5 Decorating Lessons We Learned from the Queen of French Style
Parisian chic at home.
Published Aug 5, 2019 6:31 PM
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For the uninitiated, Inès Marie Lætitia Églantine Isabelle de Seignard de La Fressange (say that three times fast) is a veritable French icon of style and beauty. A model, aristocrat, style icon, fashion designer, perfumer, and author—a resume that rivals her name in length—she is most well known on this side of the pond as the author of Parisian Chic, a Style Guide, a New York Times bestseller published in 2010.
For years after its launch, her book—which details her well-kept secrets of how Parisian women maintain effortless and timeless style—became a bible of sorts that defined everything French. Now, de la Fressange is looking to parlay the success of her book on French style into interiors with her new tome Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, launched earlier this year. What make Parisian homes so eye-catching? How can you achieve their effortless high-style yet lived-in nature? What are small easy to replicate tips to get the coveted look in your own space?
These are just a few of the questions de la Fressange and her co-author, Marin Montagut, attempt to answer by taking readers into the homes of 15 French creatives. Complete with extensive photographs, watercolor illustrations, mood boards, color palettes, and practical advice, this book is bound to become another de la Fressange bible. Here is just a glimpse at some of the lessons we learned.
Stick to the Classics
A monochrome palette, iconic modern furniture—if there’s one thing that Daniel Rozensztroch knows, it’s that classics never go out of style. “He never tires of scouring secondhand stores, garage sales, flea markets, hardware stores, and bazaars the world over.”
The artistic director of the concept store Merci in Paris applied his discerning eye to this Gustave Eiffel townhouse, combining personal mementos with design classics—a Eero Saarinen table, a Mantis BS3 lamp, a Paola Navone Ghost sofa—that pay homage to the infamous architect. “Black on black or white on white—the perfectly monochromatic palette is enhanced by a touch of red from an industrial-style faucet.”
The Lesson: Pay attention to your home’s architecture and history and use it to inspire your design, but don’t keep this method from adding your own personal touch: family heirlooms, personal collections, flea market finds.
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Set the Scene
“Against a backdrop of white and “English green” walls, Marin creates his tableaux,” says de la Fressange of designer Marin Montague’s 516-square-feet Paris apartment near the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin. She argues that the right paint color has the ability to make personal collections shine: vintage oil paintings, candle groupings, miscellaneous antique finds.
“Inspired by his visits to flea markets around the world and the antiques markets of his beloved Normandy, he has completely revamped his apartment of 516 square feet to surround himself with his treasures so that he can enjoy them at all times.”
The Lesson: Try painting a wall in your favorite muted hue, and use it to display a personal collection—be it coffee table books, hand-thrown ceramics, or scented candles.
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Shun the Showroom Look
Once a hotel, Ines de la Fressange’s Parisian home evokes charm and playfulness, all cast in a light pink hue. “Ines loves pink because it casts an attractive glow that is flattering for all complexions,” explains Marin Montagut.
“Light pinkish-beige paint gives the impression that the walls have been tinted by the smoke of the wood fire. To avoid the conventional and embrace the unexpected, a “ramshackle” style has been created using mismatched chairs, picked up here and there and repainted in different colors.”
The Lesson: Embrace mismatched furniture, don’t take décor too seriously, and paint everything pink if you want to appear to be glowing from the inside!
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“A broad palette of green tones brings the great outdoors into the interior of this apartment belonging to Ariane Dalle, artistic director of prestigious fabric brands Manuel Canovas and Larsen, who was inspired by happy childhood memories of Provençal landscapes,” muses de la Fressange.
Green hues are omnipresent in the 861-square-foot apartment but it’s in painting only certain portions of the walls that Dalle creates the illusion of depth. “Showcase your collection of tiny treasures by painting the wall a dark color to create depth and volume.”
The Lesson: No need to paint an entire wall—just a portion of the wall, the back of a bookcase, or the inside a closet—displayed with a collection of favorite objects will add dimension to your space.
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Fence It In
Paris balconies are world-famous so it’s only natural to take advantage of their beauty. This is something that Zoé de Las Cases and her partner understood when they moved into this charming Parisian duplex. “Even if the building opposite overlooks your apartment, in Paris you can be sure that no one is peering in. Nevertheless, a terrace should be regarded as an independent living and entertaining space,” explains de la Fressange.
“Adding a protective wooden screen means you can grow ivy or clematis along it to create a secret place high above the city. Bistro chairs, stools, and wooden benches—it takes just a few items to create a hint of luxury. The cushions covered with ethnic fabrics by Tensira evoke happy trips to far-flung places.”
The Lesson: Treat your outdoor space as well as your décor—no matter how small. With a few vintage finds and plants, you can create your own little oasis of privacy.
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