look in your home? Our designers can help — get started with our style quiz!

parisian modern dining room

Take the first step in making your French-inspired decor fantasies a reality with our style quiz.

Words by Kelly O'Reilly