But their amazing good taste also extends to the world of interiors, where their traditional-meets-modern approach has been copied in homes right around the globe. Here we’ll explore the do’s and don’ts for injecting some Gallic glamour into your home, and creating an effortlessly chic French-style interior that doesn’t feel too gimmicky or forced.
What is French-style décor?
If someone asked you to describe a French-style interior, the chances are your answer might be slightly different from the next person’s. Maybe it makes you think of a gorgeous Houssemann-style Parisian apartment with tall ceilings, bare walls and priceless antiques. Or maybe it conjures up images of a bohemian house with a decadent mix of Moroccan style cushions and beaded curtains. For others, it’s rustic Provence style homes that come to mind, full of large rooms with whitewashed walls, traditional furniture and decorative crockery.
Whatever French interior style you like most or want to re-create in your home, there’s one common element throughout, and that’s a subtle, but classic feel. The French are all about a modern-meets-traditional look with a hint of new and old sprinkled throughout. So, if you’re looking to re-create that much sought-after look, follow these tips for getting the balance just right.
You can also take a leaf out of the French style book by using gorgeous textured rugs and knitted throws to dress up furniture, and add a feeling of warmth. Charmingly faded table-tops and vintage chairs will also give a truly lived-in feel and a sense of heritage that’s such a common feature of French homes.
When trying to nail French-style decor, it’s all about making it look like you designed it yourself, so don’t be afraid to decorate the room with photos and personal ornaments from your recent trip to Scandinavia or South East Asia. Don’t go overboard on the personalisation though or decorate the room with a million different items of furniture as it can leave the room feeling cluttered, gimmicky and over the top. Less is more and a few well-chosen items will give your home that air of sophistication you’re aiming for.
Get minimal with walls, floors and ceilings
It’s not just the furniture and furnishings that create a French-style interior, but the walls, ceilings and floors too. Adding tall shutters and blinds to your living room or bedroom is an easy way to let the light flood in, creating that natural, light and airy look.
Can’t decide how to decorate the walls? Neutral colours work best. Sure, when you think of a bohemian Parisian apartment you tend to think of ultra-white and bare walls, but don’t forget the French like to add a splash of colour too. Think white-washed walls with a dash of pink. Other colours you’ll typically find in French homes include cream, ecru and ivory. Country houses from the rural areas of Provence tend to borrow more from the landscape, so if you’re decorating a country home, incorporate natural colours such as dusty sages and lavenders, sunny yellows and sky blues and brick reds.
Alternatively, try decorating your walls with Art deco monochrome wallpaper or Cubist inspired paintings. You won’t find many gallery walls in French homes. Instead one singular painting or piece or artwork hung and centred on your wall is the go-to preference. And remember to avoid extremes. Completely bare walls, or so much artwork you can barely see your wallpaper is not the French way. Aim for something in between and you’ll have a stylishly decorated French room starting to take shape before your eyes. The same approach applies to flooring, don’t give in to the temptation of covering your floors with carpets and rugs from wall to wall. Instead leave beautiful wooden floorboards and tiling exposed for an authentic, charming appeal.
Nailing a French-style interior can seem tricky at first. But as long as you strike the balance between old and new, and take a ‘less is more’ approach, finding your inner-chic will come much easier than you think.