How to Make French Decor


Looking to add French accent and flavor to your home design? We say, "mai oui." Effortlessly chic and hopelessly romantic, French decor is a perennial favorite with designers and homeowners alike. Known the world over for its fashion and keen design sensibilities, France has a signature style all its own. From countryside charm to Parisian glamour, French style is within reach. Follow some designer tips and create a space that makes you want to say "ooh la la," and invite some fabulous French style into your space.

Opulent Allure

  • If you crave glamour, nothing says luxury quite like French design. To create a space that makes you feel like a French film star, look for striking statement pieces. Ornate chandeliers, gilt chairs and marble-topped tables all speak to a glam French style. Stretch your imagination and repurpose pieces you already have, such as reupholstering a worn-out ottoman with stunning, sumptuous fabric. Use elegant buttons to tuft your piece and add French character. Give a fancy old chair new life with a coat of warm gold paint. Look for chairs, benches or stools with signature scrolls, ovals and other decorative accents to capture a true French flavor. Repurpose a tired lamp by adding a new shade in duponi silk or satin. Add a few sparkly baubles to the border of the shade to bump up the glitz.

Bucolic Beauty

  • Bring the genteel whimsy of French country style to your home by adding vintage pieces that exude a cozy feel. Scour flea markets to find items with a romantic past, such as a vintage armoire with beveled mirror inlays or a well-loved cabinet boasting delicate scrolls and swirls. A simple salvaged bench goes from rustic to "tres bien" when it gleams with a hand-rubbed beeswax finish. Cover a tabletop with a delicate piece of lace or a mirror to display photos or a bunch of fresh, very French lavender. Old steamer trunks sporting Parisian destination labels or stacks of antique luggage bearing vintage airport stickers from Nice or Cannes find a new and elegant purpose as side tables. Curvy lines are a hallmark of French design, so forgo the linear and choose oval, spherical and arched shapes. Look for those architectural details in mirrors, frames and accessories. Repeating your motif whenever possible adds emphasis to the theme.

French Kitchen Style

  • In your kitchen, opt for whitewashed or painted wood cabinets and pair them with granite or marble countertops to create strong contrast. Trade in a predictable stainless sink for a striking farmhouse beauty crafted of European soapstone. Exposed brick walls are a classic French kitchen element and meld beautifully with flooring of stone or hardwood. To update your existing kitchen, introduce some furnishings in bleached wood tones. Use elegant yet functional imported French linen to reupholster your kitchen chairs or give your windows some billowy new curtains. Hang copper pans from an iron pot rack or stack them on open shelving. Frame a kitchen chalkboard with ornate moldings for a bistro-inspired touch. Layer on the charm with French vintage dishcloths bearing images of the Eiffel Tower or a stately Napoleonic bee. Set your table with linens featuring a sweet fleur-de-lis detail. Look for brightly colored, French crafted dinnerware and pair it with footed glassware to set a table worthy of your best coq a vin.

Le Details

  • Accessories bring a big dose of French flavor when you choose pieces within your design theme. Antique French postcards, art showing the Parisian skyline or the rolling hills of Provence, photos framed in elegant gilt and coffee-table books with a French theme all work in pulling the look together. Pile on the textiles with rugs in elegant graphic prints. Sumptuous blankets and throws in French loomed cashmere or wool and pillows in silks and velvets readily mix-and-match to create a happy cacophony of color and texture. The mix of graphic prints and upscale fabrics has a decidedly French flair. Warm up a sideboard or mantel with French charm by grouping together a collection of French provincial silver candlesticks with hand-dipped beeswax tapers. An assortment of French drinking glasses, each with a single bloom, is a simple yet striking centerpiece; try stems of lavender or rosemary to deliciously scent the room with the essence of Provence.

Color and Pattern

  • Beautiful color and interesting patterns are a must for French-inspired design. Look for stripes, jacquard or toiles that lend a sense of opulence. Greens, golds, blacks, grays, pinks and blues lead the pack in popular French color choices. Layers of cream, white and ivory give a room traditional French feel when lots of texture create depth and interest. No need to worry that your color choices are "right or wrong"; French design is all about the use of color as a whole. Don't be afraid to experiment and use the colors you love.

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