Authentic French Style: A Step-by-Step Approach

In France, each region has a distinct architectural and decorative style, with its own set of rules and codes. Every product is available year-round in France, but each area retains a distinct identity, sense of belonging, and cultural identity that can be difficult to overcome. 

The various styles in France may not be what you think they are if you look closely enough.

Myth: It’s all about how much you have.

You’re not totally wrong if you think that Versailles is the most French thing ever. This may have been true during the reign of Louis XIV, when the royal family spent a lot of money and got drunk a lot. However, the bad habits of the monarchs led to their downfall.

Fact: Moderation is the key.

French style is all about moderation, whether in how they decorate their homes or how they dress.

It’s all about well-thought-out design that tries to find a balance between being unique and doing so in a subtle, quiet way. It needs to look easy.

Even in children’s bedrooms, they keep things simple: a simple color scheme and a few carefully chosen accessories make for a clean-looking space that’s easy to change as the child grows.

Myth: Luxury is the essence of life.

The French prefer high-end products that don’t look expensive. They prefer antique stone, pre-washed linen, and weathered wood over glitzy materials like marble, travertine, polished mahogany, gold brocade, or fine silk. They don’t mind used or cheap decor if it looks good.

FACT: It’s all about harmony.

For the French, ostentatious finishes are vulgar and tasteless, whereas elegance and beauty are found in restraint and harmony. This doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate quirkiness or luxury; they merely don’t like items or materials that scream, “Hey there, look at me!”. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or not; it’s still tacky. French homes are usually smaller than other homes, so they like practical, innovative, and beautiful things. There’s too little room for useless items! 

Everything should be either practical or beautiful, if not both.

They emphasize the quality and authenticity of materials like stone, terracotta, wood, plaster, iron, and steel. Old, new, crisp, or washed linen is probably their favorite fabric because it looks luxurious without being flashy. It’s never perfect, but it works everywhere.

Myth: All French houses are white. 

Many believe French homes are white temples. In France, white is the standard building color, but French people don’t mind mixing it up.

Fact: The French love neutrals, but they don’t mind colors either.

The French color palette includes beige, white, grey, black, light blue, brown, taupe, and sage. Most patterns are architectural or structural, not textile.

The French like bright, attention-grabbing colors that stand out. They keep space simple by using two or three similar colors.

They use colors to create zones in a one-room apartment or reduce clutter and create harmony in a larger home. 

Popular accent colors include peacock blue, lime green, hot pink, terracotta orange, mustard yellow, and red. Accent colors can vary by location.

Myth: You can find provincial style anywhere, even in Paris.

No, it is not entirely a lie. The French country exists. The pro is the name for anywhere in France other than Paris. That includes small towns, villages, and big cities. As has been said before, France is a diverse country because of its traditions and geography. It means that the provincial style varies from one place to the next.

The provincial style features whitewashed furniture and wood, wrought-iron details, lime-rendered walls, and terracotta or sandstone floors. It’s rustic yet chic, but it needs powerful architectural elements to shine; it might look bland in a “generic” suburban home. Many French people like this style, but they use it to accent a more modern setting. 

Fact: They like rusticity, not clichés.

French people hate clichés, and a predictable, bland, or tacky interior decorated in the same style would be dull. The French provincial style uses natural materials like linen, wood, wrought iron, and stone in a modern way. Modern basins, mirrors, and taps give a traditional home with soaring ceilings, an antique terracotta floor, and ticking bedding a contemporary edge.

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