As the Tour de France gets ready to sweep into the UK this July we’re adoring anything with a Gallic influence – and French-inspired furniture is proving a race-leader for many designers.
Rather than looking overly saccharin-sweet and styled, it’s the French provincial style and its shabby chic edge that’s proving a real hit – it’s casually stylish and easy to live with.
Shapely lines, curved and carved legs and other decorative details define French Provincial furniture, and luxurious fabrics are a keynote – to go all-out for the Gallic style, stick to soft florals and classic stripes.
Painted pieces should look distressed, as if they’ve enjoyed years of wear and use, so bypass shiny metals and lacquered finishes in favour of a more lived-in, country chateau look.
For a boudoir extraordinaire the Ornans range is lovely, with its shapely, scalloped lines and white painted finish. Slightly more understated than some other lines of French inspired furniture, the distressed style is achieved through a hand finishing process which is spot-on for a French provincial feel.
The Ornans double bed and wardrobe with their scalloped edges inspire a rustic, romantic feel, and look great matched with pretty pastels and soft fabrics.
Additionally, the Celeste three-drawer chest is the perfect example of the chic-yet-casual style with its clean lines and an elegant, aged patina. The combination of the oak top and the greyish colour gives the piece a distinguished air – it’s a beautiful tribute to Parisian apartments a la 21st century.
We all know the French are magnifique when it comes to food, so it’s rather nice if we can also reflect their style in our dining rooms. The Carisbrooke dining range is made from reclaimed pine, carefully painted white in a smooth stucco finish to give a hint of rustic appeal.
Add a stylish dresser, and you’re truly on the way to dining a la France – just add some gorgeous food and wine!
As with most interior styles, the furniture provides the infrastructure and direction, but the accessories and background are crucial to complete the look.
For walls, seek out cool, matt grey-greens and creams; a touch of duck-egg blue won’t go amiss, and it’s wise to choose classic patterns such as toile de jouy rather than trying to introduce anything too geometrical.
This is a simple but comfortable look, so soften the woodwork with lovely touches such as the Marble cushion with its delicate tracery of veins – warm woollen throws on sofas are also good.
A touch of vintage also goes well, and I absolutely love the Newgate Bordeaux Clock. As its name suggests, it’s French-inspired and looks as though it’s come straight from a rural railway station. The clock – made of tin – is an impressive half-metre in diameter and would make a retro statement in any room.
We know the Tour de France won’t be with us for long – but at least we can keep the French vibe alive to enjoy in our homes for years to come!