While there are many ways to interpret French-style interiors, certain decor elements remain a must. If you’re looking to add a little French flair to your home, we show you how to achieve that je ne sais quoi in every room.
The French are known for their incredible food, so it's no surprise that a French kitchen is one of the most desirable interior looks. To get the look, start with red and white striped tea towels, French linen napkins and wicker baskets (for freshly baked baguettes or to store your cutlery in).
A small chandelier works well in a French kitchen, supplemented by downlights. For a modern look, whitewashed furniture with a bench for seating adds character, while in a more traditional space, a French sofa works just as well.
French kitchens are busy without being cluttered. Opt for display cabinets with glass doors to show off your crockery, or fill up open shelves with plates, vintage baking trays and cake pans. Don't hide your pots and pans away either. Instead of a crystal chandelier, hang your pans from a light fitting over your kitchen island where they'll be easily accessible.
If you want to stray away from the neutral colours associated with French decor, go for pops of blue and red. When it comes to clocks, glass candle holders (left) and cake cloches (right), oversized is best.
The French love a glass of wine! Create a dedicated wine space, like these wine racks which frame a window and act as a shelf for the flowers on top. Where there are bare spaces, fill them with fresh flowers.
Begin with soft colours (think cream, beige, grey and duck egg blue) and Toile de Jouy or striped fabric for your upholstery and curtains.
For a slightly more opulent look, include a large crystal chandelier, Louis salon chairs and other intricately carved and gilded furniture and accessories. Moulding on walls, cornices and fireplaces give you a vintage feel.
Tapestries framed in gold and a half-moon table add to the ornate look. Display flowers in a decorative urn rather than a glass vase.
A scalloped bell shaped lampshade, French themed cushions and accessories can be combined to create two very different looks as shown below.
For a less ornate, French countryside look, paint your furniture in paler shades of blue, giving it a slightly weathered look. To do this at home, follow these instructions from our DIY expert, Deon de Goede:
- Lightly sand the wood to remove most of the oil or other layers.
- Apply an undercoat.
- Paint the furniture with PVA in the colour of your choice.
- Once the paint has dried, sand with a 60 grit sandpaper.
- A sealer is not necessary. Clean with a regular polish spray.
Create your own french fine dining experience at home. Display your best silver cutlery, French napkins and of course, a cloche housing a beautifully baked tart.
Add to the look with crystal glasses, vases and decanters.
Gilded mirror frames, candelebras and old books under a gold chandelier look wonderfully French.
When you're done drinking your finest wine, save the bottle to use as a candle holder. Let your teacups double up as part of your flower display.
Again, choose soft colours with floral detail, as well as French motifs on pillows and cushions. Indulge in a dresser with all your pretty perfume bottles on display, as well as a comfortable seating area.
Bring French luxury into a practical space by adding candles, flowers, beautifully framed mirrors, quality bath products, gold accents, a freestanding clawfoot bath tub and of course, a chandelier.
Gardens and outdoors
France has some of the most spectacular gardens in the world. Recreate the look of a French garden with a neat manicured garden, peppered with water fountains, stone angels and cherubs as well as roses in abundance.
Wrought iron furniture and candles create spaces within the garden to have a cup of tea and read a book.
Plant lavender directly onto the ground or in pots for a French countryside feel. Extend the look to your house by painting a large double door purple.
Quick French updates
If you can't completely redecorate your home, get creative with existing furniture and accessories.
Instead of French furniture, replace the standard door handles in your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom furniture with crystal knobs.
Rather than redoing your upholstery, keep your furniture neutral and incorporate French patterns through wallpaper.
Search markets and thrift stores for antiques or pieces such as lamps, vases and candle holders that you can update with gold leaf.