Parisian-Style Decor for Apartments

How to Decorate in the Paris Apartment Style

Worthing Court

Apartments in Paris evoke a sense of intrigue, romance, and European beauty. Rooms have high ceilings with tall windows and grand architectural details. Typically, Parisian apartments boast a small balcony with a wrought iron railing that overlooks a quaint street or the Seine river. Parisian apartment decor ranges from baroque to rococo to neoclassical. And most contemporary apartments incorporate art deco, Mediterranean, old world, and cabaret influences. If Parisian-style is the look you're going for in your own apartment, try incorporating a few timeless elements into your space.

Colors and Fabrics

A walk into any Paris home greets you with rich colors like emerald green, crimson, and royal blue, all commonly offset with black, white, and gold. Black serves as both an accent color and a unifying element in most Parisian rooms. Bring black into your home without making things look too dark by selecting painted wood furniture, picture frames, and lampshades donned in black or add black trim to a white room. In theme with this style, hardwood flooring is typically stained dark and covered with Oriental carpets to bring in pattern, color, and metallic accents.

For fabrics, choose velvet, damask, brocade, lustrous silks, and traditional toiles. Toile is often paired with both large and small-scale coordinating color-checked fabrics. Add a luxurious look with the addition of tassels, cording, fringes, and other details. Textured linen, paisley designs, and bold stripes can also be used for draperies, throws, and bed linens.

Furniture

Furniture in a Parisian apartment has a time-worn elegance and a vintage look. Chairs, tables, and armoires painted in black or cream blend beautifully with wood floors. Most French wood furniture incorporates carvings and is stained dark with touches of gold gilt. Distressed and crackled paints give the furniture an aged look, even if it's not antique. And there's no such thing as matching furniture in this style of decor. Pieces should look as though they were acquired throughout a lifetime. Furniture and accessories should be old and used, but not shabby.

Every bedroom in Paris has a decadent vanity table. You can replicate this by dressing a simple table with silk, a mirror, vintage accessories, frames, and perfume bottles.

Other Parisian elements include round tables with layers of skirts and a plush cushion on an intricate iron bench. In the kitchen, nothing says "Paris" more than a bistro table and chairs. And using a large ottoman covered in rich fabric in place of a coffee table in the living room brings a comfy Parisian feel to your lounging spot.​

Furniture should be upholstered with beautiful fabrics, complete with dressmaker details, and have carved legs. Cushions of down provide the slightly rumpled look of comfort and elegance.

Lighting

For light fixtures, select wall sconces, crystal chandeliers, and table lamps with fringed lampshades. A gold foil-lined black lampshade adds a romantic glow. You can even add your own beads, fringe, and cording to simple lampshades if you can't find embellished ones.

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. In a simpler room, choose linen or toile panels to bring in natural light. Whatever you choose, make sure the fabric isn't too heavy so that it blocks out this light source, as French decor is already heavy. Bring in as much light as possible to open things up and make small rooms look big.

Accessories and Accents

Accessories and motifs put the finishing touches on a Parisian-style interior. Include vintage posters of French nightspots, French signs, train station clocks, wrought iron shelving, and any scenes of France, Paris, or the Eiffel Tower. Try to source paintings, etchings, old black and white postcards, or sepia-toned photos to round out the look.

Large clocks are often a focal point in a Parisian room. A reproduction clock with French lettering or one that shows a French scene works well here. And the older it looks, the better! It doesn't even have to work.

Other ways to bring in French style include incorporating large vintage mirrors, architectural elements (like columns and corbels), garden statuary, silk pillows, soft throws, vintage candelabra, and China into a room's ensemble. You can also find dramatic hats or vintage linens at swap meets and antique shops.