When talking about style and design, inevitably we will dwell on famous French style furniture…
French-style furniture is simply described as effortless elegance, as French has the incredible ability to combine the old with the new in an effortless, bold, sophisticated way creating original, rich, natural, chic furniture.
When one mentions French style, usually the first thing on our mind is the unapologetic ornate furniture in neutral tones; nevertheless, a lot has changed throughout the years and after the French revolution designers and people in general simply turned their backs on the over the top ornate aesthetics and focused on combining the best from the old and the new, the beauty and the functionality.
French-style doesn’t follow trends, it simply incorporates carefully selected parts of it into its already established aesthetics.
Today’s French-style interior:
- Focuses on appreciating the old furniture pieces while still using simple natural fabrics (like cotton, cheesecloth, and linen).
- Combines the baroque curves with new modern lines and looks which make the old stand even more;
- The emphasis usually is on a single spectacular element that is breathtaking and gives the entire wow factor and the rest just contributes to the overall ambient;
- French-style is paying attention to little details and not letting anything to chance: from walls to ceiling, seating, furniture, even small decors and paintings, everything is well-thought and combined;
- In the old classical French interiors, white and neutral tones, (especially natural ones) dominated the scene. Nowadays in French interiors colors are chosen based on the mood we want to establish: to achieve calm, relax ambient designers use neutral colors like white and shades of white, taupe, light grey, cream, egg blue, serene green, mushroom, off-white, etc., and for achieving the more extravagant, bold, cheerful look and mood designers choose bolder colors such as emerald green, teal, peacock blue, shades of brown and red like cherry, etc.;
- Focuses on appreciating the old while praising the new: don’t be afraid to combine typical classical French style furniture with new, modern, unconventional pieces;
Different French styles in furniture:
Up till now, we referred to the general intake of French interior and how it is usually combined. Yet when it comes to being specific about French style furniture, we can’t go without discussing the two major French styles for furniture: French Country style and French Province Style.
French Province Style
This is a term used to describe the style of the furniture that was produced in the smaller cities and countryside of France mostly during the 18th century; these pieces unlike Rococo style pieces which were designed for the higher class and the royalties were designed to be more affordable and basically a simpler adaptation of the more luxurious pieces.
These were meant for the wealthier families of the provinces who had more money than ordinary people but still weren’t in the ‘major leagues’ and couldn’t afford the original pieces.
What is interesting is that although they were inspired by the Paris glamour they were not necessarily in full touch with the trends; this is because pieces of furniture in French Province style were created by a local craftsman who would occasionally visit the major cities of Paris and get inspiration but they still governed by their own region’s traditions and influences and used their local techniques in the process of creating.
That’s why there is not a single ‘uniform’ or ‘pattern’ that is typical for the French province style furniture, and depending on the location in which it was produced, one piece of furniture in French province style can be massive, exaggerated, and highly ornamented, while other can be lighter with ornaments, simpler, and sometimes smaller.
That being said, there are some things that were in common for all of these pieces of furniture and that is that they all emphasized practicality and functionality; French provincial furniture was created with the idea of being long-lasting, durable, and functional so it had strong construction and base.
In the production, craft makers used locally-available wood and for the metal parts and nails, they used iron as it was the most affordable and available material.
French Province furniture was also well finished and included some amount of (more or less) delicate ornamentation, which was either carved or painted, (in most cases carved).
The cabriole legs (curved legs featuring two arches from which the upper faced out and the lower one in) were also one of the signature looks of the French provincial furniture, and you will find it as the main feature in many different pieces of furniture.
French Country Style
This style has the ability to bring you back to the countryside and back in time to simpler, easier years. If you are leaning toward practicality and simplicity but you love elegance, then this style is meant for you!
French Country style is elegant simplicity at its finest: it originated in the French style designs in the palaces at the beginning of the 16th century, and although in the beginning it was meant to be luxurious as time passed by, the masses who lived in simpler country homes adjusted the French style according to their own needs creating what we know now as French Country style.
They kept the balance, fine craftsmanship, and adjusted the style to meet their everyday living needs making it richly sophisticated yet practical and simple to live with.
