One of my favorite things to do on Instagram is to follow designers who can travel internationally to do work and to design for clients.
It is a vicarious hobby that I indulge in because I love to see the artistic photographs of a French Juliet balcony or a beautifully photographed croissant on a white table setting.
Although there are many beautiful places in the world, the pictures of Paris life always capture my attention and send my imagination soaring overseas.
Last fall I had several friends who travelled to Paris and once again I was poring over their photos; not necessarily looking at their smiling faces (don’t tell them!) but looking at backgrounds and doorways and window frames.
The architecture compels me and the simplicity combined with the whimsy and regal statements are like nothing I have ever experienced here at home except for the odd café or shop I may stumble into which recreates this iconic style.
In our part of the world we are overly aware of finishes which need to be perfect.
The walls of an ancient flat in Europe which are heavily plastered or covered in rough brick would not pass muster and would be drywalled over and painted immediately.
It is the essence of rustic and modern which makes the décor in France so interesting – to me. The French have a way of using a gilded chair in front of a broken-down fireplace mantle (peeling paint included) or adding an opulent chandelier over a rustic and battered farm table.
It is the juxtaposition of new and old, shabby and sensational that sets this design genre apart from any other.
The French also incorporate a great deal of whimsy into their design plan; it can present itself with a ridiculously patterned fabric or a pseudo serious art piece of a cat in checkered pajamas.
They seem to love the unexpected and irreverent and use it often when designing their homes. When I view photos of a Parisian interior (they are famous for the quirky apartments) I often dissect the individual elements to enable myself to see the room as a whole and in its parts.
Often the pieces on their own will cause me to say, nope I could NEVER use that hideous chair in a design yet when the room is drawn together and photographed with that misty morning light that I’m sure only occurs in Paris – it becomes a magical, wonderful interior.
Is it the delight of just being in Paris that would allow us to live with such unusual surroundings?
When you can lean out on a 6” deep balcony and stare at the traffic and the cobbled streets would it matter that you can’t put a patio set or a grill outside?
Could we trade our SUV and parking for four vehicles for a five-floor walk up and a bicycle with a basket on the front and would we be charmed by the bakery down the street instead of our drive thru lifestyle?
The charm and romance of Parisian design can stir something very primitive in our being and the thought of spending time between the walls of history romances us into longing for an old flat with peeling paint and trampled old hardwood floors!
Kim Wyse is a local freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Realtor/Ask a Designer’.