There’s a certain chicness about a Parisian home that’s so effortless, even the most haphazardly strewn items seem decidedly curated. It’s that je ne sais quoi that comes second nature to the French.
Designing a quintessentially French space is about elegance, a sense of the spectacular, and creating a warm and cozy atmosphere, says Paris-based interior and furniture designer Aline Hazarian, who works with clients who are leaders in international business and finance, and who is known for her striking and sophisticated interiors.
“The best way to achieve this is to always mix the old with the new, and be fearless in your design choices,” she says.
Below, Hazarian’s design tips.
Play Up History
“I adore incorporating French 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century influences in unexpected ways so that the interiors maintain comfort and livability,” Hazarian says. She allows her spaces to reflect the former glory of a Parisian apartment by highlighting elements that existed previously, “such as the chimney, the plaster on the wall ornaments, and the parquet floors.”
Mix Time Periods
“It is very modern and French to mix pieces from a wide array of periods and styles in a balanced and harmonious way,” Hazarian says. The pieces, she says, should resonate with you: “Perhaps a piece that reminds you of a favorite destination or time period. The furniture needs to function for the space and reflect your personality.”
Plus, she says, “It’s important not to overdo any one style or incorporate too many elements. We want rooms that always feel fresh and modern when you are in them.”
Harmonious flow from one room to the next is key. At the same time, Hazarian says, “You do want rooms to be independent from one space to the next—it’s a delicate balance.” Using the same flooring throughout can be a good way to achieve flow, she says.
Provide Unexpected Pops
Hazarian recommends using natural, earth-tone colors throughout the space, since they provide a “great radiant warmth.” Then you can add in more touches of color. For example, Hazarian uses neutral colors, mainly whites, for upholstery fabrics, then incorporates more-vibrant colors for damask draperies in the dining room, adding fresh bouquets of flowers for a pop of color in rooms throughout a space.
Let Lighting Shine
Lighting is an essential component in terms of creating mood and ambience. “The architecture in Parisian-style residences typically features quite elaborate ceilings, so I recommend incorporating dramatic floor lamps, table lamps, and wall sconces, which will brighten a room even when not illuminated,” Hazarian says. She also says that including at least one spectacular chandelier in an interior is a must, “especially in the dining room or any room where romance and glamour are part of the ambiance and function of the room.”
Sconces are a great way to illuminate hallways, staircases, and rooms.
Focus on Furniture
“For me, the furniture era that defines a Parisian-chic home is the 20th-century French Art Deco period,” Hazarian says, noting that this period’s designers—including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean Michel Frank, Andre Arbus, and Jacques Adnet—created interiors and furnishings that were the epitome of sophisticated simplicity. While she says any furniture, either antique or modern, can be incorporated into a Parisian apartment, the use of side tables and occasional tables with different types of chairs is a very French way to decorate.
Curate a Collection
One of the hallmarks of a Parisian-chic interior is the casual, collected-over-time look. Hazarian suggests piling books on the floor and on side chairs, card tables, desks, and accent tables. “Don’t worry about styling books that fit together by theme or size: Blending together different cultures and periods shows the true appreciation of art and design,” she says.
And the French regularly shop for objects—from vases and collectibles to paintings and sculptures—at flea markets, antiques galleries, and art galleries.