French style isn’t the most precise of descriptors. After all, France has existed for more than a thousand years, meaning the term should encompass a wide range of styles rather than just one. The situation becomes even worse if you assume the predecessors to France are close enough to count as French.
Fortunately, My Domaine says people often use French style to indicate French provincial style, which takes inspiration from the rural manors of the early modern era and other structures of other times. Alas, they aren’t always using the term in this way. As a result, you need to do your best to know exactly what people are referring to at any given moment.
What Are 20 Tips to Design a Beautiful French-Style Home?
Here are 20 suggestions for designing a beautiful French-style home from House Beautiful and other sources:
1. Buy Vintage French Items
Unsurprisingly, if you are going for a French style, you should buy vintage French items. Those make for the most authentic results. Still, you don’t have to buy vintage French items if you don’t want to. After all, you are going for a style, so what matters the most is how everything comes together in the end.
2. Check Out Distressed Items in a Traditional Style
Indeed, if you like the look of vintage French items but don’t feel the need to buy vintage French items, you can always check out other traditional-looking items. In particular, you want to go for distressed examples. There are several benefits to using distressed items. For instance, they are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint if you are eco-conscious. However, chances are good you are most concerned by how they look in your hopefully French-style home. Fortunately, Impressive Interior Design and similar resources offer numerous suggestions on the best ways to integrate distressed items.
3. Mix the Modern and the Traditional
Speaking of which, you shouldn’t hesitate to mix the modern and the traditional. Indeed, you should see mixing as a good thing because going all-in on a single aesthetic is contrary to much of French interior design. As a result, if you buy traditional-looking items, you don’t need to put them together in the same locations. Instead, you should feel free to use them to contrast and complement their more modern-looking counterparts.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Contradictions
We often decorate our living spaces according to an internalized set of spoken and unspoken rules. There is nothing wrong with staying within the boundaries set by those rules. Still, if you want to embrace French style, you should be bolder when it comes to seemingly contradictory elements. Audacity may or may not work out. Even if it doesn’t work out, it will at least be interesting. Something that won’t necessarily be true if you stay within the boundaries set by those rules.
5. Seek a Balance Between the Formal and the Casual
French style can be either formal or casual. You don’t want to prioritize one at the expense of the other. Instead, you are better off striking a balance between the two so that you can use your living spaces for both formal and casual occasions. In this as in other things, versatility is a virtue.
6. Go For a Lived-In Look
Cold, angular perfection is a great look when you are selling a cold, angular kind of business. The same isn’t true when it comes to the home. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t go for cold, angular perfection in your home because it makes your home extremely uncomfortable. Most people don’t find cold colors and hard angles very welcoming when they try to rest. Similarly, most people are more relaxed with a lived-in look, if only because they fear ruining perfection.
7. Consider Hard Flooring
If you are wondering about flooring, the general recommendation seems to be stone flooring or hardwood flooring. Both are elegant and long-lasting, thus making both excellent choices for a wide range of people. Of course, if you are concerned that these flooring options will be too unwelcoming, you have ways to balance that out. For instance, you can buy rugs, a surprisingly versatile tool in the arsenal of interior decorators. They aren’t just good for adding a touch of soft warmth; they are also good at tying scenes together while enhancing their surroundings through contrast.
8. Check Out Art Nouveau Architecture
Strictly speaking, Art Nouveau was an international art movement. Still, there can be no doubt about the French contribution, as shown by how the name is French for “New Art.” There was an architectural component to Art Nouveau, so you could mine that for inspiration. The Spruce mentions arches, curved lines, and organic shapes. Furthermore, it mentions the frequent use of animal, plant, and other nature motifs, which could be paired with intricately-wrought works of glass and iron.
9. Put Up Some Prints
Bare walls are boring. If you aren’t sure what you want to put on your walls, you can always go with art prints. Once again, Art Nouveau is a great choice. However, France was by no means limited to a single art movement. Those who want an older, more serious-looking style should consider Neoclassicism. Alternatively, those who want something more natural and more spontaneous should check out Impressionism. France has given rise to numerous artists of note, so you are almost spoiled for choice in this regard.
10. Get Seasonal Flowers
Flowers are a great addition to your home. With that said, there are rules on the best ways to use them. For example, you should choose seasonal flowers for the sake of convenience, if nothing else. Simultaneously, you want your flowers to look good without being too lurid or too intentional. A bit of seeming spontaneity can work well with carefully-chosen surroundings.
