Real Estate / Home + Design

The Secrets of a French Home

One of the World’s Chicest Women Tells All

BY // 02.07.16

For Paris-born interior designer and author Florence de Dampierre, living a chic life is simply her birthright.

“The essence of chic is to make things look effortless. It’s second nature in France, but not always so here (in America). That’s why I wrote the book,” says de Dampierre of her latest tome, French Chic Living (Rizzoli, $50). She’s resided on the east coast since the mid ’80s, but her rapid-fire Parisian accent is still thick and liltingly beautiful.

The author of multiple books on French life, interior design, and furniture, Dampierre lives in a restored 1876 house in Connecticut with her husband, 18-year-old daughter (two sons are grown) and the French-style gardens she tends herself.

“We do entertain a lot, and I really believe you have to make your life organized so that you have a tray ready for drinks or tea, and nuts, olives, homemade jam and vinaigrette in your pantry, and maybe something in your freezer that you can pull out on a moment’s notice,” she says. “If your silver is in a heap unpolished, or if you have to run out and go to the store, it’s not very chic.”

In her book, Dampierre offers classic French shortcuts and detailed, accessible ideas for maintaining a stylish home, much of it drawn from her mother and grandmother: Grow fresh herbs in your kitchen. Boil tarnished silver in an aluminum pot filled with salt. Wrap candles in aluminum foil and put them in the refrigerator to make them burn slower.

Her book is packed with other simple and charming examples, interspersed with Tim Street-Porter’s photography. She’ll be in Houston signing her book and giving a talk Tuesday, February 9, at 11 am, at Fabric House showroom, Suite 159 at The Houston Design Center.

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