The 3 most popular European styles by far are Haussmann, Modern Neo-Classical and Scandinavian, not necessarily in that order. Modern European interior design is a mix of traditional and contemporary design. Contemporary European interiors are understated, with a focus on tactile and natural materials such as wicker, wood, metal, and natural stone.
The Haussmann Style
One of the 3 Most Popular European Styles is Haussmann. Between 1853 and 1870, the private Paris townhouses, the last remains of the 18th century, were starting to make way for rental investment properties, giving rise to a more diverse Paris. To redesign the 175 kilometres of roads that run through the heart of Paris, Baron Haussmann was called in for a project which established an architectural style that is distinctively Parisian.
By the time Haussmann completed his project, narrow, dark residences were a thing of the past. Haussmannian buildings had courtyards or small yards, and they often had bright, dual-aspect apartments with large windows.
The buildings contained independent apartments spread out over five to six floors. Each floor represented a different social class. The ground floor was occupied by shops. On the first floor — often referred to as the mezzanine, lived the merchants who owned the shops below.
The second (“piano nobile”) floor was reserved for the wealthy at the time. The prestigiousness decreases from bottom to top. The third and fourth floors are identical, and were usually reserved for the middle classes. The fifth floors were set back, usually housing the more modest social classes. A little balcony running along the length of the apartment makes up for having to climb to the top of the stairs, besides embellishing the façade. The sixth or top floor is where the “chambres de bonnes” were, for the servants. With lower ceilings and built under the eaves, the only access was by the back stairs.
When lifts were introduced in the early 20th century however, the hierarchy of the floors was reversed. Now, the 5th and 6th floors are the most sought-after as they have an unobstructed view of the rooftops of Paris and a clear view of the horizon that doesn’t have a price.
Bright rooms, wooden floors, fireplaces and fine mouldings are just some of the attractive features of Haussmann apartments. With the exception of the kitchen and WCs, the flooring is almost always wood. The patterns most favored are herringbone, the brick pattern or “parquet de Versailles” motifs.
These gorgeous wooden floors have been the defining characteristic of Parisian interior design through the ages. Additionally these are sometimes complemented by moldings, cornices, and simple or elaborate ceiling medallions. Wider baseboards, wainscoting or chair rail, and/or paneling on the walls adds a distinctive touch.
Decorating the Hausmann Home
The typical Haussmannian style Parisian apartment is decorated in a blend of bold modern accompanied by an old-world refinement nevertheless with an easy flow between the two. Even while maintaining balance, the interior spaces follow the golden rule of – contrast and juxtapose styles, but do not erase them or blur the lines.
Modern Neo-Classical Style
Another one of our 3 Most Popular European Styles is Modern Neo-Classical. The color scheme for Modern Neoclassical interiors is mostly white, cream, gray, pale yellow, blue, green, and other muted hues. However, Black, red, silver and gold are often used as accent colors. Most patterns feature low-contrast palettes.
Decorating the Modern Neoclassical home
Modern Neoclassical Furniture has clean lines and simple symmetry. The style is marked by elegance and timelessness. Having said that, it is more modest compared to Traditional Neoclassical style. Nonetheless, there is an element of luxury in the elegant moldings, metal staircases, carved wood, antiques, and statues – both old and new. Modern Neoclassical homes inspire visions of gathering and family in a more casual, unfussy way while still drawing on the understated opulence of its forbears. A mix of the old and new creates modern zen luxury with traditional roots.
Last but not least of our 3 Most Popular European Styles is the Scandinavian Style. The primary characteristic – whether inspired by an Ikea catalog, or more high-end interiors, is that the style feels clean, crisp, yet calming.
The not-so-secret ingredient is Minimalism.
Scandinavian design emphasizes bright, light, and open spaces, with room to breathe within the space.
Choosing quality over quantity is a major trait of this style.
The other important trait is bringing nature inside.
The color scheme is usually neutral – often white with a pop or two of color that draws from nature – mostly soft blues and greens
Last but not least – clever use of contrast.
What is Hygge?
Some people go for a version of Scandinavian style that is minimal almost to the point of monastic. But keep in mind this is not an invitation to live a Spartan life by any means. The success of this style is in being able to juxtapose the coolness of the white and what may be seen as uninviting clean lines need to be softened to a degree by introducing warmer textures and colors, and what may be defined as hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that roughly translates to cozy togetherness. How do you do Hygge?
Because Scandinavian design doesn’t involve a whole lot of color, a quick way to soften up a space is to introduce plants. One big plant with ample foliage in a minimalist concrete or wood container will do the trick. Another way to introduce coziness is to install a white area rug with a plush pile and add just a couple of pillows in a textured fabric. Add a set of minimalist Roman Shades at the window and you’re all set to hygge away in style.
