6 Tres Chic Decor Lessons We’ve Learned from the French
Let’s all cut the bologna foie gras and admit a small part of us has always wanted to be an impossibly chic French lady. And that of course means having an impossibly chic French-lady home. From dreamy, muted palettes to perfectly imperfect patinas, here are six decor lessons we’ve gleaned from stylish French interiors.
DUSTY PASTELS ARE FOR LADIES (NOT JUST BABIES)
Faded violets, mints and blushes often find themselves relegated to single accent pieces (or the nursery) in America. But in France, these chalky hues are the primary palette of rooms from modest private residences to the Chateau de Versailles. (On the other hand, bold, bright rooms are few and far between.)
HISTORY SHOULD BE HIGHLIGHTED
You won’t find the French knocking down dividing walls in favor of an open floor plan. Rather, they most often choose to let original layouts do their thing—and cool architectural bones take center stage. Intricate moldings? Make them pop with a matte paint job. Herringbone floors? Push furniture to the walls and leave ’em bare. Ornate mantel? Lean a mirror atop, but otherwise don’t embellish too much so that the detailing functions as decor.
EFFORTLESSNESS MEANS LEAVING SOMETHING IMPERFECT
Much like their oft imitated street style, there’s an element of imperfection to French interiors that plays to the “effortless cool” factor. Think: a pleasantly wrinkled duvet, a vanity top casually strewn with Chanel or a silk chemise tossed just so on a settee. Always leave an element undone to make it all look easy.
LUSH TEXTILES ARE OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE
The secret to major Marie Antoinette vibes? Decadent ceiling-height drapes that pool on the floor. But windows aren’t the only place where the French rely on dreamy fabric for a lavish look. They’re also fans of upholstered walls, dramatic canopy beds and tufted velvet everything— basically any element with a voluminous silhouette and rich texture (like silk brocade or duchesse satin).
ROOMS SING WHEN THEY’RE SHINY
Whether the style of the room is mega maximalist or sparse and simple, an element of shine (or several) is an absolute necessity for French interiors. To adopt this glamorous mind-set in your own decor scheme, look to crystal chandeliers, antique ornate mirrors, ample candlelight and all the French gold and gilded accessories you can get your hands on.
SIGNS OF AGE ARE BEAUTIFUL
The French know a solid antique is most often a better value than anything fresh from the box, and that a worn patina is a sign of both quality and sophistication. (Heck, they were onto “shabby chic” well before Rachel Ashwell.) In France, this concept translates to a penchant for antique furniture with charming, subtle imperfections; softly sun-bleached linens; oxidized mirrors; and the like.