July 14 – Bastille Day in France and the perfect time to honour the French influences we love in interior design. Be it a chic modern Parisienne apartment or a rustic country villa in Provence, the French style combines beauty with functionality often including something unconventional and bold.
Although I always advocate making your choices reflect where you live and your own tastes, there are some basic guidelines for adding a ‘touch of France’ to your home.
Floors are normally natural materials like slate, stone, and hardwood especially parquetry in a herringbone or more elaborate pattern.
The preference is to use natural fabrics like cheesecloth, linen, and cotton in warm neutral tones drawing inspiration from nature. For example, a mushroom grey palette that includes touches of cream, blush and light blue. And often this style will include a gold accent or something shiny to add some interest. You may consider including ‘Toile de Jouy‘ and ‘Fleur-de-Lys’ patterns to create a muted vintage element.
French design likes to include something unexpected like pairing some baroque features with more modern, clean lines. Typically it makes use of old art ‘objets’ sourced at vintage shops or flea markets as the showstopper piece of a room. Armoires, wrought iron furniture and pieces with Cabriole legs are typical of French interiors. Focus on the ceiling by having exposed wooden beams so it becomes more interesting, and you can include the ubiquitous chandelier for feature lighting. Coupled with wall sconces this will create a soft ambient light and add to the mood of the room.
Be warned. This is a pared back style so do not be tempted to exaggerate with floral elements, fringes, tassels, frills, and ruffles. Do not surround a major design item like a French Renaissance theme chair with items from the same era. Rather opt for something that makes the chair stand out by contrast.
As the heart of the home, a French inspired kitchen will have a central island, often in a different shade or finish to the rest of the cabinetry. Or a wooden table and chairs to invite the family to share and be involved in the meal preparation.
So be inspired. Include simplicity and sophistication in equal parts as you add some French charm to your home.