French country style is classified by furniture from distressed wood, metal, and glass materials and elegant, rustic finishes, and painted surfaces in rich tones and vibrant hues: province blues, reds, yellows, terracottas, natural grey, and earthly brown are the main, basic colors.
Different types of French Style Furniture & Accessories:
French Style Beds
French-style beds come in many different, quite decorative designs: they can have a striking brass frame, or romantic rattan or sweeping curves in classical sleigh bed; they come in many tones, usually in neutral, natural colors and almost always made out of wood.
French-style beds traditionally have 140cm width which is narrower than regular double beds, but nowadays they come in many different sizes so they can be the regular double or king size.
French Style Bedside Tables
Typical French style bedside tables have fancier more decorative looks than the regular bedside tables: they usually have 4 cabriole legs, one or two drawers, and carved decorations. They are made out of wood which is hard-carved, often weathered, or in off-white color.
French Style Bookcases
French-style bookcases are those dreamy large bookcases we see in castles and give us the goosebumps; incredibly pretty, these bookcases are made of wood which oftentimes is painted; they are typically high, with shelves that either go all the way down or have two drawers/doors in the bottom; Most of them have carved doors/drawers and have some interesting detailed carved designs at the top; many models even have small (cabriole) legs;
French Style Bar Stools
French-style bar stools have bases made out of wood, often times worn-out or in painted white color or in their natural wood color. They typically have 4 legs and a back, which may or may not be carved and decorated with simpler ornaments. The seat is almost always covered in material, which can be cotton, linen, or some other natural material. They fit perfectly in the country-style interiors.
French Style Vanities
Mostly when we think about vanity it is one in the French style: these models typically have smaller drawers from both sides and doors in the middle, or they are made entirely out of drawers/doors. What is specific about the French style vanities is that usually their top is made of marble, and there are different types of carvings that give the impression of embroidery to the drawers and the doors.
French Style Coat Racks
French-style coat racks typically are attached to walls or doors and their base has back, sides, and top all carved in different patterns and metal hooks for hanging the clothes. The metal hooks of the French style coat racks often have an interesting, partly oval shape and typically are in out-weathered white color.
French Style Coffee Tables
French-style coffee tables have four legs and they are either carved or cabriole; the base of the coffee tables in French style is typically white and the top is in wood color; these tend to be in a rectangular shape, but they can be found in elliptical form as well. Some designs may even include a drawer or two.
French Style Chest Of Drawers
One of the most feminine types of drawers adored by women all around the world is the French Chest of drawers which typically, but not necessarily comes in white color.
These French style chest of drawers have several drawers that have a curvy shape or craved frame; other models can have some other craved or painted patterns on the drawers, and almost all models have the signature carved metal drawer pulls that stand out from the overall color of the drawers.
There is almost always a carved bottom part below the drawers and 4 curvy or cabriole short legs included in the design.
French Style Dressing Tables
The French style dressing tables have few drawers which are smaller and narrower than traditional dressing tables.
Moreover, they have some interesting carved ornamental drawer pulls, and in some cases, they may even have a mirror attached to the base; like most of the French furniture, these too are made of wood and have interesting ornamental carvings on the bottom part below the drawers, and on some models, these continue to the sides as well.
Usually, the French style dressing table stands on 4 cabriole legs and have a French-style ottoman in front of it (if it is design similar to the makeup vanity), or if it is a regular dresser, then it has larger drawers that go all the way down. In this case, the legs are significantly shorter.
French Style End Tables
What is interesting about French style end tables is that they come in many different shapes and sizes: you can find oval, round, triangle, rectangle, basically in any shape; they can have a drawer or two but not necessarily; what seems to be necessary is them having decorative legs which either are in traditional cabriole style or have different geometrical shapes craved throughout the length.
Traditionally they were taller, but nowadays you can find them in any size.
French Style Garden Chairs
Unlike indoor furniture, the outdoor furniture in French style focuses on more weather-resistant materials like painted metals. Garden chairs in French style have thinner, leaner legs than the usual Garden chairs, and they always have a back which has some pattern in it that makes them unique and whimsical.
Different designs come with or without armrests. Since they are made of metal, most of the time, the French Style garden Chairs are painted and come in different colors. Typically, you will need to add a cushion to them, to make them more comfortable.
