A Split Between Town And Country…
Even the briefest of perusals into the beauty of French interior design soon reveals a chasm between the town and the country.
Whether it is the sleek elegance of the Parisian apartment or the rustic charm of a French farm house, there is a choice to be made about which French style to plump for. But if you follow the advice of our international interior designers, you might be able to mix them craftily if you can’t decide.
French Country Style
The charm in French country style is that it has some of the finer elements of the chicer, grown up urban style, but it has some down to earth heartiness about it.
This can mean keeping the elegant wooden carved pieces of furniture, but juxtaposing them with some pretty, feminine touches. Perhaps laces, maybe in the farmyard animal type accessories (farmyard birds, roosters especially make for typical rustic ornamentation).
French Urban Chic
On the other hand, the glamour and the sophistication of the contemporary Parisian apartment needs little introduction.
The grandiose and the expensive is all very well. But you may be relieved to hear that actually, this can be done on a budget as well.
Juxtaposing the modern with the traditional is a specialty of French design.
This might mean placing a modernist lamp shade in the same room as antique.
Quirky is okay and something bought from a flea market can happily co exist with a more formal piece.
Did the French invent shabby chic? We don’t know, but one thing is for sure, the French can take shabby chic to a whole new level.
To create a truly dreamy look in your Los Angeles or Californian apartment, it might only take one distressed look mirror or shabby chic set of drawers.
We don’t need to turn your room into an antique furniture warehouse, just position one or two carefully chosen pieces of elegant coziness around the place.
If you want to up the romance stakes – and trust us, the French look, whether you go for the sophisticated urban or the more relaxed countryside style, means romance – then you will want a touch of lace about the place.
Ironically, broderie anglaise is a popular choice and a great way to bring both some French style to your apartment, but also a well needed element of rich textures.
We appreciate that lace has gone somewhat out of fashion in contemporary American home design, but in France it is still a la mode!
If you feel nervous about swathes of the frilly stuff, we could suggest just a touch here and there – maybe in small areas such as trimmings on upholstery or even just place mats.
There’s always ways to bring a subtle touch of texture into your room, to save it from sterility.
If it is one thing that French interior design is definitely not, it is sterile!
For a more opulent touch of lace, our international interior designers might suggest a white lace table cloth. Immediately elegant and adding a much needed sense of touch to any dining room or teatime!
Any window seat gives off an air of romance. It hints of lovers looking broodingly out of the window and dramatic views.
Even if you don’t have a dramatic view (or a lover!) you might still want to consider a window seat, to lend a little je ne sais quoi to your living space.
Elegantly carved wooden window seats, or even just a decorative chest with some opulent silk cushions and a lace throw could be all you need to give that impression of mystery that is so much an integral part of the French charm.
If you are lucky enough to have French windows or doors, then this is even better!
Don’t let’s forget about the window dressing whilst we’re at it. Although long, sheer white drapes look great against those full length French windows, we also think that either rustic style shutters or even blinds may be all you need to add that touch of the continent to your room.
Keywords to keep in your head when attempting any French style makeover, either modern or old are romance, mystery, elegance.
This is not going to be a minimalist design in anyone’s book. But the amount to which you want the silks and the lace to flood your apartment is totally up to you.
Don’t panic if you don’t want a tsunami of frills to engulf you. It doesn’t need to be like that.
It is totally possible to master the look of the artfully feminine, whilst still remaining eminently sophisticated. It just means a nod here or there to the softer side of things.
In actual fact, a room could be fairly bare, comprising of simple, yet elegantly shaped wooden chairs and furniture. But it is the small details, like the fine carving around the edges or the seductive sensuality of the velvet cushion plumped up on that hard wood surface that brings the romance to the scene.
To take a short cut into French interior design is very simple. You could merely source a prettily carved desk with a fitting chair, in the corner of your room – or even hallway.
French furniture tends to be based around the principle of carved wood, with some intricate detail. It doesn’t even have to be a desk, that is just an example. It could be any lightly carved wooden piece with elegant legs.
Monochrome is great, but in Paris, no one is scared of color!
The one thing that our international interior designers have noticed about the French look – be it traditional or modern – is that color is nothing to be afraid of.
Now this doesn’t mean wall to wall screaming bright migraines– but just that stabs of bold color – be they brilliant red or black, which don’t seem to be out of favor in the more modern French apartments.
A mainly monochrome design, based on a striking juxtaposition of black and white can be added to greatly by a lime green art deco lampshade or light fitting – as an example.
Shocking pink chairs might work fine, in an otherwise minimal apartment.
Do not be afraid to make everything “match” or even make everything look “blended”. Some odd, jarring notes are alright in French interior design, which always has an eye for the unusual or individual.
But before we get carried away with the idea that everything has to be loud – let’s calm it down.
For a more traditional look, soft colors can also work – lavender, ivory, shell pinks, for example all being great shades for the more dreamy, provincial look.
There’s Still Room For The Traditional
Within French interior design there is still plenty of space for the traditional look and perhaps nowhere may you want to visit this style than in the confines of the boudoir.
Now here is one space where the romantic side can come to life, without any fear!
A plain bed can be transformed by a beautifully carved wooden bedstead and the addition of some lush broderie anglaise bedding.
The night stand can be likewise, a delicate piece of shabby chic, maybe joined with a more traditional bedside lamp.
There doesn’t need to be anything clever, or knowing about this style, just a simple love of the beautiful. And that is one thing our international interior designers know all about!