The French have a reputation as the purveyors of style and sophistication. Even in these days when casual living reigns supreme, French interior designs impart elegance and class to a home environment.
Those whose idea of this style has been limited to rustic French Country may be surprised to learn how chic a French interior can look. Whether it’s the ornate, decorative designs of the Baroque and Rococo periods, or something more streamlined such as the Neo-Classical style, there is a luxury to French interior decorating unmatched by any other design.
The French love glamour, so the first place to start this style is with some really glamorous walls. Pale color palettes for this design include combinations of gray, mint, cream, or robin’s-eye blue, all with touches of shimmering gilt, gold or silver. For a more dramatic palette, choose rich jewel tones of emerald green, peacock blue, teal and red. Either pale or dark palettes should be accented with white, black and gold.
Ornate pattern is a must for an authentic French design. Swirling patterns on wallpaper in the chosen color palette makes a beautiful accent wall. Similar patterns could be reflected in floral area rugs or in coverings that reflect the color scheme, such as vivid peacock blue rugs.
Furniture also must reflect the decorative French style. Antique and vintage furniture often is an excellent way to find the quality carved arms, legs and backs that demonstrate this design. However, these pieces should never be shabby or in disrepair; they must be exquisitely elegant. Dark woods or dainty pieces painted in white or black with touches of gilt are ideal for this style. For the bedroom, search for vanity tables with fabric skirts, armoires and chaise lounges. In the dining room or a corner of the living room, elegant bistro tables and chairs make perfect places for a tête-à-tête with family or friends.
Luxurious fabrics are one of the hallmarks of French interior design. Choose opulent materials such as brocade, damask, velvet, toile, satin, silk and lace. Use these fabrics in full draperies hung with swags or tails, tied back with golden, tasseled cords. In the bedroom, create a canopy above a bed by draping one of these fabrics attached to sturdy rings or brackets. Upholstery, pillows, duvet covers and even cushions and throws also should be made of rich velvet or satins and silks in fine patterns.
Finally, accessories can be the elements that finish off a French interior design. Lighting should feature crystal chandeliers with lots of dangles, as well as gilt wall scones or wall lamps, and table lamps should be topped by silk lampshades decorate with fringe, beads or even feathers. Black silk lampshades can be a striking contrast that highlights the elegance of the overall design.
Ornate accessories should include lots of decorative mirrors, wall or mantle clocks an pictures in decorative frames of white or black. Hat boxes, jewelry boxes, pillboxes, silver hand mirrors, brushes and combs and crystal perfume bottles can adorn any shelf or table. Art prints by Monet or vintage posters by Toulouse-Lautrec bring French images into the mix.
When the work is completed, it won’t take a sign in French to signify that this is a room of style and elegance.