Smart Design By Suzette: Design Like A French Girl

Do something the French have mastered: enjoy your home. Courtesy image

Follow the French citeria when renovating: form follows function. Courtesy image

Los Alamos

How do the French do it – that effortless style that oozes sophistication? Even the term for that mysterious, not-quite-definable fabulousness is French: je ne sais quoi.

I recently read How The French Live. It identified a few key guiding principles that I live by and thought that this topic would make a good article. The author is from Provence, Southern France but now lives in San Francisco. Her French, modern style did not change when she moved to America. She kept the same family habits, instilled the same values to her kids, ate the same diet and followed her same principles. She visited 14 other French family homes to discover that there is a French way of living.

Less House, More Home

French families tend to mix and match décor elements from different eras and styles to create unique interiors that represent them. The French don’t furnish their homes to follow a trend or to impress visitors. They want their homes to represent their lifestyle; they add elements of their travels or inherited pieces that remind them of their family experience and speak to them.

Respect Your Home’s Architecture

Architecture matters. It’s the bones of your house and should guide your renovating decisions. Can you imagine a French homeowner replacing the windows in his Provence farmhouse with arched Spanish Colonial-style ones? Of course not.

Stay Classic

Paris is 2,000 years old. The French have been watching trends come and go. You’ll get more bang for your remodeling buck if you think like the French and pick a timeless look.

Native Landscaping

Your yard has architecture, too, made up of the existing trees and native plants that are meant to grow there. The French don’t plant palm trees in front of their Provence houses. They plant lavender. When you landscape, honor your surroundings and pick plants that go with your climate, making your yard easier to care for, more affordable, and looking like it belongs there.

Form Follows Function

A house that functions well is the little black dress of renovating. So before you renovate, run your plans through the criteria the French follow: form follows function. That’s the reason French houses are so effortlessly stylish — they’re built to accommodate the way their owners go about their day. It’s actually effortless to live in them.

Make Room for Your Things

The French know that one’s possessions give a house personality. They design their homes with space for their stuff to live out in the open. So make room for the things you love. They’re the ingredients of your life.

Don’t Overdo Renovations

Ask yourself, “What needs to be done?” If the French swung sledgehammers half as often as Americans do, their centuries-old homes would look, well, not centuries old. Do what your home needs, and stop there.

You won’t get back much of your investment if you over-improve for the neighborhood. Use that extra time to do something else the French have mastered: enjoying their homes. Decorate your home to feel natural and authentic. Gather décor elements with meaning. Less house, more home = the French way.

Suzette Fox is a local interior designer and real estate broker. Visit her website Find her on Instagram and on Facebook at

French families tend to mix and match from different eras. Courtesy image

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