Get the Look: New Orleans Style Decorating

Big Easy Style on a Small Budget

When most people think about New Orleans homes, they imagine outdoor spaces -- cast iron railings and lush, private courtyards. And those are absolutely magnificent. But, New Orleans interiors are pretty special too.

With the city’s mix of French, Spanish, African, Haitian, and American Low-Country heritage, nothing is really inappropriate. I've even seen crumbling plaster become a decorative element. But, for that quintessential New Orleans style -- whether you prefer an apartment in the French Quarter, a colorful shotgun cottage, or a grand manor in the Garden District -- mix in some of these:

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    Antique French Furniture

    Antique French Upholstered Bed
    Antique French Upholstered Bed. © Leah French

    Elegant French antiques, upholstered and wood, are usually seen in New Orleans homes, whether inherited from original settlers, or just an homage to the city's French origins.

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    Low-Country Antiques

    Low-Country Sideboard
    Low-Country Sideboard. © Leah French

    Settlers of New Orleans brought their French finery with them, but as their households grew, they incorporated furnishings made locally. While lovely, these additions were far more primitive in design.

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    Ornamental Iron

    Old Iron Gate
    Old Iron Gate. © Leah French

    If you don't have that French Quarter balcony with the cast iron railings, you can still enjoy decorative ironwork. Hang a gate or fence section on the wall as art or use it as a headboard. Top a three-sided balcony piece with glass or marble to make a console table.

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    Chandeliers Dripping with Crystal

    Chandelier with Colorful Crystal Drops
    Chandelier with Colorful Crystal Drops. © Leah French

    From French Empire to fun and funky, every New Orleans style home needs lots of chandeliers to add elegance and create ambiance.

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    Elaborate Plaster and Millwork

    Elaborate Ceiling Medallion above French Empire Chandelier
    Elaborate Ceiling Medallion above French Empire Chandelier. © Wayne Shielly Wayne Shielly, Memphis, TN Interior Decorator

    If you don't have deep crown molding and elaborate plasterwork, you can fake it. Add several layers of hardware store molding to mimic elaborate crown, and paint your own ceiling medallions to enhance your chandeliers.

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    Gilding and Tufting

    Gilding and Tufting
    Gilding and Tufting. © Wayne Shielly, Memphis, TN Interior Decorator

    Opulent design details like gilding and tufting reflect the glamorous Parisian roots of many of the city's residents.

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    Religious Artifacts

    Catholic Crowns and Wax Skulls
    Catholic Crowns and Wax Skulls. © Wayne Shielly Wayne Shielly, Memphis, TN Interior Decorator

    The religious influences of Catholicism and Voodoo make for an interesting blend of decorative artifacts. In this case, wax skulls wear Infant of Prague statue crowns for a striking display.

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    Mardi Gras Memorabilia

    Mardi Gras Beads from New Orleans
    Mardi Gras Beads. " Mardi Gras Beads" by howieluvzus/ cropped/ CC BY 2.0

    New Orleans residents love Mardi Gras. Display some of your goodies from your last visit during Carnival.

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  • 09 of 11

    Lighthearted Twists on Tradition

    Pink Linen Bergere Chair by LeAnn Stephenson, The Vintage Laundress
    Pink Linen Bergere Chair by LeAnn Stephenson, The Vintage Laundress © LeAnn Stephenson, The Vintage Laundress The Vintage Laundry on Etsy

    New Orleans is a city steeped in history and tradition, but residents like to have fun with their homes. Try an unexpected twist on a serious piece, like this traditional French bergere chair reupholstered in a bright pink linen by The Vintage Laundry.

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    New Orleans Artists

    Painting by Cajun folk artist Hank Holland. © Hank Holland

    New Orleans is rich with talented local artists. Support the arts and decorate your home at the same time. Mix funky, contemporary artwork with traditional Parisian furnishings for a fun, colorful touch.

    For more of Cajun folk artist Hank Holland's amazing work,visit Hank Holland Folk Art or Baby Jane Studios on Facebook.

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    Classical Urns and Garden Statuary

    Pair of Classical Urns
    Pair of Classical Urns. &copy Leah French

    Bring the New Orleans style courtyard inside with classical urns and statuary. Fill them with ferns and tropicals for a lush indoor garden.