New Orleans Style of Interior Decorating

When people think about New Orleans homes, most imagine outdoor spaces with cast-iron railings and lush, private courtyards. Those elements are 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 inappropriate. In that town, crumbling plaster can be a decorative element.

If you are looking 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—think about antique furniture, ironwork, crystal, and more.

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    Antique French Furniture

    An 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

    A 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. The Low Country items were from South Carolina and other areas in the South.

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    Ornamental Iron

    An 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

    A 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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  • 05 of 11

    Elaborate Plaster and Millwork

    An elaborate ceiling medallion above French empire chandelier

    Wayne Shielly, Memphis, TN Interior Decorator

    If you do not 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

    French-style 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

    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.

  • 08 of 11

    Mardi Gras Memorabilia

    Mardi Gras Beads from New Orleans

    howieluvzus / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    New Orleans residents love Mardi Gras year-round. In the days leading up to the start of Lent, display some of your goodies from your last visit during Carnival time.

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  • 09 of 11

    Lighthearted Twists on Tradition

    Pink Linen Bergere Chair

    LeAnn Stephenson / The Vintage Laundry

    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 bright pink linen by The Vintage Laundry.

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    New Orleans Artists

    New Orleans painting

    Hank Holland

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

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    Classical Urns and Garden Statuary

    Pair of Classical Urns

    Leah French

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