By Judy L. Marchman
Recently, I had the good fortune to visit Paris, France. While there, I began to reflect on the sheer amount of design inspiration that can be found in that city — through the beauty of the architecture, gardens, museums and statuary.
While I was sad to leave, I took with me plenty of Parisian inspiration. I’ve included here a few recurring design elements that captured my attention during my visit — and are now on my French dream home wish list — to help you bring a little je ne sais quoi to your own home:
One of my favorite things about Paris is the many cafés and bistros — and the colorful rattan chairs surrounding the small round pedestal tables. The chairs come in a variety of colors and patterns, with some larger cafes and bistros having a signature look.
The primary manufacturer of these chairs is Maison Gatti, which, luckily for devoted Francophiles, has a U.S. distributor. But the handmade chairs are not cheap. So, if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, shop around online. The great thing about these chairs is their versatility. You don’t have to use them strictly as a patio set. You can use them as dining room chairs, or in a sunroom or breakfast nook to add that certain je ne sais quoi to your home.
When Louis XIV had parquet floors installed in his Versailles chateau in 1684, it helped solve the problem of leaking marble floors that were rotting the floor joists, but it was also a stylistic choice.
Wood floors laid out in geometric designs had become increasingly popular in France during the 1600s, and naturellement, the chateau’s floor design — large parquetry squares arranged on a bias, with smaller diagonal squares within — became known as parquet de Versailles. Parquet is the perfect way to bring an elegant and classic French touch to your home, whether you use the Versailles pattern or a design of your own.
Mosaic tile doesn’t immediately scream “Paris,” but I was captivated by the number of beautiful mosaic tile art I found around the city — and in unexpected places. For example, the first-floor rotunda, galleries and wings of the Petit Palais are covered with intricate tile patterns created by the brilliant 19th-century Italian mosaïste G. Facchina, who also created mosaic art for the Palais Garnier (Paris Opera).
Another great example of Facchina’s work can be found at the Galerie Vivienne, a 19th-century covered shopping arcade (un passage couvert) located just north of the Palais Royal. So, mosaic art doesn’t have to remain confined to your patio; it can serve as a focal point for nearly any space.
Have you added Parisian touches to your home? If so, leave a comment and tell us about some of your favorite Parisian design elements.
Judy Marchman is a freelance writer and editor, with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. She writes about a variety of home-related topics for NewHomeSource.