As you are reading this blogpost, I am spending a week in Paris with my soon-to-be sixteen year old daughter. It will be her first visit and my umpteenth – I used to live in Paris for three years, before I moved to New York in the early nineties. I am so excited to show her all my favorite places: hole-in-the-wall restaurants, quaint flea markets, amazing musea, glamorous boutiques.... But more than anything else, I want her to get a sense of everyday living in this amazing city. There is such an understated chic and flair that pervades every aspect of Parisian life: the paper-wrapped baguettes and tiny café au lait cups in the morning, the impeccable sales staff in the grands magasins and the noisy oyster merchants unloading their wares at five in the morning, the long linen aprons of the waiters at Cafe Flore and the unexpected fashion finds at Monoprix... That's the real Paris for me, and I can't wait to soak it all up again. So what better time for a Paris-inspired blogpost? Here are a few key elements for injecting some Paris chic into your own home:
Gingham - Ever since Brigitte Bardot got married in a pink gingham dress, these two-toned checks have been quintessentially French. Crisp and fresh, they are always in style, no matter what color you choose. The French are not wrong about these things.
Molding - No Paris apartment or hôtel particulier is complete without decorative crown molding, paneling and plaster ceiling medallions. The key is to paint it all white, for a timeless, modern look.
Antiques - Take full advantage of the personality and character of a few choice antiques: a vintage oil, crystal chandelier, gilt-frame mirror. Don't go overboard, make a careful edit of the strongest pieces and give each item room to breathe.
Parquet de Versailles - Designed in 1684 to glamorize the Versailles palace’s rooms, this traditional French style with square panels and interlaced diagonals can be found in the most prestigious French homes. I personally think it looks best when the wood is bleached and stripped of any varnish or finish.
Lit à la polonaise - Named after Louis XV's Polish queen, lit à la polonaise literally means Polish Bed. This cozy canopy bed, draped with yards and yards of your favorite fabric, is the ultimate bed for romance, beauty and 18th century elegance.
Toile de Jouy - Originating in eighteenth century France – mais bien sûr! – these finely detailed cloths depicting scenic landscapes and decorative motifs have earned their place in the classic decorator's vernacular. Timeless and chic, for a little touch of Versailles in your own home.
And now were putting it all together: note how all design elements are offset by lots of white, so nothing feels to fussy or contrived. Bonne journée!