Let’s all forget the Bolognese foie gras for a moment and admit that some of us have always dreamed of being an incredibly chic French lady. And that implies that such a lady must have an incredible French-style home. From fabulous, muted palettes to utterly imperfect patina colours, here are six decor lessons we learned from stylish French interiors.
Dusty pastel tones suit ladies (not just children)
Colour palettes such as faded violets, mint tones and blush are often relegated to individual compositions in décor (or children’s rooms) in America. But in France these pale shades are a staple palette of rooms, from modest private residences to the Château de Versailles. On the other hand, bold, light-coloured rooms are few and far between.
History has to stand out
You won’t find the French tearing down dividing walls in favour of an open floor plan. Rather, they’re more likely to choose to let the original design do its thing – and cool architectural ensembles take centre stage.
Intricate stucco? Accentuate it with matt paint. Floors with herringbone pattern? Move your furniture against the walls and let the floor open up. Overly flamboyant mantelpiece? Install a mirror on top of it, but don’t overdo it to make it look like decoration.
Unpretentious means leaving something imperfect
Like their often imitated street style, French interiors have an element of imperfection that comes across as ‘effortlessly casual’. Think: a slightly wrinkled blanket, a dressing table carelessly laden with Chanel perfume, or a silk shirt tossed on the sofa. Always leave an element unfinished to make it look simple.
Lush fabrics are paramount
The secret to Marie Antoinette-style furnishings? A decadent bedroom, draped with ceiling-high curtains flowing down to the floor. But windows aren’t the only place the French rely on luxurious fabric for a fabulous look.
They are also fans of upholstered walls, stately four-poster beds and tufted velvet throughout the decor – that is, voluminous silhouettes and rich textures in almost any decor element (such as silk brocade or satin satin duchesse).
Rooms are perfect when they shine
Whether the room style is mega maximalist or light and simple, an element of sparkle (or several elements) is an absolute must for French interiors. To embrace this glamorous style in your own decor layout, look to crystal chandeliers, antique ornate mirrors, lots of candles and all the French gold and gilded accessories you can get your hands on.
Signs of antiquity are gorgeous
The French know that a solid antique is often better value than anything new out of the box, and that a worn patina is a sign not only of quality but also of sophistication. In France, the concept translates into a penchant for antique furniture with charming, subtle imperfections, softly sun-burned linens, oxidised mirrors and the like.