The French are well known for having a certain casual yet cool style when it comes to clothing, but they also have an effortlessly chic way with home interiors. We are all spending more time at home than ever before and as we tentatively start to open up (‘back to normal’ still feels a while away yet), we have put together a simple guide to help you add a French touch to your home; small details and statement pieces that will work well in the modern contemporary home or the more traditional.
Rest assured, you do not have to go all out like we did in our own home!
1. Adopt the laissez-faire attitude
Laissez-faire in French means to let it be. This laid-back approach to life in general is an integral part of French culture, and commonly manifests itself in French interiors. You may have noticed that French homes are never too curated or too perfect – they simply strike the perfect balance between textures, colours and shapes. This can be achieved by mixing styles, including vintage / traditional antiques, with modern pieces.
Add texture with a patterned or neutral rug, layer fabrics or display mix matched cushions on your furniture. Display ornaments (or bibelots in French) from your travels, plants or your favourite books around the room; on top of your storage space, on your coffee table or on a discreet console table.
All these elements do not have to be perfectly shaped or have the same colour, as they will help to create a unique and elegant space.
2. Create a focal point with a large mirror
On a fireplace, on a wall or standing on the floor, no French living room or bedroom is complete without a large mirror. In our home we have mirrors everywhere – not for vanity (!), but because we think they are like hanging art. Some of the antique mirrors we find have visible signs of ageing known as ‘foxing’ creating beautiful intricate patterns. A mirror adds personality and a focal point to a room, and creates dimension, making the room feel more spacious. For the French look, it works best with a clean white wall and wooden floors.
3. Statement furniture: Less is more!
The walls may be white, but the furniture doesn’t have to be! Adding colour adds character and instant French vibes, with simple pieces in strong and complementary colours.
We buy pieces often for their shape, even if they need to be completely reupholstered, but we also buy more plainer items, such as a simple shaped fireside chair for its stunning red tapestry upholstery. A simple piece of furniture with a bold fabric can be just as sophisticated and striking as a uniquely shaped item with a neutral fabric.
If you’re looking to add a bit of charm or finesse to a space, statement pieces are ideal because they allow you to be bold without needing to fill the room with different items. A classic example of the less is more approach and a staple in French interiors.
4. Add greenery and flowers
Another essential for the French inspired home is greenery and flowers. They don’t have to be fresh; we have some wonderful dried and silk flowers we use for decoration in the showroom and at home. These can last for years and are a great alternative if you don’t have green fingers but want to add some colour to a space. We also have lots of house plants in interesting French planters, as well as some are in other objects that we are using as planters – like this former fairground carousel boat (below, left) turned into a charming planter. We love to improvise!
5. The quick win: rugs, cushions and throws
Mixing modern furniture with some antiques is a great way to introduce the French look into your home and one of the easiest ways to achieve this is by using antique or vintage soft furnishings.
Rugs, cushions and throws add texture and softness to your space, creating a more welcoming atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to have two or three bold colours among your soft furnishings, to spice up any neutral elements (such as your sofa, walls or floors). Alternatively, if you have bold colours on the wall or furniture, soft neutral fabrics will balance out the different tones in the room – a quick an easy win!
There are plenty of companies now selling vintage-inspired rugs and patterned cushions, like French Connection, Anthropologie, and even Etsy which offers a selection of original pieces.
6. Light up your space with a chandelier
When you think of French interiors, a chandelier will most likely feature somewhere in that space. French chandeliers range massively in style and price. From mid-century lighting, to older crystal drop chandeliers or a more contemporary look, the French chandelier covers it all.
We really love antique chandeliers for their presence and character. We have small ones with cherubs in our guest room, small 1920’s ones with droplets in our bathroom and a large imposing one in our living room. If you’re looking to add unique pieces of French lighting to your home, check our wide range of lights here.
Creating a French-inspired interior doesn’t always require revamping your entire space. You can simply add some interesting trinkets, a unique statement piece, or bring more attention to your soft furnishings through layering and mixing bold and neutral tones. Remember, it’s your space where the pressure of perfection doesn’t exist!
If you’ve tried out these tips and tricks, we’d love to see what you’ve done! Share your photos on Instagram and tag @thefrenchhouseyork or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in one of our posts!