A few weeks ago, I shared with you a few of my tips for making a furnished apartment feel like home.
From promptly putting your suitcases away to stocking your pantry to (eventually) inviting a new friend over for a cup of coffee, there are many practical and inexpensive things you can do to make your new apartment feel like a familiar, safe, and comfortable haven. I share these tips because they’ve worked for me. My own pre-furnished rental has become a home over the past few months thanks to a lot of intentionality and patience — patience with the space AND with myself. These things don’t happen overnight, after all.
The most on-going — and the most fun — part of the process has been adding personalized, decorative flair to the apartment. To do so, I haven’t spent a ton of money, nor did I fill my suitcase with sentimental items from back home. Creativity and resourcefulness have ruled the day in this department.
The result? Simple bursts of individuality that tell our Paris story.
This is the “mantel” in our tiny, Parisian living room. I’m calling it a mantel because there was, at one time, a fireplace here! It’s just been removed in this and many other Paris apartments to help modernize… and to prevent fires from burning these old buildings to the ground, I’m assuming.
Technicalities aside, I thought I’d take a moment to share my mantel with you, explaining the precious assortment of memorabilia and treasures that we’ve chosen to display so very prominently in our home.
1. Album of Personal Photos featuring some of our favorite people in the whole world! This flip photo frame is filled with special snapshots from our wedding, allowing me to change out the displayed picture for another whenever I fancy. Now, I know that it’s a bit of a faux pas to have wedding photos on display in your living room — according to the book How to be Parisian Wherever You Are, that is. But I don’t care. I will display my wedding photos with pride!
2. Christmas Cards & Thank You Notes from friends and family. Much to my surprise, we received quite a few Christmas cards over the past few months… and cards are still rolling in due to crazy holiday delays! All of the cards with pictures on them have ended up on the mantel so I can be reminded of our dear friends and family often.
3. Concert Flyers from memorable events. Due to the nature of Chris’ research, we’ve been to our share of chaâbi concerts. A few of our favorites have made their way onto the mantel, including the great Kamel El Harrachi and Merzak Boudjelouah.
4. Chris’ Paper Crown from our Epiphany celebrations. Chris was crowned the reining King twice this year: once while enjoying a galette des rois with church friends, and another with a group of his professional colleagues. What a lucky guy he is!
5. Collectable Wand from the European movie premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (or, Les Animaux Fantastiques as it was renamed in France). I am a huge Harry Potter fan. So when I found this on my seat at the premiere, I was beside myself with excitement! How cool is THAT? A free wand! I’m not ashamed to admit that, while it serves as a souvenir from my geeky night out with a friend, it’s also reaallllly fun to play with. Plus, I don’t mind having the handsome Eddie Redmayne on my mantel. Not. At. All.
6. Movie Ticket Stubs from Fantastic Beasts, Rogue One, and NASA’s A Beautiful Planet — the three films that I’ve seen here in Paris thus far. There are several films on my list for the former half of 2017 (like Beauty and the Beast!), films whose stubs will be added to the mirror with the others.
7. Apple Cinnamon Candle, sent in a Christmas care package from my mom. I’ve never lit it for fear of setting fire to the entire apartment building… but I enjoy sticking my nose in it every once in a while. Mmmmm.
8. Beautiful Calligraphy done for us by a sweet friend as a parting gift. The title of this poem is Beau Soir (Beautiful Evening), written by French novelist Paul Bourget and later set to music by Claude Debussy. The lyrics are lovely and especially inspiring as we set out on our journey:
When streams turn pink in the setting sun,
And a slight shudder rushes through the wheat fields,
A plea for happiness seems to rise out of all things
And it climbs up towards the troubled heart.
A plea to relish the charm of life
While there is youth and the evening is fair,
For we pass away, as the wave passes:
The wave to the sea, we to the grave.
9. Dried Flowers in a pretty, purple vase. I’ve had these flowers since October but they dried so nicely I couldn’t bear to throw them away!
10. Attraction Maps and Event Programs from a few of our favorites. Pictured here is our map from the Louvre (which I try to bring with me each time we visit so we don’t end up accumulating 1200 of them) and our program from the annual Nuit Blanche (White Night) festival, which features art, music, and film exhibitions all over the city, all night long.
11. Trinity International Church of Paris Card, received with our welcome packets on our first Sunday in attendance. What would we do without our church and the dear, lifelong friends we’ve made there?
12. Metro Ticket from one of the few, unfortunate instances when we’ve forgotten our monthly Metro passes at home. That’s the worst: walking to the station only to realize that you have to buy a single ticket or hike allllll the way back to the apartment on a cold day. Well, at least they make great souvenirs!
13. Flyer from Strada Café, one of our favorite Paris coffee shops. We discovered Strada early on after googling places in the city where it’s acceptable to whip out your laptops to get some work done. Yes, there are Starbucks aplenty… but why would we want to go there when we could try something new?! Strada has good coffee, good food, and a friendly atmosphere. And, the employees speak English! That’s a win in my book.
So, there you have it: a few of our decorative touches. Simple, yes, but oh so meaningful. What do you think?!