How to Decorate in the Paris Apartment Style

How to Decorate in the Paris Apartment Style
Worthing Court

The image of a Paris apartment brings the thought of intrigue, romance, and European beauty to mind. Rooms have high ceilings with grand architectural details. A small balcony with a wrought iron railing overlooks a quaint street or the River Seine. Windows are tall. Pedestrians bustle on the streets below.

Paris apartment decorating style ranges through many decorating periods, including baroque, rococo, and neoclassical. Contemporary Parisian apartments incorporate art deco, Mediterranean, old world, and cabaret influences.

Rich jewel colors like emerald green, crimson, and royal blues are accented with black, white, and gold.

Burnished gilt touches accent architectural details and carving on furniture.

Furniture and accessories have time-worn elegance and a vintage look. Chairs, tables, and armoires painted in black or cream bear golden accents. They blend beautifully with dark, carved wood. Rich, shimmering silks and luxurious brocades and velvets enhance upscale interiors.

To finish out a Paris style interior, accessories and motifs include vintage posters of French nightspots, French signs, large train station clocks, black wrought iron tables and shelving, and any scenes of France, Paris, or the Eiffel Tower.

If you're trying to bring the Paris apartment decorating style to your home, try to incorporate some of these elements in your space:

  • Black is the accent color and a unifying element in Paris rooms. Bring black into your home without making things look dark. Find painted wood furniture, picture frames, fabrics, lampshades and accessories in black or with black trim.
  • To really bring Paris to your room, use large posters of French landmarks, nightspots, and Parisian buildings. If you can find paintings, etchings, old black and white postcards, or sepia-toned photos of anything French, all the better.
  • Large clocks are often a focal point in a Paris room. Find a reproduction clock with lettering in French or that shows a French scene. The older it looks, the better! It doesn't have to work. It just has to look great!
  • Toile, roosters, fleurs de lis, chateaux, pastoral scenes, views of the Eiffel Tower, Monet impressionist paintings, and pictures of riverboats on the Seine are popular decorating motifs that are easy to find.
  • Don't try to match the elements in your room. Furniture and accessories should look old and used, but not shabby.
  • For light fixtures, select wall sconces with black silk shades, crystal chandeliers, and fringed lampshades on table lamps. A gold foil lining on a black lampshade will help to reflect a romantic glow. Add your own beads, fringe, and cording to simple lampshades if you can't find any already embellished.
  • Round tables should have layers of skirts. Add a plush cushion to an intricately twisted iron benches. Nothing says Paris more than a little bistro table and chairs. Use a large ottoman covered in rich fabric in place of a coffee table.​
  • Velvet, damask, brocade, lustrous silks, and traditional toiles are found in Paris style rooms. Toile is often paired with coordinating color checked fabrics in both large and small scales. Add a luxurious old-world look with tassels, cording, fringes, and other details. Textured linen, weathered leather, paisley designs, and bold stripes can be used.
  • Furniture should be upholstered with beautiful fabrics, dressmaker details, and have carved legs. Cushions of down provide the slightly rumpled look of comfort and elegance.
  • Wood furniture pieces of carved, dark tones or stains are often tinged with touches of gilt. Black and ivory paint, distressed and crackled, give wood pieces an aged look. There's no such thing as matching furniture. Pieces should look as though they were found through a lifetime.
  • Every Paris style bedroom has a decadent vanity table. Add a luxurious look to a simple table by dressing it with silk, mirrors, and voluminous ruffles. Dress it with vintage accessories, frames, and perfume bottles.
  • Use large vintage mirrors, architectural elements (columns, corbels), garden statuary, black wireware, clocks, hat boxes, luxurious silk pillows, soft throws, vintage candelabra, flowers, plants, china, and delicate porcelain figurines to accessorize a Paris style room. Find dramatic hats or vintage linens at swap meets and antique shops.
  • Depending on the style of the room and its use, windows can have elaborate, flowing drapery panels topped with swagged valances, ruffles, tassels, silk cording, or bouillon fringes. A simpler room could use linen or toile panels over shutters or wooden blinds.
  • Hardwood flooring is stained dark and covered with old Oriental carpets. They add a grounding pattern, color, and age.

Paris apartment interiors appeal to our sense of glamour and European style. By using some of the elements here, you can bring the look to your own home.