design trick

7 Tips to Style Your Interior Like a Parisian

Paris je t'aime

Being French, I often hear about the style French people naturally have (that I find funny as not EVERY French person has style, to be honest). My personal explanation on this is the fact that as a culture, Frenchies search for beauty everywhere: walk into a supermarket and you will notice how beautiful even water bottles are. So let's face it: when beauty is everywhere you look at growing up, I think you naturally develop a sense of aesthetic for the rest of your life. 

Then you get the chance to live in Paris, one of those few cities in the world that benefits from a special aura: its streets and monuments appear in so many movies that everyone has been at least once (in reality or in their dreams). And again: everywhere you look, it is simply beautiful - which is probably why designers of all disciplines gravitate towards that city for inspiration. In term of interior design, due to its architecture and light, one can easily recognize a Parisian apartment from a New York one: ornate plaster work with all white walls and herringbone floors - and this is often why people feel they cannot even try to achieve this look. This is where I think people get it wrong: below is a list of what I think can contribute to achieving a Parisian chic in New York City:

1- Wall color: Paris is a very dense and compact city which means a lot of apartment are pretty dark, to begin with. Plus, gray sky and rain are actually pretty common compared to New York City, that's why most Parisian apartments are painted white to capture as much light as possible. Painting fully white in New York means your space will easily look washed out (see our color consultation story here). The solution? Add an undertone to your white paint to mute a little bit the light of your walls while keeping the chic of a Parisian interior. 

2- Moldings, trims and nooks: let's be honest on this one: if your apartment is brand new, adding fake roses on your ceiling will just look like what it is: fake. So do not even bother. Instead, consider what the New York architecture has on offer: former tenement buildings, pre-wars or brownstones offer fantastic moldings on walls, even woodwork that can not be found anywhere else. I have noticed New Yorkers tend to view nooks as wasted storage space - if you belong to that category of people, think again: how you would view those nooks should they be in your hotel room in Paris? You would most likely think there are charming and cute, deserving to be displayed to everyone. Apply the same rule to your own interior and use them to show off something you like.

Typical Parisian apartment for  Elle Décoration

Typical Parisian apartment for Elle Décoration

3- Floor: very few apartments in New York offer herringbone floors and honestly, nice parquet floors can be noisy - that is why Parisian tend to cover it with rugs, which can help you too, achieve a more Parisian look. Go for Persian or Morrocan rugs (lovely selection by Apartment Therapy here) that grow old really well and work with each and every style. 

4- Using iron: as charming as there are, let's be frank: Parisian balconies are useless. But the iron work around it is so special that it does not matter. Same goes for the elevator door in the hallway: you can barely fit in with your grocery shopping but they add an incredible je-ne-sais-quoi. In New York City, you have fire escape but forget about the metal work quality: I would not step on most of them (especially as I have no idea how to actually reach the bottom... Jump?). Instead, our recommendation is to get some little iron accents in your interior: cute little chairs in your kitchen (like the ice-cream parlor ones you can easily find in the US), small accent tables - possibilities are endless.

5- Antiques, vintage pieces, and modern mix: before the era of mass-consumerism started, French people used to invest in very expensive furniture that future generations eventually inherited. That is why the general style of Parisian apartments is often a mix and match of styles, combining family heirlooms with brand new, modern stuff. Students in France do not necessarily rush to Ikea when they move to University: they often collect and re-purpose stuff given by family members and this is where their story with design begins (if not before). If you have not inherited from anyone, flea markets are a great opportunity to search for antiques and vintage stuff and build your own collection (if you do not already know it, check out the Brooklyn Flea Market). Do not try to get things to match (like wooden shades for instance): get one item in dark wood, another in light wood, a nice golden frame - you get the idea.

6- Exhibit your books: probably due to the fact books are pretty cheap in France, books and bookshelves are frequently the starting point of room designs. Even small apartment owners or renters figure out storage solution that gives easy access to their collection: in living rooms, bedrooms, entryways - in each or all areas depending on how many books you own. French paperbacks often come with white spines which also facilitates arranging them (but does not offer the color arrangement possibility that was so trendy last year). So go on, show off your books!

