Soaring mouldings, perfectly petite (and quirky) layouts, and that inimitable pale morning light are just some of the reasons we’re forever looking to Parisian apartments for inspiration on making a place chic—with little effort. French interior designer Maude Kraska exemplifies this approach. Her space is an inspired play on proportions, color, and a few surrealist touches for good measure. “I prefer to use unexpected elements rather than erase them,” she says. “I’m actually very inspired by obstacles, and I wouldn’t know what to do in front of a smooth, all-white wall!” Here, she shares a few ideas on how to create vignettes in your home.
Kraska traced a thin black line and a cream band around the room to add depth to the otherwise all-white space. The moulding also doubles as a picture stand. “An energetic and well-balanced layout is my main goal,” she says. “This is perhaps because I grew up surrounded by painters and photographers; composition is an obsession for them.”
Balancing color in simple ways, like the orange lamp and framed print here, connect the objects and bring the room together.
“I like to see a wall like a big sheet of paper, which has allowed me to place everything where I want without any conventional decoration codes,” explains Kraska of the several corners in her home that feature low-to-the-ground pieces, like this metal light and art work. “I don’t really measure. I look at the location, I hang it, and if the effect isn’t good, I play around more with the placement,” she says. “I also like the idea of having two points of view when decorating: sitting and standing.” The framed spider was chosen for its small size and graphic effect—as well as being a nod to Kraska’s grandmother, who would ask tenants to keep a spider to better control the insects.
The bookcase in the living room is a compilation of meaningful souvenirs. “There is part of my collection of J. H. Chase books; I love the way they were translated with a lot of old-fashioned French expressions. The Louise Brooks portrait was in my closet growing up and my mother used to cut my hair in the same way—I still have the look now! She also quickly made the couple out of champagne wire caps to put on our wedding cake. My brother-in-law created the lithography… In fact, almost all the pieces of art are from our friends and family,” says Kraska.
“My husband and I bought the two little portraits in Soho, which look quite a lot like us! The on est vivant postcard is by Agnès B. With this really simple sentence, we’re always reminded of the essential.”
“These awkward spaces between all the chimney pipes are typical of old Parisian apartments. Most of the time owners decide to hide them, but they are actually useful. Creating lines is a perfect way to calm any strange obstacles in a place. They bring serenity.”
“This collage started when I needed to quickly hide a nail hole in the wall. I started putting up some images around a water theme, with the central piece being the perfect symbol of femininity and beauty: Chanel.” We also love the DIY gold band painted around the room, adding adds a bit of glamour to a space you might otherwise leave quite all-white.
“I just put that little basket on the bench, not knowing what its function would be. I placed a light bulb there one time and somehow another bulb got stashed, until the effect was so good I decided to keep them all in the basket. Now I have an “air-rium”—like little reserves of air from that mountain scene just behind.”
“I didn’t renovate the apartment’s electricity just to keep these boxes! The two TV pictures are a wedding gift from a good friend, the wonderful artist J Rabascall. I thought they perfectly matched with all their ‘screens.’”
“This is typical of a 19th-century Parisian apartment. (My building is 200 years old, but the veranda is newer—at the beginning there was no direct access between the apartment and the kitchen!) I really love the color and texture of the tiles, so I decided to keep them. In the same spirit, I removed the paint on the walls to find the original color—an amazing aqua green blue. I also rediscovered the tiles of the backsplash and kept them to preserve a country home spirit. I chose this pink lamp to bring a cosy, warm light at night and to accentuate the fading side of the old red (almost dark pink) floor.”