Wednesday, 17 July 2013

French interiors revealed

French interior style is very popular in the U.K and in the U.S. It's one of my most followed boards on Pinterest and there are hundreds of others out there. When you mention French interior style there are three main camps. There is a a traditional look, often with rooms festooned with acres of toile de Juoy, a fabric which when used sparingly can look lovely particularly when combined with stripes or checks, but is often married with matching wallpaper, bed linen and drapes.

A room in www.chateaudelabarre.com
Toile de Juoy looks best, in my opinion, when used selectively. This is a traditionally designed room but with a beautiful toile bed.

via Pinterest

Then there is the Provencal style, typified with rich ochres, terracotta and an intense cobalt blue. Tiles feature heavily and walls are often painted with these strong colours. It's a style that we long to have in northern Europe as it reminds us of the warmth of the Mediterranean and lazy afternoons on holiday. Unfortunately we don't have the right light at our latitudes to make these colours sing, although the tiles are very popular in kitchens. We have to make do with a piece or two of ceramics to conjure up our vacation dreams.

Atelier Yvan Vedel
Or use fabrics from Souleiado, inspired by Indian patterns from the 18th & 19th centuries they make great table linen or as here for a summer bedroom.

Source: lamarmotte.be



But there is a look that has outstripped the first two and that appears everywhere, the French Chateau with a leaning towards the shabby chic. Creams, stones and greys abound. Wood is washed with paint and there are layers of linen.


Via Pinterest
 

Via Pinterest
  
 Furniture is old, mirrors are foxed, chandeliers sparkle and table displays are everywhere. Woe betide you if you can't artfully arrange blooms (freshly plucked from the garden and sparkling with dew) in your wonderful brocante find.

Via Pinterest

Done right it can be a beautiful and relaxed style with colours that really work with the light in northern Europe and Scandinavia. But I often wonder how realistic is it? Or have we taken this style and run with it in an attempt to imbue our own homes with elusive French style.

So, I decided to do some 'maison-stalking' and have a look at some interiors in real French houses that are currently for sale. I confess I kept to a realistic budget but I did make sure that they were homes that were currently inhabited. There were certain trends, some of which I'd seen in gites and hotels we've stayed in over the years. Ceilings with floral wallpaper, often a different pattern to that on the walls.

At least it's the same on the ceiling & walls



Maybe they just had a few rolls left over?

 Wood cladding, used as insulation, on walls & ceilings.

Scandi-sauna style
 
 Strong colours are not relegated to a feature wall. Oh no, they can be anywhere and everywhere. But I think that I do admire their individuality. Not that I wouldn't itch to go through the whole house with white emulsion, but it does show a nation comfortable with their own style. There's no compulsion to re-decorate just because duck egg blue or mulberry or whatever is the latest trend.

Paint details everywhere





A touch of Provence maybe...



So what do you think? What's your favourite French style?

11 comments:

  1. Sharon, most ordinary French people (I'm not including those who live in chateaux or designer houses as that's not my world) will decorate their house once. And I mean once. And if that 'once' happened to be in the 70s or 80s, well, tant pis! The photos of on-the-market houses you've put up here are really rather tasteful by everyday rural French standards ...

    As to my favourite style - well, I don't have one, unless you count eclectic and a bit idiosyncratic! I like my home to be comfortable, light, and reflect who I am :)

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  2. As I said I quite admire the fact that they don't follow the whims of fashion and are living with a style that they're comfortable with. Having seen some photos of your living spaces they look great to me - relaxed, individual and with your personality coming through.

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  3. I'm with Kalba. But in fact, I don't see much individuality in French homes round here. I'll often tell Malcolm, if I've called on someone and been invited in, 'It was, you know, typically French'. By which I mean quite dark - gloomy even - with heavy furnishings and too many of them. And I know I don't need to describe further. Mal will have an appropriate picture in his head with the barest of information.

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    1. So Margaret it's true - this French look has been romantically conjured up by the non-French! I also think that they may be hoarders and can't bear to get rid of anything that may, one day, have a use.

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  4. Sharon,

    I have to say the wood cladding brings back terrible memories of my kitchen when I bought the house in 2000. At least they have used it vertically rather than diagonally as I experienced! The Toile de Juoy against the yellow wall is stunning ... I'm feeling inspired for my own bedroom now. May have to go through your mood boards next weekend!

    Carole

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    1. More than happy to do a bespoke mood board next weekend Carole!

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  5. I wasn't a fan of Toile de Juoy until I saw the second photo! That's exactly how I would like my bedroom to look :)

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    1. It's a lovely blend isn't it Sara? As your blog gives me so much pleasure I'm happy to do a concept board for you - and make sure I source everything in, say Aix en Provence!

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  6. I'm so with Margaret21. And I hadn't thought about them only decorating once! But so true.

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  7. Having seen the cost of paint in France Rosie I'm not surprised! BTW love your blog and desperately trying tp play catch up!

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