Why French Styling is FANTASTIC
If you had asked me a few years back what the words France or French bring to my mind I would have probably answered “the Eifel Tower, croissants and frog legs fried in butter” haha. Its amazing how over time my view or subconscious reaction to those words have changed and I credit it to the discovery of French styling in both the home and decor. There is no contesting the fact that French styling has a huge influence on home decor for a lot of people and not just here in Australia but all over the world. In fact it is hugely popular at the moment and this can be attested to by the success of some fantastic shops such as ‘Provincial’ or ‘Maison Living’. And why shouldn’t it be popular with its mix of romance, elegance and vintage charm, a perfect combination making it timeless and appealing.
If I had to pick two French inspired styles that are well known and loved I would have to say it would be French Provincial and French Country/Farmhouse styles. Both styles are wonderful and can really transform a living space from boring to amazing, that being said my personal favourite is the French Country/Farmhouse look with its mix of elegance and rustic aged finishes, in my mind it’s just perfection. The funny thing is when a lot of people think of these styles they automatically think of $$$ and how expensive it must be to transform your home in these styles. It is true that if you chose to decorate your entire home in furniture from one of the above mentioned stores you would burn a pretty big hole in the piggy bank; however the beauty of these styles increasing popularity is that you can achieve these looks in your home on a budget. Yes I said it, ON A BUDGET!!
Historically two main design movements took off from France, those being the wonderfully extravagant rococo and the austere neoclassical styles which have both had a strong influence right across Europe and other countries. Today I am focusing on two of my favourite French born styles, those being French Provincial and French Country/Farmhouse.
French Provincial furniture and styling always brings to my mind elegance and French royalty. Your typical provincial furniture pieces include beautifully carved day beds and love seats/sofas, furniture with cabriole legs and wonderfully elegant carving and designs. Toile and striking damask fabrics also compliment those stunning provincial chairs which exhibit a fantastic blend of carving and fabric. The ladder back chair with a woven rush seat is also a typical French Provincial dining chair. Finishes vary on pieces however, some of the modern replicas have a clean new finish whilst others have an aged patina used to reflect the original aged pieces with their accumulation of polish or grime in the carving over time. French Provincial styling carries with it aspects of the Rococo style, with the featuring of fantastic chandeliers and damask wall papers being mixed into this style. It also fits right in with the French Boudoir Chic look which is also striking and sophisticated making it very popular. French provincial styling can fit in with a variety of colour pallets from rich colouring to a mix of neutrals and whites.
French Country/Farmhouse styling has to be hands down my favourite due to its mix of elegant pieces and rustic charm. The focal point of the French Country Manor I find is the kitchen/dining being warm, inviting and yet beautifully rustic, which is great as it goes hand in hand with cooking and food which makes it social and inviting. The colour palate for this look focuses on a restrained almost washed out palate for the rooms / walls with varying shades of whites on whites, warm greys and warm linen inspired neutrals that reflect the casual and natural aged warmth and appeal typical of this style. The French country colour palette is used to enhance the ease in which the decorative and furniture pieces reflect their age and this aging offers warmth even in contemporary spaces. Furniture pieces can be a mix of elegant striking pieces and well worn aged and distressed pieces. Décor is effortless with the use of wicker and cane baskets, old pots and pans, large glass jars, crockery featuring toile images with blue and white or red and white being popular. Also a large array of fantastic French linens add to this style with hand sewn napkins and neutral table cloths, even well worn and faded fabrics fitting right in. The furniture choices are endless with pieces such as meat safes, rustic tables and chairs, hutches, crockery and linen cabinets and armoires adding to the appeal. Even aged butchers blocks with old fruit crates for storing fruit and vegetables add a fantastic feature or try using old tins and watering cans transformed into storage or vases as décor items. I think this style really does capture a perfect mix of elegance and a casual functional ‘homely’ warmth that makes it appealing and realistic.
Recreating the French styles in your home really can be achieved on a budget. It doesn’t require redesigning or decking your entire home out in brand new pieces that cost a fortune. In fact it only requires finding a few key pieces and working with a colour palate to make your choice of style effective. You can transform your dining room with the use of elegant provincial or rococo features and it may be as easy as a coat of paint and the use of a chandelier as a focus point. Or the use of a striking day bed in your sitting room or a love seat. For the French country look as mentioned cane ware, old crates, rustic ‘banged’ up pieces are great. You may be able to use all the furniture that you already have and just give it a face lift. Yard sales and the like offer an endless array of items that with a little imagination can be used to create the style you want in your home. You don’t have to buy items new, you can hunt for pieces such as chairs at markets and sale yards then reupholster them or paint them. If you don’t have the time and patience to do the furniture over yourself there are plenty of small businesses out there that do just that for a living and offer beautiful pieces at reasonable prices.
Really the possibilities are endless and the great thing is the French look goes great with so many other much loved styles; in fact it fits right in with Shabby, Vintage, Rustic and Scandinavian styles. You can create elegance and give off the romantic vibe of a French Chic Boudoir or the warm inviting appeal of a casual natural rustic French Country manor. The possibilities are endless and the choices are yours, the limit really is your imagination!!
- The Shabby Chic Attraction … not too ‘shabby’ at all!! (rusticboutique.com.au)