Add French Touches to Interiors


French style is romantic, classic, graceful and timeless. You can spot it in books, magazines and films. You may not be able to live in Paris, surrounded by French architecture, but you can bring the chic touch of Paris into your home.

I attended a Mardi Gras brunch called Mascarade en Noir et Blanc, La Cuisine du Coeur. From the food to the table decorations, this French style event was visually beautiful and design coordinated, as well as delicious. Even the guests were requested to wear clothing colors of noir (black) and blanc (white). I was inspired to find out what decorating touches transform a room into Parisian elegance.

Gold and gilded touches accent furniture, accessories and architectural details. Brass finishes on doorknobs, hinges and drawer pulls add extra glimmer. Any kind of accessory with gold accents will blend right into your décor.

For color, beautiful hues range from jewel tones to pale oyster, ivory and white. Black is always part of a Parisian interior. Street cafes and homes all have plenty of black color in iron railings, chairs, tables or planter boxes on terraces. For the more daring, go for deep rich navy, burgundy or black shiny lacquer which gives the feel of a lavish Paris salon.

Rich silk, brocades and velvet are all classic fabrics in Parisian style. These are best on deeply-carved wood furniture in walnut tones. Uniquely Parisian fabrics are toiles with French scenes.

Try using fabrics to enclose rooms or outline the entry into a room. Tie large and small tassels to doorknobs, keys to a writing desk or the pull of a dresser drawer.

The right Parisian-style accessories are key. The most quintessential is the chandelier. Classic chandeliers, lush with crystals, recall the glitter of the Champs-Elysees.

Certain styles of furniture add Parisian flavor to a room design. The bombe chest or commode is standard. These large dresser type pieces are often used in foyers, halls and living rooms. Woven cane backed chairs are also a Paris classic.

A chiming mantel clock is also found in many Parisian homes. Search flea markets or swap shops for these. For more tips on French style, check home design centers that stock plenty of accessories that all speak Parisian style.


About Karen Carpino

Karen Carpino is an interior designer and founder of Chicago-based Karen Carpino Design. A professionally registered interior designer with over 25 years of experience, Ms. Carpino's clientele includes both residential and commercial projects. She brings you techniques, trends and tips in “Style At Home.”