Photo Credits –
Haussmann Style – Home Office photo courtesy Booking.com | Living Room with Black Velvet Club Chairs and leopard print rug photo courtesy Architectural Digest | Haussmann style Atelier photo Courtesy Financial Times | Modern Neo Classical Style – Living Room with pair of tangerine velvet armchairs photo courtesy designbooks.com | Living Room with pair of white chairs and powder blue coffee table photo courtesy Elle Decor | Scandinavian style – Living Room photo courtesy departures.com | Scandinavian Dining Room photo courtesy – YLighting.com
Before we get started on how to steal a Paris Apartment look for your own home, one thing to keep in mind is that most Parisian apartments start with more than we can hope for in a standard American apartment building – quite a bit more. Most American apartments start with a white box, whereas Parisian apartments already have great bones. Herringbone parquet floors and double windows down to the floor – with French doors – that let in lots of light. Some apartments also have what is know as Trumeau. These are old original mirrors above the fireplace which are found in French châteaux as well as apartments.
So that means we need to pay attention not only to what you put into your room but also what the frame of your room looks like.
….In a Paris apartment – or home – are never plain. If you are in an apartment where you are allowed to re-paint, go for a layered look with a subtle tonal textured paint on the walls. However, avoid the sponge-painted look of the seventies as that may end up looking inauthentic and not Parisian. If you are an expert – try rag glazing. On the other hand, if you are like most of my clients who are not – read on.
For this, you will need:
Two 1/2 gallon cans of paint in two colors
A one-gallon paint can – empty
Step ladder if needed
Buy water-based or latex paint – not oil-based – in two very similar – as in next to each other on the paint deck – shades. Get half a gallon of each – most standard-sized rooms need 1 gallon of paint. I like the look of a flat finish so I would use flat finish for this. Open the can of paint that is a slightly darker color – darker than the other. Using a roller – paint your walls covering them well. Allow to dry. Next, open the can of paint in a lighter color. Thin this down with paint thinner in a half and half ratio – half paint and half thinner. Using a brush, paint over the wall using vertical and horizontal strokes. Do not worry about total coverage and do not worry about brush strokes. Let dry. Cover the entire wall with a top coat of clear acrylic – to make the walls somewhat consistent making it more resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Especially if there are young ones around. This particular paint treatment will give you a bold layered look. That is one way to steal a Paris Apartment style for your own home
Milk Paint or Chalk paint produces a more subtly textured wall. Both paints give amazing rich and complex paint finishes. It comes in powder form and only needs to be mixed in with water so you can monitor how thick or thin you want the mix to be. Thinner coats produce the best results. Chalk paint finishes are thicker and more consistent, whereas milk paint is often less predictable. Milk paint ages beautifully, looking more polished with different levels of sheen.
I like Milk Paint because there are no fumes during use, and is safe enough to go down the kitchen sink. If you want to learn more about using Milk Paint and all it’s advantages – I am going to do a tutorial on it soon, so stay tuned. For now, just know that mixed milk paint goes bad quickly so use it on the day it is mixed, or leave it overnight in the refrigerator and use it the following day. Milk paint soaks into the surface instead of forming a coat as regular latex wall paint does. If you have trouble with the paint not adhering to your previously painted walls, get a bonding agent like Milk Paint Ultra Bond for non-porous surfaces.
Hemp oil is a great top coat for milk paint. The oil gives your walls a darker, rich color and luster. Top coats are optional but they protect paint from moisture and wear and are best for bathroom and kitchens.
Chalk paint can also be mixed to create custom colors. You can uses Annie Sloan, or Websters Chalk Paint. Similar to Milk Paint you can apply this paint with a brush or roller. Brush strokes crate interest and add texture. Chalk paint distresses well.
If you are doing a large room, the price of store-bought chalk paint like Annie Sloan may be prohibitive. However, you can follow my recipe below to create our own home-made substitute for great results.
Home-made Chalk Paint Recipe:
One Cup Latex Paint (flat)
A 1/4 Cup Calcium Carbonate
An eight of a Cup Water
Depending on the size of your room, a gallon of paint could be more than enough. Do not worry about getting every lump out of your mixture, because that is what will give you the streaky look of a Haussman interior – that is my tip number one on how to steal a Paris Apartment style. Annie Sloan has tutorials on Chalk Paint but you do not need them for what we are trying to get done.
If you’re really in the mood for that one-of-a-kind dreamy finish for the walls in your home (time and budget permitting), opt for a lime wash. That is the real thing, but that is a story for another day.
If glazing or lime washing your walls like a Parisian is a no-no – you can think about adding statement-making wainscoting. For a modern take on the wainscoting concept, you can paint one wall of the room in a contrasting color from the rest of the room. Then install a grid pattern batten molding from baseboard to ceiling. It should be painted the same color as the wall where it is going. This is a nice way to create a feature wall – and one of my top tips on how to steal a Paris Apartment. Alternately, you can have batten or wainscoting only half-way up the walls from the baseboard to a chair rail going all around the room. Batten must be the color of the wall. Wainscoting looks best painted white.
However, avoid shiplap – as that will not give you a Parisian or European look. If you are in a home of your own and time and budget allow a remodel, spring for a wider baseboard. Most spec home builders go for the skinniest stock baseboards to avoid ramping up the cost of your home. So if and when you have a chance to add value to your home – as a Designer, one would suggest, go for it,
….Of original herringbone Parquet floors found in most Parisian apartments – cannot be found in most American homes and never in American apartments. However, the look can be substituted with wide plank engineered wood floors, to achieve a similar result. Having said that, if you bought a home and have the time and resources for a new floor, that is awesome. If not, most American landlords will perhaps not give permission to re-do their apartment floor. Nevertheless, we have a fix.