11. Get a Good Container For Those Seasonal Flowers
Be sure to get a good container for those flowers. You don’t need to decorate absolutely everything in your home. Still, you shouldn’t just lavish your attention on your centerpieces at the expense of everything else. Vases and other kinds of containers for flowers are opportunities to improve your home’s appearance. As a result, you shouldn’t hesitate to use them that way.
12. Decorate Using Soft Colors
Luridness is not a good thing for a French-style home. Due to that, you should be careful with the use of bright, brilliant colors. In most cases, you should stick to softer colors, which tend to make for a more comforting feel than otherwise possible. Warm neutrals such as beiges and tans are particularly good for this purpose.
13. Get a Clawfoot Bathtub
Trulia and other sources agree that the master bathroom is one of the two most important rooms in the home. That makes it an obvious place to focus if you want to splurge a bit. There are numerous ways to do so. One of the most interesting would be putting in a clawed bathtub. These bathtubs showed up in the 19th century, meaning they are perfect for anyone who wants to evoke the feel of La Belle Époque.
As for why you would want to emulate the look of La Belle Époque, well, Mayfair Gallery says people see it as a time of peace, prosperity, and general optimism about the world. Much of that comes from its historical placement. Before it, there was a tumultuous period including the Second Republic, the Second Empire, and the early years of the Third Republic. After it, there were not one but two World Wars. Naturally, La Belle Époque came off looking pretty good compared to those two periods.
14. Get a Gilded Mirror
Mirrors are a wonderful tool for improving the look of a home. Essentially, they make their surroundings look bigger and brighter by reflecting light. With that said, there are mirrors and then there are mirrors. You don’t want to settle for something small and inconspicuous because that defeats the point. Instead, you want something big enough to serve as a centerpiece for an entire room. Moreover, if you want to maximize its visual impact, you should provide it with an elaborate frame. Gilding is a classic for good reasons. It looks particularly good when the carvings on the frame are intricate enough to warrant this kind of ornamentation.
15. Get a Good Armoire
Wardrobes are standing closets. They are armoires If they are wider than a grown adult’s arm span. These pieces are good at grabbing attention, not least because they offer a great deal of surface area that can be ornamented as interested individuals desire. Better still, the sheer size of armoires makes them a great way to add storage space to a room. Suffice it to say that having more storage space is always useful. Something particularly true if you are prone to accumulating things without getting rid of them at the same pace.
16. Get a Good Chandelier
Lighting is always important for a home’s overall feel. It is one of those things that are out-of-sight and thus out-of-mind when it is working well, which is rather ironic considering the nature of light. Unfortunately, it is also one of those things that are very obvious when it is working poorly. As a result, it is always a good idea to spare some thought for what kind of lighting you want for a particular space and how you want to provide that lighting.
Anyways, it is interesting to note that lighting can be a source of visual interest in its own right. Nothing makes that clearer than a chandelier, which is as elaborate as these things get. If you are going to pay for a chandelier, you might as well check out the extras available for this kind of lighting. The ability to change its height can change the look of the room. Similarly, the ability to change the intensity of its illumination is even more useful for this purpose.
17. Get an Ornamented Mantel
Fireplaces tend to dominate any space they are situated in. As a result, there is no point in hiding them. Instead, you should embrace their centerpiece potential by looking into ways to increase their presence. One of the best ways to do so would be a more ornamented mantel for your fireplace. French history means you should have no shortage of inspiration for your mantel. If you want something elaborate-looking, you can’t go wrong with Baroque and Rococo visuals.
18. Install Floor-to-Ceiling Windows
French-style homes should be open, bright, and spacious. Floor-to-ceiling windows are a great way to ensure those things because they let in so much natural light. The uninterrupted view of the surroundings is also useful for integrating indoor and outdoor spaces, which is extremely useful for people seeking to emulate the rural manors of the Ancient Régime.
19. Install Skylights
Some people might consider floor-to-ceiling windows a poor choice for their home. If you feel this way, you can check out an alternative in the form of skylights. Essentially, they provide the same set of advantages as floor-to-ceiling windows, but they offer more privacy and security compared to their counterparts.
20. Follow Your Heart
Ultimately, you need to be willing to follow your heart when it comes to your home. That means drawing inspiration from your personal experiences rather than sticking purely to what you imagine a French-style home is supposed to look like. Furthermore, that means being willing to make bold, unconventional choices when you think the finished result will be more pleasing to your personal preferences.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go about this recklessly. Many tools help people visualize what their planned changes for their homes will look like. They aren’t perfect, but they should nonetheless provide you with a more informed understanding of what your choices will lead to. That should make for better decision-making, which is particularly important if you want to make big, dramatic changes that can’t be easily undone.
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