5 Lessons From a New York Home That Takes Its Cues From Modern Parisian Design

We speak to the interior designer of this New York home who has been inspired by Modern French design through art, decor and white walls

A living room with marble fireplace
(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home for Zen)

The influence of Europe's chicest capital spreads far and wide. In this case, it's spread across the Atlantic to the personal home of Ania Dunlop - founder of Home of Zen. On a quest to flip her home and give it a modern Parisian makeover while preserving grandeur and architectural splendor, Ania succeeded in producing a family home that feels vibrant, modern, and sophisticated.

The house – located within an hour from NYC – underwent a gut renovation, and today harmonizes clean lines, luxurious textures, and a soft color palette that reflects the timeless allure of Parisian contemporary aesthetics.

Marble fireplaces grace the living spaces and the residence exudes seamless flow. Curated art and murals infuse contemporary flair throughout the home. 'We wanted to bring a touch of that classic Parisian chic to the Mediterranean setting, resulting in a unique fusion of styles that celebrates the best of both worlds,' says Ania. We spoke to the designer to learn more about this modern home's transformation..

1. Enhanced Parisian flair through art

A living room with mural

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home For Zen)

A wide-ranging collection of modern art is a key element that nods to the French capital. According to Ania Dunlop, principal of Home for Zen, the incorporation of modern art was essential to inject 'happiness and youthful energy', contributing to a balanced and inviting ambiance that reflects both timeless sophistication and vibrant contemporary flair.

'The extensive collection of wall murals and abstract art in the home reflects a curated selection gathered over the past few years, primarily from local galleries,' explains Ania.

To bring that contemporary feel, art is selected that feels interactive and multidimensional. 'The standout piece, "Eternal Kate Moss" by French artist Patrick Rubinstein, has garnered significant attention due to its unique three-dimensional nature,' says Ania. As viewers move around the piece, the kinetic art dynamically transforms, offering distinct perspectives. 'This interactive quality not only captivates the eye but also adds an engaging and ever-changing dimension to the overall art collection within the home.'

As well as art, murals cover the walls for an interesting alternative to wallpaper or paint. Murals serve as a deliberate strategy to infuse a sense of fun and transform the mood of each space. In the sunroom, the choice of tropical green wallpaper is aimed at bringing the essence of nature indoors, creating a vibrant and refreshing atmosphere.

Similarly, in the studio, a monochromatic black-fand-white willow mural (above) has been chosen to introduce something special without overwhelming the senses. 'This particular mural brings a touch of elegance and tranquility, creating a sophisticated backdrop for creativity without causing overstimulation,' says Ania.

2. Layered decor for pops of color

A dining room with mural and lit wall sconces

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home for Zen)

Another pillar of French-style living rooms is decor and furnishings that pepper the home, which Ania has relied on to give her home Parisian flair.

'I took time collecting furniture and artworks as I wanted to fill my home with heirlooms and so only recently I felt like it’s completed,' says Ania. 'Every aspect of this project was meticulously customized. We handpicked pieces that not only elevated the space but also told a compelling story of our passions and experiences.' The result is a home that feels both personal and exquisitely curated.

Handpicked furnishings also spoke to Ania's desire for a more soulful home. 'In the past, people used to place value on furniture because of the materials used and workmanship. I hope to bring back that mentality, of buying fewer items but of better quality and hopefully keep them forever. This is what I like to do for my clients, introducing them to artisans and handmade items to curate soulful homes with a focus on high quality and sustainability.'

3. Luxe materials

A foyer with white walls and rich materials

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home for Zen)

Luxe materials accent the space, another pillar of Parisian style decor. 'I’m drawn to modern organic aesthetics incorporating many luxe materials like marble, furniture made from ash and rift oak, shearling, mohair, bouclé, and handmade ceramics to create layered and carefully edited interiors that are both warm, serene, and authentic,' says Ania. 

Marble, in particular, brings a sense of timeless elegance and luxury to the home. Its natural beauty and unique veining patterns create a captivating focal point that introduces a tactile element, adding texture and depth to the space.

'Moreover, marble has this reflective quality that enhances natural light, making spaces feel brighter and more open,' says Ania. 'The use of marble in a fireplace setting not only elevates the overall ambiance of the room but also establishes a sense of permanence and grandeur. It becomes a symbol of refined taste and enduring beauty, making it a valuable asset in creating a luxe home.'

Elsewhere, wooden elements create a warm contrast to the coolness of marble. The combination of marble and wood adds richness and balance. 'For example, we have selected a walnut floor lamp that looks like a tree branch and a natural oak side table from Sarza.'

A living room characterized by pale pinks

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home For Zen)

Textiles are an important material too. Soft materials like plush rugs, throw pillows, or upholstery in complementary colors and textures can introduce warmth and comfort to the space. 'They provide a contrast to the hard surface of marble and make the room more inviting,' says Ania. 'We’ve incorporated shearling ottomans right in front of the fireplace in the living room (above), a textured and leather lounge chairs to make the space feel touchable, collected and comfortable.'

4. Calming color palette

A pastel colored bedroom

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home For Zen)

As with so many quintessentially Parisian homes, walls are kept bright white, bouncing natural light around the rooms. The decor punctuates the white walls with color. Decorator’s White from Benjamin Moore was chosen for the walls -a sleek, near-grey shade that brightens a space without any undertones.

The home's calming color palette creates a sense of flow from room to room. 'Since the ground floor is an open concept we decided to use muted colors to create a great flow on the lower level, while still creating a personality for each space,' explains Ania. 'There are a lot of textures and soft colors punctuated by modern bright artwork and greenery as well as an emphasis on simplicity and incorporating nature. It all lends spaces a harmonious feel.'

5. Architectural elements

A foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows

(Image credit: Tim Lee. Design: Home for Zen)

In contrast to the color palette is the grand nature of the home's architecture. The traditional ornate crown molding was retained throughout the house to give the space a grand scale that calls to Parisian design.

Architectural elements like the grand double staircases were streamlined but retained and the windows were altered for a floor-to-ceiling look that welcomes in that natural light (above). 'The story of this residence stands as a testament to the power of design in breathing new life into spaces, marrying timeless elegance with a modern flair,' says Ania.

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Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.