The next thing would be to find out from the landlord if he might allow us to put down stick-on adhesive decorative tiles. Tiles that appropriate the look of French Limestone and slate tiled rooms. Octagon white tiles with smaller corner “cabochon” black tiles in between. That is what all the best Parisian foyers are wearing. Add a black border all around the edge of the room and viola…you’re there….!
Lowes has a peel and stick parquet-look floor as well as Peel and stick versions of tiled limestone and marble floors. You can either go crazy, or restrained, according to your taste and sale. And that is one more way to steal a Paris Apartment. Peel and stick tiles adhere to most vinyl concrete and wood floors. Check the retailer/manufacturer’s instructions.
3) Crown molding
…is a decorative element used for capping cabinets, columns, and, most often, interior walls at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Often, crown molding is created of wood, but in recent years, plastic and foam options have become more readily available. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) versions are popular as well. The latter are more flexible, they paint nicer and they react better to fluctuations in temperature.
Usually, apartments and some newer homes come with a standard 2 ¼-inch casing around windows and doors and a 3 ½-inch baseboard which runs along the bottom of walls and no crown molding.
A modern selection of crown moldings currently available to consumers make it easier than ever to take a room from blah to beautiful. There’s an immediate impact that crown molding brings to a room. For homeowners, it adds value to the home – which is a selling feature. If there are two identical houses next to each other and one has crown molding and the other one doesn’t, the home with the crown molding will be worth more.
Crown molding in both traditional and modern styles are available. Prices for moldings are reasonable and installation time is minimal. A seasoned DIYer should not have a problem installing their own crown moldings using a miter saw. If not, you can always go to Angie’s List and get a guy.
….in Parisian apartments are opulent – both the material and yardage. To get the same look in your home, make sure you measure the windows. When ordering fabric yardage make sure it covers two and a half to three times the width of the window. Also make sure the curtain rod is wider than the window opening. There needs to be space to the left and right of the window opening to stack the curtains when they are open so as to let in light. This is the right way to get that true Parisian feel.
In a room with regular height ceilings, the curtains must hang close to the ceiling – 2-4 inches from crown molding if you have it. Measure to the floor then deduct 1 inch to make sure your curtains wont drag each time you open and close them. If you want your curtains to puddle on the floor in true Parisian style, add 3 to 4 inches to the length. Make a simple diagram of your window and write down inches right and inches left. Measure the window – with trim – and note this number. Next, measure the inches above the window and inches below your window – skip the latter when measuring for French doors or patio doors. Now you are ready to order a window covering that shows off your sense of style – and establishes you as the new master on the subject of how to steal a Paris Apartment…!
5) All that glitters
….isn’t always gold but it does always spell Parisian glamour ….and a little je ne sais quoi. A touch of gold makes the room glisten in the evening light when entertaining with friends and lifts your spirits on quiet nights while enjoying a glass of Prosecco as you mull your next move on how to steal a Paris Apartment.
…especially one or two carefully chosen ones are a Parisian apartment must haves. Traditional antiques in the form of vintage accessory items or place settings, in a modern interior. Alternately have modern antiques such as a pair of chairs, an iconic sofa or a single case-good item or an accessory piece in an otherwise traditional setting. The trick is to mix in the old with the new or vice versa. A few vintage pieces add another layer to your re-created Paris flat.
The trick is to make your antiques look as though they were in the family for centuries instead of being staged. The most important lesson on how to steal a Paris Apartment would be to shop for antique items that are functional and then use them everyday.
….is an important part of the Paris apartment decor. Parisians tend not to shy away from color. Think big bold pops – especially if your walls are neutral tones. Plan out color, size and theme. When it comes to size – here’s where you won’t go wrong with up-sizing.
As for theme – this is where you get to infuse your own personality. Choose art that aligns with your hobbies, your travels your favorite color. Trust your gut and trust your taste. Avoid family portraits or your wedding photos on the walls of your living room or family room – those do have a valuable place in your home – elsewhere.
Avoid generic prints that are this season’s favorites on Pinterest. When choosing a color – remember to mix but you do not necessarily have to match. Shop for unique pieces with personality in eye-catching frames.
….are a homeowner’s – or renter’s – best friend. Statement chandeliers are a great idea when you feel you only have the strength to go for a big impact piece and call it a day. Shop for chandeliers that work with your style – whether it’s a traditional French number dripping with crystal,
…..or a modern chandelier – unique and distinctive. Sometimes a single stylish ceiling pendant can spell the difference between a half- finished room and a well-designed one. If you chose the right one it can say a lot about your style by not saying too much. And that is how to steal a Paris Apartment. You can also check out some of my favorite recipes here. Let me know how they turn out. I love hearing from you guys. As always, if you have any questions about my E-design packages (the basic e-design package is currently 40% OFF during the pandemic) or want to chat about anything else design, you can always contact me at toriblackhomes.com