The French author and filmmaker Jean Cocteau said “Style is a simple way of saying complicated things”. French interiors may bring to mind luxury heirlooms and eclectic taste, but above all, what French design stands out for is simplicity. Fortunately, this means mastering French style needn’t be difficult. Here’s how you can turn your home into a veritable pièce de résistance.
According to The Wall Street Journal, French women need only five items in their wardrobes. Adopt this mentality for your interiors too. Start by paring back your decoration and focusing on a few key elements, such as an antique chair, a work of art, or some well chosen contemporary furnishings. By cutting out what you don’t need, you can curate a more personalised look around the pieces that are meaningful to you.
Keep the colours chic but simple
To best show off your selected design pieces, adopt a neutral colour scheme throughout the room. Focus on complementary shades that will sit well together and create a relaxed atmosphere – calming greens and warm creams work well. By creating a simple backdrop, your carefully curated furnishings and unique decorative touches can do all the talking.
Mix and match
French interiors often mix classic and contemporary furniture. This is hardly surprising – with such a rich history of furniture design as well as one of the most avant-garde contemporary design cultures in Europe, there are plenty of styles to chose from. Mixing classic and contemporary allows French interiors to celebrate the full possibilities of French design, so have fun and experiment with old and new until you find the perfect combination.
Constance Gennari, the Parisian founder of The Socialite Family – a website featuring the homes of ordinary French families, stated that the main difference between French and American style is that there is more perfectionism in American style than French. According to Gennari, French design is much more likely to embrace family heirlooms, whereas American style dictates that newer is always better. Reupholstering an antique chair is a great way to update an otherwise tired heirloom. Such unique pieces instantly add character to a room.
Fill your bookshelf
In the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, “A room without books is like a body without soul”. Given France’s formidable literary history, no French-inspired room would be complete without a tome or two. Not only do books say a lot about who you are, they’re also an easy way to add character and colour to your home without lifting a paintbrush. Watch as your favourite editions become a talking point at your next dinner party.
If you’re looking for a new home, perhaps even one in France, contact your local Engel & Völkers shop today. Our experienced agents are in the perfectly placed to guide you through our extensive range of exclusive properties and help you find your new joie de vivre.