How To Turn Your Space into a Chic Parisian Living Room

It’s that loose and thrown together look that somehow can be difficult to create: Parisian chic. It’s often mentioned with regard to fashion, but it also holds true in interior decorating. Parisian homes have that hard-to-describe quality of being casual and eclectic but with an air of sophistication that defies explanation. While it might be hard to quantify, there are certain elements that are characteristic of Parisian living rooms. Incorporating these into your own living space can go a long way toward creating that look of effortless chic — which is not always effortless to achieve.

Old Meets New

With Parisian living rooms, part of the appeal is that they most certainly do not look like a page from a catalog. Not everything matches, and it did not all come from one source. Sure, there might be an Ikea piece included somewhere, but the perfect formula is a mix of old and new. All the furniture doesn’t come from one store or style and although the decor might seem a little sparse compared to the average American living room, it has plenty of personality. By mixing new furnishing with hand-me-downs and better vintage items, along with beloved accessories that each have a story of their own, a Parisian living room has a depth of character and style no room full of new furniture can ever convey.

Standout Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, you are well on your way to a Parisian living room. The key is to turn it into a major standout feature. A distinctive surround and stylish mantel elevate a plain fireplace to a new level. Topping it off large mirror — another common element in Parisian decor — completes the look. Molding, trim and a raised embellishment add to the overall ambiance. Assess your own fireplace and see what elements you can switch out for a chicer focal point.

White Walls

For a truly Parisian room, white walls are a critical element. You don’t often see color on the walls in a Parisian home. The combination of high ceilings — if you have them — and all-white walls make the space feel light, airy and classic, no matter what else is in the room. The use of bold colors is restrained and limited to perhaps one major piece of furniture, artwork or accent pieces.

Hardwood Parquet Floor

Wood floors are a classic choice and parquet style is decidedly Parisian. Wood pairs with any colors and types of decor, while the parquet design adds a little restrained flair to the floor. Different types of parquet are suitable, from smaller wood sections to the larger design pictured here. Parquet provides a rich, warm base for the room, especially when all the walls are white. If a bare wood floor is not for you, adding a chic area rug is also common in Parisian living rooms.{image from daphneserrado}.

Detailed Moldings

Another classic element for a Parisian living room is decorative molding, both large and small. These can be included wherever you like: crowning the walls, above the baseboards, around the fireplace or on the ceiling. The point is to dress up the walls in a neutral way that adds character and doesn’t limit the decorating potential. Whether or not you use moldings on the ceiling, a ceiling medallion is the ideal accent for highlighting another must-have element on our list: a chandelier! The moldings you choose can be straight and streamlined, or more ornate, whatever fits your personal style.{image from huntsmore}.

Artwork at Center Stage

One of the best features of Parisian decor is how it mixes antiques with more modernist pieces like artwork. If you love modern art, a Parisian living room is a perfect place to use it along with vintage furnishings. Prefer modern furniture?  Then try adding pieces of vintage art that hark back to an older era. In either case, make sure that the art is front and center of everyone’s attention in the room. This will have the biggest impact that will truly make the space feel like it could be in a Paris apartment!

The Chandelier is a Must

Leave it to the Parisians to bring the chandelier out of dining rooms and ballrooms and into everyday living rooms. A chandelier in the living room will not only add an air of Parisian sophistication to the room, but it can also help balance the decor in the room. If the furniture is modern and the room relies on other elements for an antique touch, a grand vintage chandelier — or at least one that looks like it could be vintage — can flavor the room in the correct way.  If the living room is dominated by older pieces of furniture, a more modern chandelier can make the space feel like the right French mix. When picking a chandelier for a Parisian living room it’s good to remember one thing: Crystal is never a bad choice.

A Daybed or Chaise

Another piece that will add that “je ne sais quoi” French flair to the living room is a daybed or chaise. This piece might have its origins in ancient Rome and Greece, but it’s a silhouette commonly associated with France. Incorporating one of these into the living room decor adds instant chic that’s truly hard to define. The piece is super functional because it’s more than a chair but somehow more sophisticated and relaxed than a sofa. Whether it’s used for napping, lounging or guest seating, it has a Parisian ambiance that’s not frequently found in a typical living room.

Whitewashed Furnishings

A sense of graceful aging is key to achieving the right look for a Parisian living room. If the budget doesn’t allow for real antiques or special vintage pieces, try adding a select whitewashed piece of furniture or two. Since the concept of mixing it up is key, you don’t want too much matching furniture beyond a couple of chairs, perhaps. Adding in an eclectic whitewashed piece that includes a bit of flair such as curved legs or a scalloped edge helps convey the right feeling.

Vintage. Period.

A sure fire way to get the right feeling of age for a Parisian living room is to include vintage pieces, and a couple of accessories won’t do the trick. A couple of major pieces — be they chairs, a sofa or a massive aged mirror — can help lay the foundation for a stand-out space. The type of vintage pieces are entirely up to personal preference. Some mid-century modern chairs alongside a chest with an aged French provincial silhouette is an example of the mix-up that is required for the “effortless” look that’s desired.

Be Bold.

While the overall color palette of the typical Parisian living room is generally white or off-white and you won’t find any shockingly bright colors on the walls or all the upholstered pieces, it is possible to include something bold. The easiest path to bold flair is to choose something that might not usually be seen in a bright color, just a couple of accessories in a bold hue, or great piece of art. Here, an artisan side table done in ombre layers of pink would be just small enough to add a color without dominating the require serene palette.

Add Windowboxes

While most homes don’t have a Parisian-style balcony outside the living room window, it’s certainly possible to fake the feeling. Adding window boxes outside the living room windows can enhance the Parisian vibe, especially in the warmer months when you fling the windows open and let those flowy floor-length drapes billow. If the room happens to have a terrace or deck, going all out with pots and deck rail planters can make it feel more Parisian, along with bistro-like patio furniture.

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