11 Decorating Secrets the French Know (That You Don't)

From Paris down to Cannes, the French imbue an undeniable air of effortless chic. Their casual-yet-elegant style has forever captured the attention of many a traveller, hoping to replicate that same flair. 

The French are no different when it comes to decorating their homes, and we'd be lying if we said we hadn't been caught down a "Parisian apartment" hole on Pinterest once or twice. Luckily, we've found the best decorating secrets from the French to give your home that certain je ne sais quoi.

1. Pay Homage

So, the French might have a slight jump on us when it comes to the original bones of their homes. While you might not be blessed with herringbone floors that carry a certain patina of the past, or an ornate original fireplace in the living room, that doesn't mean you can't celebrate the architecture you do have. If you have high ceilings, accentuate them with a striking pendant or take note of the colours in your feature tiles and use them to base your decorating decisions around. Pay attention and you'll begin to see features that you can make shine.

2. Mix and Match

French interiors may appear perfect, but they're not (let me explain). The French are masters at curating their homes with pieces old and new, from showrooms and at brocantes (vintage markets). By letting antique vases mingle with sleek armchairs, you're creating a space that's both timeless and oh so French! 

3. The New White Wall

One thing that's a regular fixture for the French is the crisp white wall; a perfect backdrop to showcase your new-found style against. While that in itself may not sound revolutionary, consider adding timber mouldings to amp up the French factor and achieve something truly unique. 

4. Practicality First

Whether it's a little breakfast nook or a comfy corner for a night-time read, the French believe in useful spaces to enhance your time at home. Do - consider the way you live and how you can make the most of every space. Don't - fill every gap with meaningless bits and pieces for the sake of it. 

5. No Trends Allowed

We've all been guilty at one time or another for jumping on the bandwagon of the latest design trends. From velvet to pastels to macrame (remember that time?), the way to successfully French-ify your place is to bypass trends completely. Lean into the colours, textures, shapes and designs that, dare we say it, spark joy.

6. A Personal Connection

French homes leave you with a feeling, something that can be rare to come by in other parts of the world. How do they do this, you ask? Personalisation. Grab that box of family photos gathering dust in the garage and create a gallery wall with frames in different shapes and sizes. Show off the things that make you and your family special.

7. Know the Masters

Can you recognise your Jeanneret from your Prouvé? Doing a deep dive on the classic designers might help to give you an insight into why you like what you like. Knowledge is power, and the French use it to their advantage to inform their design decisions at home.

8. Keep It Casual

We already know that the French embody an effortlessness at all times. The way they translate that into their interior spaces is by simply not trying too hard. For example, your bookshelf doesn't need to be staged to within an inch of its life. Instead, fill it loosely with your absolute favourite books and magazines, and maybe a potted plant for good measure.

9. Rug Up

A staple in any French home is a big, beautiful floor rug. Not only does it soften the space, but it's an opportunity to play with texture and colour in a big way. Think intricate Persian rugs in deep Burgundy tones to anchor everything and set the tone.

10. Never Really Finished

The secret to French decorating? It's never really "finished". It can be tempting to go out and buy everything you think you need for your home and expect to be rewarded with a feeling of completion. The French, however, let their homes evolve slowly over time in harmony with whatever stage their life is at.

11. There Are No Rules

We mean it. Rules are made to be broken when in search of a French-inspired home. Don't spend hours upon hours getting caught up in what shade of navy will work best with your mustard armchair. Use your instincts!

Just Moved In? This French Girl Guide to Décor Is for You

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