Décor Confidential: 9 Tips to Get That Parisian Décor Je Ne Sais Quoi on a Budget

The French have a way with just about everything, but we love their effortless ability to decorate their home. Here are nine tips that will help you beautify your space—just like a Parisian—on a budget.
  1. Mix the Old With the New

    Photo by Living in Provence/Taschen

    The Francophile fashion is to mix traditional furniture pieces with very modern elements, such as a Louis XIV chair next to a Lucite table. It may seem challenging to get it right, but in fact, letting older pieces you have mingle with contemporary purchases is a natural way to showcase every aspect of your personality, without having to spend a fortune.

  2. Keep the Walls White

    Photo by Farrow & Ball

    Yes, Parisians love rich colors, but the city’s antique ancient buildings with very small windows means you need to let in some light. Keep your home airy by sticking to simple gallery white walls. You can still add in color elsewhere, but a bright white wall will open up the space. Not to mention, it’s inexpensive, given that most rentals come in a shade of parchment. 

  3. Go for Vintage

    Photo by Porch.com

    For a fun way to add personality while keeping costs down, go vintage! Bring your bestie to a local flea market or estate sale and scoop up some curious knickknacks that will add a touch of charming je ne sais quoi to your home. 

  4. Invest in a Rug

    Photo by West Elm

    Remember: Parisian apartments are old, tiny and dark, meaning they’re also typically chilly. One investment you can make is in a timeless rug to add color and warmth to your favorite room. You don’t have to go overboard on the budget too—there are many sources for finding your spirit rug, like NuLoom, Fab or West Elm. We particularly love a vintage-looking kilim rug with a French-Moroccan fusion. 

  5. Hang a Chandelier

    Photo by Etsy

    Another addition to your home that you can invest in is a crystal chandelier, and with online sources like Etsy or your local flea market, you can find a great deal on a vintage (or vintage-looking ) style. You can go with anything from one that looks like it hung in Marie Antoinette’s chambers to a super-contemporary chrome version. It all depends on your taste, but either way, a little chandy will add a lot of décor bang for your buck. 

  6. Go for Gray

    Just like the sky above the City of Lights, understated Parisians love a shade of gray. With so many shades to choose from, you can find a hue (or two) that’s right for your home. Even if you keep your walls white, it doesn’t mean that painting your crown molding or doors is out. Try a dove gray on your molding or a dramatic charcoal on your living room fireplace.

  7. Hang Art

    Photo by Exhibition A

    Parisians love portraits, especially of their ancestors, but even if you don’t have a painting of your great-uncle Charles, you still have options. Achieve an eclectic mix by hanging different styles of art—from abstract and traditional to photography and even a portrait of an individual you found in an antique market. Art adds a personal touch unlike any other and will be tres charmant when your guests step foot in your home. Check out Exhibition A, Artsy or Paddle 8 for inexpensive options. 

  8. White Linens

    Photo by Parachute Home

    Not only do white linens give you that fresh hotel look, they’re easy to keep clean as you can use bleach. With so many options out there, you can find bedding that fits your budget and your sleep style.

  9. Interesting Glassware

    Photo by Bliss Home and Design

    Whether or not you have open-air kitchen cabinets or a bar cart, richly colorful glassware that’s out of the norm will give you a French touch. Try ornate Moroccan tea glass or pale pink milk glass for an unexpected playful touch to your home.