1. Hit the auctions. Drouot has auctions for every price level. Go to its Montmartre location for the best deals. I got this armoire, and another one, and a clock, for only 600 euros, and found a guy that day to deliver them for a few hundred more. These three items would have cost me $3,000–5,000 in the United States. Also, shop online and have your purchases shipped!
2. Art is important, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Hunt thoroughly at the Paris flea markets and invest in a few good pieces, then select several affordable vintage French prints and posters. Graphics from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s are always chic. Also, other things can become art, like this wire mesh sculpture once used at a hat or scarf manufacturer, and now serving as “art” in my bedroom. She definitely gives personality to the room don’t you think?
3. It’s the little things that matter. This little folly was acquired at the Marché aux Puces from one of the rug dealers. I’ve been careful not to buy only French items for fear of creating a look that’s too predictable. The piece is a traveling coiffeuse from Iran with inlaid pearl, and I paid 350 euros or so for it. It’s not very practical, but it’s the bit of whimsy that makes our second bedroom. Knowing that it was once used in a traveling caravan across the desert for shaving in the morning just delights me.
4. Use stripes. Never out of style and very French, stripes work on the classic blue-and-white sailor shirt as well as on an antique kilim from Iran. Also, I’m a firm believer in Ikea, as so many Americans and Europeans are. I like their couches for the clean lines and really affordable prices.
5. After decorating, make sure you fill your place with flowers, whether it’s in Paris or London or New York. It’s the affordable luxury that makes your day. Paris offers some of the world’s best florists. Our favorites are Frédéric Garrigues, Odorantes and Rambert Rigaud.
Marchés aux puces
The best guide through the marchés aux puces is the Antiques Diva. If you are a GO-Card member, you’ll get your own VIP welcome bag full of goodies.
9, rue Madame, in the 6th Arrondissement.
Rambert Rigaud Fleuriste en Herbe
2, rue de l’Université, in the 7th Arrondissement.