French Style Garden Mirrors
Straight out of the fairy tales, the French Style garden mirrors are added to garden spaces to open up a new vista into a smaller place.
These come in many different sizes and shapes, from the traditional church mirror that creates the illusion of windows to the classical rectangular, simple garden mirror with beautifully carved edges; all models usually are used to add space and light to unused garden areas, giving it the illusion that space is larger than it is.
French-style garden mirrors also are a great way to showcase and point out your favorite plants in the background.
French Style Garden Bistros
We can’t really talk about French style outdoors without talking about French style Garden bistros. (Not to be confused with bistro, the small French restaurants with traditional food, where oftentimes you may find these chairs in the gardens and outdoor area of the restaurant).
The French style Garden bistros are set of tables and chairs (usually 2) which are a match and come in the same monochromatic color. Usually, the pattern on the seating or back of the chair repeats itself on the top of the table. These are great choices for smaller spaces where you will sit and enjoy your morning coffee.
French Style Garden Gates
When it comes to French style garden gates, you have a lot of choices to choose from. French Style Garden gates can be made entirely out of metal, wood, or some combination of both materials. Almost always these have an arch style gate that is either decorated with curly iron patterns or has wooden carvings in its design.
French Style Garden Fountains
When it comes to fountains, the French is definitely famous for them: from the traditional 16th century Fontaine Ronde à fût, or barrel fountain, to the basin de repartition and the Fontaine à bulbe, or bulb fountain, French people love their fountains and have perfected their designs so much that they started implementing them into their gardens as well.
French-style garden fountains are typically made of natural stone or limestone, and have different carved shapes implemented into their design; moreover, they came in many different forms – they can be wall-fountains, central even large castle fountains.
French Style Garden Pots
French-style garden pots really made their comeback in the last few years and found their way into our gardens. These are great as they typically have that worn-out look which goes really well with many different styles; additionally, they are quite resistant and come in many different sizes and shapes depending on the province (and its tradition) from which they come, which makes them quite suitable for almost every garden.
French Style Garden Urns
French pots and urns are famous worldwide; depending on the province in which they are made, we have several different types of French urns, such as:
Anduze urns – coming from the village of Anduze, South France, which are classical formal urns made to be decorated with garlands, well-trimmed topiary boxwood bush, and similar plants;
Medici urns – which can be traced back to the 17th century, nowadays can be found in any carefully planned garden which makes symmetry its priority.
These are great decors, some simpler designs are great for adding different smaller flowers in them; other designs already come with handles and decorated lion heads and angels so they don’t necessarily need flowers or plants added to them as they are already decorative enough on their own.
The Biot Jar – is another ancient French traditional piece that we need to mention although it is not an urn.
The Biot Jars have a more upright shape (those which are from the 18th century) or a bulbous shape (those from the 19th century) and in the past, they were used for storing olives; nowadays they are part of many French gardens and French indoors where they make quite the statement.
The Biot Jars usually are filled with branches, different plants, walking sticks, or serve as a cachepot.
French Style Headboards
Can a French bed really be called traditionally French without the classical French Style Headboard?
Of course not – the classical French style headboards traditionally are made of wood, (although some may include stuffed parts) and they have a tall, thick structure that has a specified carved frame, which depending on the style they are in to (rococo, province, country, etc.) is more or less ornamental.
Some models are painted and have drawn decorations on them, usually floral, while others are decorated solely with wood carvings.
French Style Interior Doors
These doors have surpassed time and became a classic timeless piece that is a synonym of elegance: French door is usually one pair of doors that have light construction with glass panes extending throughout most of its length. Due to this, oftentimes they are referred to as French windows.
These doors offer you easy access to your outdoors, they are energy efficient and bring more natural light in the room, making it look more chic and gorgeous.
The indoor variations can also be made with glass which helps the home get that open space, the light vibe; or they can be made without glass, just out of wood with carved parts and frames.
Mostly the French doors come in white color, but they can also be in their wood color or painted in some other typically natural, earthy color.
French-style kitchens are the best example of French style’s tendency to mix the old with the new: these kitchens simply evoke in you the friendly feeling of home and remind you of a traditional and simpler life.
