Tips and tricks from a decorating professional Cristina Velani in her studio on Paris’ Rue de Rivoli

Words: Alice Duriez Photos: Alice Duriez

With a poor layout and located under the eaves, this studio was completely transformed into a modern, stylish space, with a soft, pastel colour scheme, elegant materials and a hint of industrial design. Cristina Velani reveals her sources of inspiration.

Cristina Velani
Cristina Velani

What inspires you?

I am inspired by nature, exquisite materials and everything that is calming and makes us feel good.
I think the most essential aspect of a living space is that feeling of well-being and relaxation you get when you enter. This feeling is determined by the harmony between empty spaces and occupied spaces, colours, shadows and lighting and a suitable area for moving around.

What colours do you like to have around you?

I like neutral, mute shades, mostly cord, taupe, putty, cerused wood, chalk white. They are mostly greyish hues that are a little bit earthy. Those are the dominant colours.
I also like to add a little splash of strong, bright colours, to highlight a particular spot and give the place some character. Strong, bright colours must be used in small amounts. You need to be careful not to overwhelm the apartment with strong colours because they make the place feel smaller.

What is the ideal colour to make an apartment feel spacious?

The perfect colours would be putty, light taupe, something neutral without going completely white.

White can be used for the ceiling, for example, but it’s not obligatory either. It depends on how much natural light enters the apartment and the ceiling height.

To make a small room feel bigger and more spacious, there are different ways to create a false impression.

Where do you usually unearth great finds?

Mostly on the internet and at flea markets.

What are the current design trends?

People have very cluttered lives, things to do, to remember, too much information to manage; we need simpler, clean lines, paired with objects that give a little bit of character and a storyline to our living space. Furniture, for example, that has been well-used, with past lives and a time-worn look. Pieces of furniture like that are really unique.

Where can we have a look at your work?

My website,

Lastly, have you any decorating tips to share with us?

Tip no.1
Empty spaces are just as important as occupied spaces. In our little Parisian apartments, this is the golden rule to maintain a feeling of serenity.

Tip no.2
Don’t mix too many different colours, unless you are an expert with colours. It’s easy to get it very wrong.

Choose two or three colours max, and stay with those tones across various materials. You can use the same colour on curtains, the kitchen cabinets and a door handle, for example. That is how to create harmony.

Apartment available to rent