Noting the innate chicness of all things French is about as groundbreaking an observation as “Joanna Gaines loves shiplap.” It’s the reason we care about how the French wash their hair or cook their eggs—for whatever reason, even the mundane seems cooler when accompanied by a Parisian accent and a breton stripe or two.
Whilst stalking our favorite French it-girls on Instagram (which may or may not be a half hour-long ritual conducted by this writer on a daily basis), we started to notice another trend we wanted to co-opt. The one thing each prolific mirror selfie had in common? A mantel that somehow looks both impeccably styled and perfectly imperfect.
Luckily, this particular decor trend is both easy to adopt and affordable: Simply spend a few hours at your local thrift store to find unique pieces that don’t cost a ton. And if you aren’t actually in possession of a mantel, recreate this look by installing a mirror above a built-in shelf. The built-in shelf doesn’t even have to be a real shelf; it can be a slab of wood you picked up from the discard pile at your local hardware store and painted for a customized look.
Not sure how to start decorating à la française? Read on for some serious inspo (and maybe a healthy dose of mantel envy).
When in doubt, a mishmash of candles and flowers is the way to go. Throw in some dead flowers—the more palatable term for which is “dried” flowers—for a truly eclectic mix of blooms, and house the lot in a medley of vases that range from reclaimed bottles to ceramic. This Ikea set is an affordable way to get started on building that collection.
If your style errs more on the side of minimalism, try one singular bouquet in a statement-making vase for an uncluttered surface. The French appear to be less interested in collecting an assortment of different flowers into one bouquet, and instead opt for something that feels a little less curated—like this dried money plant displayed in a bright blue vase.
Speaking of which, your best bet for finding something similar is at a vintage or flea market where you can get one of a kind pieces for a steal. If that fails—or if you’d simply rather FedEx your new French girl style—H&M Home has a few pretty glass options that we also love.
The mirror that blends into the wall! The two massive vases bookending the entire mantel! The array of photography oh-so-artfully displayed on the floor! There’s not much we don’t love about this little nook.
Maybe it’s the stylish befringed woman who is taking the mirror selfie, but in our opinion, clutter has never looked chicer.
In lieu of a gallery wall, take a page from model-turned-it-girl Louise Follain’s style guide and prop up artwork or mementos, like vintage magazines, right underneath your mirror. With this much happening on the mantel, keep the mirror itself super simple; we like this one from Urban Outfitters or this (significantly cheaper) Ikea option.
We sense a pattern: The more plants, the better—and this includes greenery in addition to pretty florals. Pick up a couple of these hard-to-kill plants for a natural accessory that will last more than a few weeks… even if your gardening skills leave something to be desired. If your neighborhood nursery doesn’t have anything you love, find some great options at The Sill. For the perfect final touch, add a cat. Find one at your local shelter.
A fun twist on the classic gallery wall? A gallery wall comprised of mirrors. We love this eclectic array of different styles and sizes. Finish off the look with a tray full of perfumes and jewelry—turns out, the ultimate organizational tool is French-girl approved!—and some smaller potted plants for a sweet little corner that makes a statement.
Harsh lighting is neither very French nor very chic, so incorporate some accent lights on your mantel. This is a great way to get some final use out of the string lights left over from your dorm room years if you don’t want to toss them just yet; just be sure to stick to a muted, warm-hued bulb to make your space feel more toned down and simultaneously add a pretty glow to your next mirror selfie. Cowboy hat appreciated, but not required.