French Decor Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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Different Styles & Decorating Tips For a French Decor Themed Home

Elegance combined with practical luxury. Seamlessly joining old and new. Showcasing your personality in the decor. These are some of the foundations of French design.

One of the more personalized design styles, French interior decorating, more than anything, is about creating a home you love. The grounding aesthetics may be bold and rooted in sophistication, but it is also quirky, with original flair. It’s about making the most of everyday routines. Enjoying morning coffee on a sunny porch; relaxing in a claw-footed bath while gazing into antique framed art.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

As an old French saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In relation to decor, trends may come and go, but the basic principles retain their deep roots.



To get a feel for the well-known and the newer designers on the block, check out the links below for inspiration in your French decorating.

  • Jean-Louis Denoit -a French interior designer and architect, Denoit’s interior designs, range from a classical to a contemporary style, impressing with a coherent color pallet, a flawless lighting design, and a statement of some sort. Masterfully combining patterns, textures, materials, and pieces from different periods to achieve a breath-taking elegance.

  • Joseph Dirand- Architect Dirand has a reputation for designing refined and intuitive spaces.
  • Francois Catroux- a top French interior designer that displayed settings with the most amazing neutral and sophisticated tones. He’s recognized for naturally combining modern and vintage trends, giving an authentic touch.
  • Chahan Minassian- has a passion for exquisite materials, rich decors, timeless lines, and sculptural volumes. Chahan lionized design is a celebration of expert craftsmanship with haute couture finishing.



  • Marion Alberge- has a restrained style without clutter, artfully showcasing an antique in each room.
  • Marie-Laure Helmkampf- is distinctly modern French with earthy undertones.
  • Walda Pairon- is an influential Belgian designer who is bold with color and quirky curiosities.
  • Royal Roulotte- the design firm has a bohemian chic signature; their welcoming homes expertly blend antique, mid-century, and modern furnishings.



French Farmhouse Rustic décor accentuates natural elements, as does French Country, but uses wood that is more natural in its look and feel. Farmhouse style uses traditional pieces, adding an injection of freshness, bringing together distressed finishes and second-hand market influenced furniture. The rustic farmhouse components are the basis for the French Country design where some softer more refined elements start to make their way in.


French Country style blends luxurious touches with the rustic look of farmhouse style. Visualize velvet covered distressed wooden chairs, frilly curtains with rough pastel painted window frames. Sconces, chandeliers, and antique tapestries are other such decadent accents. Contrasted with rustic elements like old metal, faded paint, and worn fabrics combine to make a French country interior. It’s the upholstery of French country furniture that will differentiate itself from the rustic farmhouse look.

French country colors range from earth shades with touches of mustard yellow and warm red, to cornflower blues and deep oranges.

French country furniture lines are gently curved; nothing is overly ornate. Usually made of natural materials, and low sheen finishes, the feel is flowing, languid and subtle elegance.

French Country Contemporary incorporates wood elements, flooring and frames, contrasted against neutral walls and darker pieces of furniture. Throw in plenty of mismatched seating for easy entertaining, be it casual or dinner party-style.

French Provincial interior design again relies on country farmhouses foundations with the inclusion of opulent items relieved from the residences and castles of the affluent during the French Revolution. French provincial ranges from the rustic to the opulent, mixing rustic, weathered patinas with crystal chandeliers and gold textured accents.

Classic French interior design is covered in embellished wallpapers and complex moulding on ceilings, paying particular homage to the history of the architecture and highlighting its nuances. Magnificent chandeliers and feature lighting add a touch of flair in this style.

French Parisian style home décor has many of the same elements that make up French country, with additional Bohemian charm. Oversized mirrors, walls with shades of white, books doubling as pieces of adornment are part of ‘Paris Boho style interior’. This very eclectic style includes elements from Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassical periods as well.

Modern French
homes are defined by effortless sophistication, the ease with which all French life seems to exude. An effective merge of the old with the new continues to describe the French style in all aspects, including interior decor. Part of modern French decorating is to deviate from the neutral color palette. The classic all-white interior is taken over by bolder colors in contemporary French design.

French fabrics can range from subtle patterns on cotton and linens for upholstery or take the opposite direction and choose luxurious fabrics like velvet, brocade, silk, and lace. It comes down to your taste and personality.

French-style wallpaper takes inspiration from nature and turns it into metallic or rustic florals patterns, ranging from the flamboyant to sober.

French-style bedding rests on texture and feel against your skin, choosing soft quilts, comforters, or duvet sets. Accessorize with blanket throws and coverlets for added texture and ease.

French interior doors are used more often than doors in other design styles. Placed to segregate two zones, allowing for extra privacy They can be found separating a dining room and a kitchen or living room.


Reuse & Recycle

One rule to follow along with the French ways of decorating is to take the time to find the right piece, by any means. This generally includes looking in many second hand shops to find the perfect item. The feeling is that it is important to decorate in a sustainable and ecological way, and reusing and upcycling are part of the decoration process.

Mix Old & New

A French family going back generations will most likely have at least one significant art object that can become a showstopper in any room, especially spaces with a modern flair. Find your own ‘wow’ vintage décor piece in antique stores and second hand shops. Playing off the old with the new is a foolproof French design trick. One gorgeous French antique can completely transform any room done in this decorating style.

Feature Wall

  • Add distinctive French patterns from the more extravagant era.
  • Fleur-de-lys pattern is iconic French culture.
  • Another bold regal décor option is Baroque or Rococo designed wallpaper.
  • Or try a muted vintage look with Toile de Jouy, featuring pastoral scenes on a light background.
  • Damask patterns are traditional and contemporary at the same time.

Summary of French Decorating Do’s & Don'ts

  • Do use simple, natural fabrics: linen, cotton, cheesecloth.
  • Do leave a bare wall.
  • Do share your memories and treasures in shaping the space rather than sticking to any particular interior style.
  • Do be bold and unconventional; combine curves with clean, modern lines.
  • Do remember the ceiling and plan to make it more interesting. French style goes beyond flat, white paint.
  • Do add something gilded or shiny to the décor.
  • Don’t hold yourself back when decorating the bedroom. A French bedroom is a retreat that’s a pleasure to retire to.
  • Don’t overload on Louis XV pieces; allow one to stand out by pairing it with something completely contrasting, like a modern or minimalist piece of furniture.
  • Don’t go overboard with frills, ruffles, tassels, fringes, or floral fabrics.
  • Don’t shy away from introducing one spectacular element like an extravagant, large-scale work of art or an oversized piece of furniture.
  • Don’t try too hard; French interiors are never too curated or too perfect.



Reflect On The French Lifestyle

French interiors are equally about design and lifestyle. The effortless appearance has been planned to accommodate the way you move from room to room. Areas to lounge, creative storage, simplicity of functional spaces, all to make daily life flow smoothly. Good French decor can only exist if the space is well thought-out in terms of use. From the furniture to the aesthetics, it should all have a function. The decor is there to reflect the personality and life of its occupants. It's better to have fewer elements in a room, like beautiful vintage pieces or handcrafted objects, than too much of a good thing.


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