French kitchens (especially those in country style) can be in bright rich colors like deep red, olive, brown, gold or in some other natural neutral color or in the all-time favorite, traditional off-white color; these kitchens typically come with marble or granite countertops;
What is interesting about them is that they have furniture-like cabinetry and are followed by wooden floors, pendant lights countertops made of granite or marble, and different artworks.
The doors of the kitchens typically are carved and framed, and they are made of different types of wood which has unique details. Usually, in every French style kitchen, there is a part with glassed doors or a cabinet with glassed doors where the glass is stored.
French Style Jugs
Being on the subject of French style kitchens, every French kitchen has French-style jugs. These are made either of metal or ceramic and have a cylindrical shape that gets smaller in diameter as you are approaching the top.
French-style jugs most of the time are painted in monochromatic color and decorated with some painted flowers or if they are ceramic, they have carved details on the top and the handle. French Style Jugs are used for milk and juice.
French Style Lamps
French-style Lamps are a great way to bring that French style look into your home and illuminate your space at the same time. French-style lamps often have a base that is crafted from turned wood or painted iron; usually, they come in neutral colors such as ivory, off-white, beige, gray, taupe, faded blue and they are lightly distressed giving us that worn-out look.
French-style sofas are a great way to emphasize the French style in your living room: these come in different shapes and sizes and they can be slipcovered sofas or tufted sofas, or they may have a visible wooden frame.
The legs of the sofa can either be in the neoclassical style quite ornamental and eye-catching or they can be simple and wooden. The more traditional types of French Style sofas have a cane back which is a signature look for most French-style seating.
When it comes to fabric, this is where luxury and practicality come to play: the French style sofa usually is made of cotton or linen and is either in solid colors (neutrals like beige, ivory, light blue) or in stripes (like red and beige, white and blue tones) or if it is more luxurious, it comes in gorgeous floral print pattern fabric.
This shows that there are French-style sofas for everyone’s taste and budget.
French Style Makeup Vanities
No bedroom can be considered French without the most famous French bedroom piece – the French style makeup vanity!
These are made of wood, and have cabriole legs; typical French style makeup vanities are in white color or some shade of it and have a small number of drawers, usually 2 or 3 for storing the makeup.
They also have a mirror attached to them and below the mirror, there is a set of smaller drawers meant for storing jewelry inside the drawers and perfumes on the top of the drawers.
The french style makeup vanities are almost always combined with French style stool or chair and are highly ornamental and decorative.
French Style Nightstands
Accompanied by the beds, a French-style nightstand often follows the design of the bed and are matching the overall aesthetic and decoration of the bed. These two are made of wood and have the traditional worn-out look.
Typically they have 2 or three drawers or drawers and a door or two, decorated with interesting, carved, metal drawer pulls. Often times they have legs that can either be cabriole, or neoclassical, or simple and wooden.
French Style Ottomans
Fancy and luxurious, French-style ottomans have eye-catching designs: these ottomans are either entirely tufted or have a more traditional look which consists of a wooden frame and 4 legs which are carved and worn-out and seating made of cotton, linen or in some cases leather.
French Style ottomans come in many different styles and shapes: you can find them in oval, rectangular shape, and while some can be smaller, others can be larger offering seating to two people.
Some models may even include armrests; these really come in many varieties and it really depends on your personal taste which one you will choose!
French Style Office Chairs
Who says French-style can’t be brought into your office space?
French-style office chairs have tufted back with wooden carved frames visible in most of the designs; they also have armrests which are wooden and cushioned seats. French-style office chairs can have 4 legs like any typical French style chair or they can have adjustable height and be are on wheels for easier movement.
French Style Outdoor Settings
French-style outdoor settings focus on symmetry and creating an overall great ambient; the outdoor settings usually include stone terraces and gravel paths that have inserted stepping stones; additionally, they have straight-lined geometric shapes, neatly trimmed hedges, bushes, and shrubs, and the furniture is in a monochromatic color scheme.
The outdoor area besides well-organized and maintained plants can also include several different urns, pots, then fountains (typically central or wall), and depending on the size of the garden appropriate seating area.
For smaller places, there is usually a bistro set of chairs and table, and for larger places, French styled furniture followed by the chandelier.
French people love practicality, simplicity, and symmetry, so the overall outdoor setting should definitely reflect these things and be functional, simple, yet elegant and beautiful.
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