Bring timeless French style into your home

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •October 8, 2016

Inspired by an antique she found in Paris, Susan Kasler’s bookcase from Ballard Designs is finished in the classic Louis style with fluted details and hand carved florettes. Perfect for your favorite books. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

On my desk, I have a card that says: “I often dream that my life is just as it is now…only I have well-behaved hair and I live in Paris.”

And all of this is true. To live in a dreamy (small) apartment in Paris, I can just see it: White walls (the light is great). Beautiful billowing drapes that puddle on the floor. Huge antique gilded mirror that is propped against the wall. A few antique pieces here and there. French armoires to hold my clothes. Artwork on the walls and lots of books on a small bookcase. A tiny bathroom with a claw foot tub. A cornflower blue kitchen with a table for guests (separate dining room not necessary). High ceilings and French doors that open to a small terrace. And a view of the Eiffel Tower. Especially that.

Casual elegance with creamy white walls. Moldings. Architectural elements. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Okay, I am awake now but it’s a beautiful dream that I thought about a lot when I was in Paris several weeks ago.

Let’s face it, when it comes to fashion and interior décor, the French get it.

They make it all look effortless. Thrown together. Très chic.

I found myself searching for that “it” that the French have for making it all look stylish and easy.

You don’t need to be born in Paris to have Parisian style. -Ines de la Fressange, model, face of Chanel, author of Paris Chic.

Designed in the timeless Louis XV style, this classic French bergere chair looks fresh for today dressed in double piped, flaxen cotton. Frame is crafted of solid oak with fluted scrolling arms, serpentine skirt and cabriole legs. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

And you don’t have to be born in Paris to have it. Although it helps. You don’t set out to have French style. It just evolves.  It’s about timeless beauty. Much of its simplicity is already in our homes and we can, with a few simple steps, include more.

Whether inspired by visits to Paris or the countryside or from daydreaming with decorating magazines, your home can be a tranquil retreat inspired by some of the best of French style.

A few French décor starter tips

Drapes (silk or linen) that puddle to the floors. In a bold color.

Offset the shininess of contemporary furnishings with older, more traditional pieces.

Don’t be afraid to leave something “undone.”

In the classic Louis Philippe style, the iconic rounded shoulders and squared base of this Louis Mirror strike a perfect balance between casual curves and crisply tailored lines. Composite frame with beveled glass. The orb chandelier features an openwork sphere of hand wrought iron surrounding six upright globe lights to illuminate your space in a dining room, living room or entry. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

In the classic Louis Philippe style, the iconic rounded shoulders and squared base of this Louis Mirror strike a perfect balance between casual curves and crisply tailored lines. Composite frame with beveled glass. The orb chandelier features an openwork sphere of hand wrought iron surrounding six upright globe lights to illuminate your space in a dining room, living room or entry. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Create a clean, spa look in the bathroom with toile wallpaper, marble tile, claw foot bathtub is optional.

Add a huge, beautiful mirror.

And whether you are a Francophile or a homeowner looking for a calmer, timeless interior, you may enjoy trying a few of the following tips:

Simplicity. It’s about keeping things uncomplicated. We often need this reminder. 

Collect from earlier times. Used pieces that have been passed down. Architectural salvage. 

The rustic weathered finish of this zinc framed mirror reminds us of the metal flower pots you see outside the country houses of southern France. The mirror has wide bevel for light-catching contrast. Frame is hand crafted of galvanized metal and may be hung or leaned on a wall.  Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Characteristics.  Clean and simple. Casual and comfortable. Calm, relaxed style, no fussing.

Classic. Rooms that flow (perfect with Southwest Florida’s open floor plans). Mix elegant and casual to make it all work. Blend antiques/modern/vintage. Shop yard sales, flea markets, antique shops.

Minimal decorating. A few scratches are fine: character. Blend old with new. Iron scrollwork on stairway and doors. Lots of light. Arches.

Quiet, neutral color palette with hints of color. Creamy white walls with small accents in art and accessories.

A touch of gold. Add a gilded framed mirror or a gold sunburst mirror.

Add some sparkle. A crystal chandelier in powder room, bedroom or closet. Or anywhere! 

Marble. Countertops to balance out the wood.

Bottom line: Fill your home with what you love. This is always true. You can make your home a tranquil retreat inspired by a bit of the French style. 

Eiffel-tower-paris

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her column appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog