5 Ways Parisian Designers Decorate Walls — For Modern Homes That Feel Effortlessly Chic

Wall decor holds a significant role in transforming a house into a home — this is how to Parisian designers do it with chic flair

Embossed tree on white dining room wall with contemporary dining room table and sculptural vases
(Image credit: Stephanie Coutas)

Are blank walls living their best life? You know the answer to that. Interior design trends see wallpaper, gallery walls, and different colors weave in and out of our homes, to play amongst accessories, furniture, and other items that we fill the surrounding space with. But if you know your wall art and decor could work harder, or have an entirely new look, we can only recommend the approach of Parisian interior designers.

Renowned for creative flair in their interior design, the French know a thing or two about experimenting with home decor. Although, even with my own French roots, I can't say that I have been practicing what I am about to preach thus far, and I am guilty of taking a more simplistic route to decorating my own white walls...

These looks simply prove that walls truly are an opportunity for every household to be expressive. And no, this does not necessarily mean you have to put a gallery wall together anytime soon, it is all about the approach of choosing what to adorn your walls with, working with the natural light and architectural elements in the space. Minimalism lover or not, this is how to follow in their footsteps.

1. Make sure art brings life and exuberance, without limits

Colorful artwork on wall above blue console with select collection of vases and gilded top dining table

©Francis Amiand Photography for Humbert & Poyet

(Image credit: ©Francis Amiand for Humbert & Poyet)

Art is that form of wall decor that says so much about a space and can set the tone more than many other elements present. Parisian interior designers start here to carve out a unique finish. 'We strive to balance classical and modern time periods using an imaginative and innovative eye to come up with creative solutions; and artwork is one of many ways this is possible in our creations,' say the founders of Humbert & Poyet design luxury residential, retail, hotel, and restaurant spaces in Paris in further afield.

'Art makes a home full of life, whether it be within a modern or vintage building,' continue Christophe Poyet and Emil Humbert.

When it comes to wall coverings themselves, experimentation is encouraged: 'The attitude of using wallpaper in a home has definitely changed over time, with it becoming more adaptable in homes. There are no limits to what rooms can include wallpaper, and the same goes for paint.'

2. They work with the room's scale, and natural light

Embossed tree on white dining room wall with contemporary dining room table and sculptural vases

(Image credit: Stephanie Coutas)

For a focal point like no other, let the relief sculpture of olive trees in the Iéna project inspire you. Created by Paris-based interior designer Stéphanie Coutas, the embossed design changes the way light bounces through the apartment, ensuring each wall is entirely unique and the space, ripe for even more prominent design features. Though quite minimalist wall decor in itself, the intrigue speaks bounds. 'The Iéna project allowed us to truly experiment with artwork and using a wall as a focal point was a very new creative vision,' says Stéphanie.

'When thinking about a project, we always try to see what we want to have as the major standout piece in the room; to have at least one that is eye-catching and striking. I established the layout of the rooms based on the size of the artworks and positioned them depending on where they received the right amount of natural light.' A good look for a striking dining room, or a living room accent wall we're sure you would agree.

3. They make sure it is a conversation starter

Geometric wall art with ethereal art

(Image credit: ©Francis Amiand for Fabrice Juan)

Creating a space that is convivial and a joy to be in goes beyond comfortable living room sofas, or perhaps a chaise lounge. The wall is a fine opportunity for drama and expression. Forget mass-produced art, it's a truly outdated wall decor trend. Take it from designer Fabrice Juan. This space is complete with a geometric wall pattern holding an ethereal work of art, there is lots to talk about here: 'Artwork holds a significant role in transforming a house into a home, turning mere walls into a canvas that reflects the soul of its inhabitants,' explains Fabrice.

'Beyond mere decoration, artwork infuses a space with emotion, personality, and meaning. This personal touch creates a sense of belonging and comfort, making the space truly one's own. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, artwork also serves as a conversation starter and focal point within a room.' Considering guests and how to keep your home primed in the chicest fashion for entertainment is, after all, a key French design rule.

'It draws the eye, inviting exploration and discovery, and can spark meaningful discussions among guests. Additionally, well-placed artwork can visually anchor a space, creating balance and harmony within the overall design scheme.'

4. Let it be an opportunity to celebrate craftsmanship

Cream colored dining area with decorative ceiling elevated by feminin sculptural pendant above modern curved table

Villa Clair Soleil, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, Photographed by Ambroise Tézenas 

(Image credit: Ambroise Tezenas for Sybille de Margerie)

Fresh and feminine, the fifth wall in this dining room designed by Sybille De Margerie has certainly not been forgotten. It embodies French craftsmanship, heritage, and pure luxury. 'This approach allows us to infuse a soulful dimension into a hotel or residence,' says the Parisian architect and interior designer who is passionate about involving artists, designers, and artisans in the design process for embroidered pieces and more.

'Artworks are an integral part of this composition. Personally, I frequently visit art galleries and museums, and I enjoy collaborating with artists, sometimes for exclusive works.'

5. Use the wall space to enhance surrounding furniture

Modern lounge space with curved tufted blue couch, white tufted armchair, round terrazzo coffee table central to fireplace with mirror above it reflecting bright artwork

©Francis Amiand Photography for Humbert & Poyet

(Image credit: ©Francis Amiand for Humbert & Poyet)

Breaking conventions of quiet art and subtility, Christophe and Emil of Humbert & Poyet show us how unapologetically loud colors in art, layered with classic features, and more contemporary forms can come together in perfect unison. Though loud, the off-beat fluidity of the art pairs with the sinuous curves of the couches, and this is not by chance. 'We have been asked in the past to display a specific art piece in order to enhance a piece of furniture, or even other smaller artworks,' say the design duo. There are some rules to follow when hanging art above furniture, and getting it right will be transformative.

'We had to deliberate where certain works would receive the perfect amount of natural light as well as thinking about how the more complex and abstract pieces would work with the form and shapes of the architecture and size of the space. We had to ensure we brought the artworks to life with the décor.'

How important is artwork in a home?

'Artwork can make a striking first impression, setting the tone for the rest of the house. It can welcome you into the home with a touch of elegance and sophistication,' says Victoria-Maria, designer with many clients based in Paris.

Wall art in white living room with burgundy couch, and vibrant skull sculptures

©Belen Imaz & Pedro Bermejo for Victoria-Maria - Pierre

(Image credit: ©Belen Imaz & Pedro Bermejo)

'I enjoy combining patterns, materials, and eras, creating colorful interiors that are a source of infinite joy. And wall decoration, whether it be a painting or a wallpaper, is a really great way to add color and life to a room!' Here are some pieces to adorn your walls and beyond, à la Parisienne, with a small apartment or not:

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is a freelance interiors writer and the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including DIY, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and it was during her year abroad studying in Bologna that she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille has a passion for art and beautiful spaces. When not writing or refreshing her home, you will find her gallery hopping, taking photos, painting, and traveling to seek out interiors inspiration.