How to Create an Effortlessly Chic, Parisian-Style Home

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on May 20, 2020

If French girls didn’t invent effortless chic, they certainly perfected it. They can look like they rolled out of bed— voila!—selfie-ready. That certain je ne sais quoi extends to their homes. How do their spaces look so nonchalant, yet so perfect?

Whether we’re talking wardrobes or apartments, it’s all about timeless sophistication. A celebration of the classics, like a Chanel LBD or a crystal chandelier. The French know good style endures and use traditional pieces as their foundation rather than chasing flash-in-the-pan trends. 

You can adopt this mindset and recreate the Parisian aesthetic without leaving your zip code. Here, courtesy of Havenly interior designer Heather Goerzen, are 10 tips for creating the look of an effortlessly chic Parisian-style home in your space, whether you live within sight of the Eiffel Tower, the Alamo or the St. Louis Arch.

Shelby's smaller sofa

One key to a polished Parisian look is interweaving vintage charm and avant-garde modernism. Objects with a little patina add a sense of history that juxtaposes beautifully with modernity. 

Imagine: a King Louis XV chair under a piece of Cubist art. An antique sideboard next to a mid-century accent chair. A statement sofa with contemporary lines sitting across from an ornate marble fireplace. Forget convention. Parisians are all about breaking design rules to create eye-catching spaces.

Pillows on a couch

There’s no such thing as “basic” art in a French home. Instead, pieces come with a story, meaning and point of view. A portrait of your grandmother in an antique frame or a statement abstract masterpiece add French-style personality to your walls.

Parisian style evokes romance and elegance. Think vases filled with fresh flowers (keep it simple with a single variety versus an elaborate arrangement), bowls overflowing with fresh fruit just picked from the farmer’s market (or delivered to your home), a straw hat hung above your entryway console, awaiting your next city stroll. 

Of course, Parisian style is all about the natural over the staged and overstyled. Just like that perfectly imperfect messy bun they’ve mastered, it’s OK for spaces to feel a little undone.

Bedding on bed

Parisian style is mixing relaxed textures with a touch of sparkle, such as casual linens with a crystal chandelier, or a distressed vintage rug with lots of brass scattered about. This high and low combination is quintessentially French.

A home dripping with the Parisian aesthetic typically has at least one or two European antiques: heirloom armoires, gilded mirrors, artifact side tables. While you will see a lot of antiques in the quintessential Parisian home, you will also find timeless modern pieces, particularly chairs, that speak to avante-garde design, like a Knoll womb chair or a Herman Miller lounge chair. 

Hint: You can find antiques and statement pieces at online retailers like Chairish or 1st Dibs but beautiful curation comes at a higher cost. If you’re up for spending a little more time digging and revisiting, try Etsy or Ebay. And of course, flea markets are a Parisian-style lovers best friend.

A must for the Parisian look is dramatic drapes. The pleated-linen look is versatile and can easily be dressed up for a more glamorous French take or serve as the backdrop for a relaxed interpretation. Embrace ornate details and sculptural objects. A pedestal with a bust on it feels right at home in Parisian style.

narrow hallway decor

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

The Parisian palette embraces more subdued hues rather than bright tones, creating homes with quiet neutral tones, or perhaps sticking to timeless black and white. If you do see color, it tends to be rich and luxurious hues like a burnt orange, deep green or moody burgundy.

Layered Rugs

Streamlined pieces meet sculptural elements. Modern marries antique. It’s all of these things curated over time and styled side by side that give a home an “oh, it just happens to look this beautiful” vibe.

Don’t buy decor for the sake of decor or jump on every here-today-gone-tomorrow trend. Take the time to collect pieces and furniture that mean something to you. This goes for big and small pieces alike. Wait to discover that settee with statement charm or bring home that chipped plate from the flea market that just makes you smile.

Art work

Ultimately, the Parisian mentality means living well in your home, arranging things for utility and purpose, rather than curating a museum display. So light those tapered candles and let the wax drip. Embrace the wrinkles in your linen bedspread. Stack artwork casually on the floor and make peace with the scratches in your furniture. A few chips in your armoire just means it’s been well-loved, cherie.

Parisian, Scandinavian or California casual? Discover your unique interior design style by taking our fun style quiz.

Words by Staci Sturrock