Tan France, the silver-haired resident fashionista from Netflix's Queer Eye, really is just like us—at least a little. During a recent 15-minute Zoom call, he touched on so many things we love here at The Spruce: how to make our homes beautiful, floral arrangements, and Trader Joe's snacks. Plus he gushed about his baby nursery decor (he and his husband will be parents via surrogate sometime this summer) and a new instant coffee he says tastes like the real thing. And bonus, we were dressed similarly—we both chose a French Breton-style shirt and jeans. Read on for his advice on decorating your home and more.
His Genius Tip for Decor When You Have No Idea Where to Start
France may be the Queer Eye's fashion guru, but he's no novice when it comes to interior design. He has, after all, renovated two homes and is currently building his dream home. "So I feel very comfortable in the design space," he said. So it makes sense that when his friends struggle with decorating their home and come to him for advice, he looks to fashion and gets them to think outside the design box.
"So my question for them is what do you like in your wardrobe? If you don’t you know what colors to use in your house, [think about] the colors you gravitate towards and the colors you pair together," he said.
"If you like camel colors and taupes and maupes on your body... why wouldn’t you use those in your home? They clearly make you feel good on your person, so why wouldn’t they feel good in your space? So that’s how I suggest somebody style out their room. If you’re willing to put it on your body and show the world that version of you, why wouldn’t you put that in your house?" he said.
His Home Decor Version of the French Tuck
France has made the French Tuck—the simple-yet-effective way to style a shirt by tucking in the very front of it and letting the rest hang loose—so ubiquitous you almost forget that it's his go-to look. He told Jimmy Fallon he gets accosted by fans asking him to "tuck" them—even in a men's restroom once (watch his funny appearance here). So we had to find out what the home decor equivalent is.
Accents, he said. "For example I’m in Austin right now [shooting the show], and whenever we go to corporate housing, which is usually a lovely apartment, it’s always so blah. Really simple white walls, and I usually don’t love the decor, [but] I want it to feel like home because I’m usually there for months on end," he said. He makes low-lift updates to make it his own and feel comfortable.
"So I will take the kind of pillows I have at home and ship them over... I will change out drapes," he said, adding that he changes the bedding, too. " [These] things that aren’t super expensive and you can switch up the whole vibe of a room with just the accents of the room alone."
A Sneak 'Peek' at His Baby Nursery
Tan and husband Rob France are expecting their new baby to arrive in summer 2021 via surrogate, so of course the nursery is well underway. He shared some details about the "bright and airy" space they've created.
"I’m really excited about the nursery. Full disclosure: we are building a home right now, my dream home. That home will have a proper nursery. But whilst we’re in our current home we’ll have a nursery that will be temporary. So we’re not doing a proper proper nursery, but we are buying furniture for it," he said.
The crib: "I’m obsessed with. It’s mint and white. We wanted something relatively neutral, so we’ve got a lot of mint accents and white and really pale woods."
Creative storage: A lot of the containers [for items like] diapers and lotions... are all cute animal-shaped wicker—a giraffe, a hedgehog. They’re really cute."
Changing table: "It is extremely large, extremely wide. It’s all white, and it has these beautiful white letters that make up the alphabet. It’s lovely. It’s all really calming."
A cozy chair: "And I have a rocking chair that is boucle and it's white and really lovely."
The rocking chair is not just for the baby, he admitted. "I’ve had a rocking chair in my house for years just for myself regardless of having a baby. They’re just so cozy, he said, adding "I am an old lady, and anyone who knows me knows I’m an old lady. I’m in the bed by 10 every day."
What Not to Do When Decorating a Space
He didn't miss a beat when asked what to avoid when curating items for a room. "Easy," he said. "If you see something all over Instagram—my Explore page is full of interior design and clothes and now baby stuff—that feed is full of everything that is hot right now.
"If you see it in like 10 posts, don’t put that in your house," Tan said. Noting that trends come and go quickly, he questioned the fiscal responsibility of overhauling home decor every six months.
Instead, "go for something more classic... something you know you’ve seen for 10 years 20 years. So all those pendants you see over a beautiful kitchen island, believe me, that orb pendant is going last you two years and you’re going need to change it because everyone is over it.
"So my opinion is if you see it everywhere, that’s a trend, maybe avoid that trend. And I say the same thing about clothes," he said.
What About Combining the Classics With Trendy Items?
"Absolutely? But don’t make [the trendy item] an expensive piece. Don’t center your room around that trendy piece," he said. "Center your room around that classic piece that you know you’re gonna love.
"Just don’t spend a lot on the thing you know is a trend. Spend your money on the things you know aren’t going out of style any time soon."
His No. 1 Tip for Updating Decor for Entertaining
His affinity for accents continued here. "For hosting I did this a couple weeks ago before I moved to Austin. I changed up my tablescape," he said. "I’m assuming most people who are hosting are going have dinner. And it’s relatively inexpensive to change the tablescape. So go for a table runner thats nice, new placemats, get beautiful florals that could adorn the center of your table, a nice vase.
"Go for things that could make the space a little different to what it was a year and half ago when you last had a dinner party. And even down to the dinnerware itself, you can change out the cutlery and the serving platters. It’s a relatively inexpensive to make your dining space fresh," he said, adding "I wouldn’t focus on anything else. Who cares if your bathrooms are the same ? Who cares if the bedrooms the same? No one is going in there anyway."
He tied this back to his idea about trendy items: "Make sure the most expensive things in your room are the classic things. Your dining table hopefully is relatively classic and your chairs are too, so hopefully all you have to do is change out the accents."
His Go-To Flowers
It was no surprise that France had strong opinions about flowers, as they can add so much texture and interest to a space. "I'm a very simple person when it comes to decor. I like to keep it as streamlined as possible. If I can go with all green florals, I'll go with all one color or very tonal. I don’t like a mishmash of colors at all.
"Depending on the season I’ll buy different flowers; in the winter months I love a lot of white flowers. I’ll usually go with a lot of lilies and white roses as my centerpiece with little bits of green. In the summer I’ll go for beautiful daffodils or something that really highlights the season. And when those flowers are in season, at Trader Joe’s you can get them for like $5. It’s great," he said.
His Favorite Trader Joe's Snacks
"I love Trader Joe's," he enthusiastically said. "I live at Trader Joes. It’s where I get all my favorite snacks. Here are his five favorites:
- Dark chocolate pretzels, not the full ones, the flat pretzels. Gorgeous
- Milk chocolate-peanut butter-filled pretzels. Heaven
- Dried coconut that is slightly sweetened. It’s like coconut roasted chips. Gorgeous
- Also don’t sleep on the ginger granola cereal which is gorgeous
- Sparkling water with apple cider vinegar and strawberry. It's only eight grams of sugar, 35 calories. HEA-VEN. It’s so good. It’s as good as soda but low-calorie.
The New Time-Saving Starbucks Product He Loves
Tan has partnered with Starbucks for its Premium Instant Coffee line. "If you ever see me out, I always have my Starbucks so it’s the perfect partnership for me," he said.
The fact that it's instant coffee is a game changer. "I am now able to get things done quicker. I'm usually use a cafetiere—I think you call a French press—which usually takes some time. And so it’s nice to be able to afford myself the luxury of time. And it’s nice that it actually tastes just like the medium roast. I’m a medium roast girl and it’s the same as a medium roast."
In this time of change—he says he's working for the first time in more than a year and with the baby on the way—streamlining some things makes sense.