French literature for an all white library - check it out  here .

French literature for an all white library - check it out here.

7- Freshness: this one is more of a concept than an actual thing. France is known for the baguette and people often buy their own every day (you can buy only one half) - which means there is always something fresh in the kitchen on a daily basis. I know it would be difficult for New Yorkers to pick up that habit - especially if it involves making a big detour to get one. Instead, I would recommend trying to grow your own herbs on your kitchen counter - if you do not have green thumbs, getting flowers on Thursdays or Fridays so you can enjoy the scent and beautiful sight of fresh flowers when coming home on the weekend. It will give your interior a renewed fresh touch at all times - and pick red roses can be viewed as a subliminal message from the city of Love. <3

 

Lastly, if you need help adding touches of Paris in your home, do contact us to discuss.

October Treat (no trick!) of the Trade: DYI Artworks

At Maison KoduZen, we have noticed along the years that artworks are either what lead the decoration process as the starting points - OR come in at the very end, along with accessories and other finishing touches to complement what is already in place. Either way is fine by us as both approaches get great results.

Now, if you are finishing with artwork you also have to pick something that works well with your design: colors, style, patterns, overall design and... Budget. And this is where things get complicated: you may have splurged on that particular sofa, thinking you would cut down on other areas of your budget - and more often than not, you did not cut on budget anywhere else and you end up with very little to spend on the final touches: accessories and artworks. The good news for accessories is that it can be reasonably cheap so you can buy little by little over the next coming months - but artwork can come in at a high price.

So we thought, we would give you a little 'treat of the trade' for this month of October with a method to create stylish and cheap(ish) artwork you can hang until you have secured more funds for proper artwork purchases or keep for ever if you like it (some fabrics are not that cheap and you may just want to keep it).

STEP 1: The basic criteria when picking artwork - whether at the beginning or at the end of the process is the size, so it fits the area where it will be on display - which can already be rather difficult. The basic thing to do here is to check with a piece of artwork you already owned, get someone to hold it on your wall so you can establish how much larger (or smaller) the new piece needs to be in comparison - and how high it should be on your wall. Once you have determined this, make your way to an art store and purchase a canvas the size you need - or simply the wood trims you will assemble yourself with glue and some nails to create your frame. 

STEP 2: Go online and browse various fabric stores (yes, fabrics. We have put our listings below) to find one pattern you truly like. Be mindful to filter by width so only one piece will be sufficient to cover your frame: unless you are a sewing master, assembling pieces without messing up the pattern can be a real headache. If you have the chance, we recommend to go to the store itself to check how the color and pattern actually look like for real - as at times there might be a difference. We recommend selecting patterns that can easily be mistaken for paintings for best results.

NOTE 1: Be careful with the fabric you pick: velvets, leathers and sturdy interior/upholstery fabrics do the job rather well but avoid at all costs stretchy materials and delicate ones that will rip easily. You can also select severals to layer on top of each others if you feel creative!

NOTE 2: You can do the same with wallpaper for small artworks if you like but width options can be limited.

STEP 3: Once you have bought your fabric, get a large upholstery stapler and align the pattern perfectly with one edge of your frame/canvas before stapling it onto the wood. Do the same thing with the opposite side, then with either perpendicular sides. Be careful to stretch the fabric as much as possible when you staple it to make sure it does not get wrinkled anywhere as it can ruin your pattern and give away the trick. 

Below is a short selection of fabric stores where we would typically go for searching artwork options. (this is a really short selection, in alphabetical order, offering a wide range of styles and colors - feel free to suggest your own in the comment section). 

Designer's Guild

Ikea (yes, Ikea: they actually have a very cool option here)

Kathryn Ireland

Kvadrat

Liberty of London

Marimekko 

Mood Fabric

Have fun creating artwork and do not hesitate to share your own favorite fabric stores and the results of your artworks!