Emily Henderson

stylebyemilyhenderson.com · Aug 10, 2017

An Intro to the Parisian Art Nouveau Style


Croissants, The Mona Lisa, Brigitte Bardot – the french really do ‘timeless’ well, and yet are always setting the trends both in fashion and home. And while we don’t want to box up all french design into one single post or style there seems to be a large ‘Parisian Art Nouveau’ movement that we are loving, that has bled into the design world an ocean away.

So put on your dark red lipstick, your LBD, spritz that Chanel No. 5 on your wrists and let’s rendezvous. We’ll break this style down and dissect what this look really entails and how you can get it.

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Curvy but Streamlined Furniture:

If you haven’t noticed already the french love their curves and that love is echoed in some of their furniture choices. For the most part this Parisian Art Nouveau look is filled with statement furniture pieces that have exaggerated curved lines in very simple forms. You will see couches with large overstuffed arms, chairs with rounded backs and small or no legs at all, as well as plenty of ottomans and tables that continue to echo that round and curvy movement.

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Graphic Black and White Accents:

They really know how to bring the drama by playing up the light and dark in spaces. This space below which is located in Hotel Panache and designed by the insanely talented Chzon design firm brings in the drama and contrast with the black panels on top of the white molding as well as the black and white check on the edge of the tables. It’s in the details folks.

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And if a wall to wall paneling project is not in your foreseeable future then the graphic black and white element can also be brought in through art and accessories like the spaces below.

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I mean, come on – how chic is the person that gets to call this apartment home?

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Modern Art or Sculptures or Architectural Salvage Pieces:

If you haven’t noticed already cues from classical architecture are big in this style of design. Most the spaces (lucky them) have built in character like some of the rooms you have seen already what with their huge paneled rooms and carved moldings and doors, but in addition to letting this original architecture shine, they echo it in the room with additional architectural pieces like the column topper below that is used as a table or the obelisk on top of it.

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Mixing old world with new world is something they are VERY good at and this style of design always brings in modern art or sculpture right next to say a century old bust or carving.

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Sculptural Lighting:

You won’t find a generic piece of lighting in any of these spaces, in fact most of the lighting is a statement sculptural piece on its own. Like in the previous example this style will always mix modern lighting with old world elements to help modernize the space. The below pic is from Hotel Panache again – I love this oversized ceiling pendant that they used above the bed that would typically go above an island or dining table. Breaking the (design) rules and getting away with it are something the french seem to be good at, and I like it.

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You’ll also notice a mixing of styles with lighting. Although the sconce and the floor lamp in the below picture may not be from the same style they work well together because they are both statement pieces on their own and are in the same gold tone.

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Velvet and Lux Fabrics:

This style tends to steer clear of anything too patterned or flourishy when it comes to fabric and instead brings in the interest through the texture of the fabrics. You will find lots of velvets, textured linens, sleek leathers, hides, furs and suedes in this style.

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Which brings us to the next point – textural accents. They love throwing in a shearling chair or a flokati upholstered pouf in the room. You can see in the room below that they have the fur covered chair, the flokati pillow as well as the metallic cowhide on the floor. Texture on texture on texture which plays well with the all neutral color palette so that it doesn’t get boring or flat.

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Wall and Ceiling Moldings:

Rarely will you see a room in this style that doesn’t have some sort of adornment on the walls or ceilings. It may be modern like the image below, or it could be original and centuries old like some of the images you have seen previously but this style is typically not one for a modern unadorned wall.

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Floor to Ceiling Window Treatments:

Rather than chopping the room or walls in half with a window treatment that starts closer to the top of the window, the majority of them stretch all the way from the ceiling line to the floor with some even having that dramatic puddle on the floor, and who doesn’t love a dramatic puddle of crushed velvet on the floor? (hint: many people but not us).

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Bold Pops of Color:

Although most of the walls stay fairly neutral in color you will see bold pops of 1 or 2 colors in the lighting, seating, or accessories. This rather neutral room is brought to life with an orange sofa, and if you know me you know I am not typically a fan of orange but this room is making a good case for the color.

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They also love a good red moment, which is very scary for some people. Pierre Yovanovitch who designed the room below brought in the color through the fabric on the sofa and the art on the walls and kept everything else neutral to balance it out. Kudos to you Mr. Pierre.

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See, another big pop of red with that bright blanket below. Is the red of the 90’s dining room everyone seemed to have coming back people?

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Let’s also not forget about green…

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Or blue and yellow…

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Or Pink…. this style doesn’t discriminate with color.

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Sculptural and Ornate Mirrors:

Mirrors are a big element in this style as well. Whether it is a modern shaped one like the next few pics below:

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Or an antique finish and gilded mirror, mirrors play a very big part in this style of design.

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Oversized is always a plus, and a leaning wall mirror is never a bad idea either.

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Separated and Distinct Seating Areas:

It might be because the rooms seem to be overwhelming large, but you will also see a lot of smaller seating areas used in this style rather than one centrally located seating area in the middle of the room. Not only does this break the space up in a good way but it also allows for multiple vignettes in a room which always helps to bring in interest.

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See, if you were at a party at this house you can have a convo with your friends on this yellow sofa while the stranger you are avoiding could take a seat in one of the corner vignettes. And below there is a seating area in front of the fireplace as well as the main seating area in the foreground of the room. You should also take note of the mirror, the pop of red, and sculptural furniture and lighting choices which we have already discussed. Is it making sense yet?

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Play with Scale:

Last but certainly not least is how well this style plays with scale. Whether that be a pair of oversized lounge chairs that seem far too large for the space, or a tiny little stool paired with a curvy armchair like below, the juxtaposition of scale with large and small is always welcome in this style. Now you don’t want to get carried away with it and end up looking like you live in the set of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” but one or two cases of this can work within the space if it is balanced out by the rest of the furniture in the room.

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So, who is into this style as much as we are? Do you think you could handle the drama in your own space? Stay tuned where we break down the style even further and pull together some roundups of some of our favorite products from this style to help you get the look. Until then we’ll be practicing our french conjugations.

The post An Intro to the Parisian Art Nouveau Style appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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