Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

23 Sep 2017

French Interior Style - from my LUSH getaway

My recent week in the South West of France was spent at the most immaculately decorated 17th Century Manor, a place that I hope will not only be an influence for decorating in my next home, but also in yours.  So I've picked up a few key ideas and flavours for us to look at in terms of getting ideas of what to look out for if you go to France or even if you are just buying off the internet.

Mirrors and walls ... to add depth and contrast in any room, mirrors will play a key role in arranging the light. Using them to bounce natural light around is something I always do and I also find that mirrors come in such a variety of frames that they can make the eye move around an area.  Place one near a window and have it central to some pictures or wall sconces as above gives a focal point to this grouping (on this fabulous rough plaster/painted wall in pale pinky peach colour).  Group them together, making the spacing just right, I am completely in love with these small mirrors placed around the larger one and hope I can find a place to do this in my next house.

Old magazines are a great thing to watch out for on your travels, either keep a pile on the coffee table or use them as wallpaper in a small area like the toilet. They are lightweight and non-breakable too so can be carried back in luggage so easily.

Using colours in a different way. I found this manor has some interesting choices of colour combinations, ones that I wouldn't have thought of but will make me explore more.  Using dark paint instead of white gloss on frames and window ledges to continue a colour theme in a room, like here where they have stuck to a black and white wallpaper in the cloakroom and carried it through to the printed pages of magazines in the toilet.

Lighting - I find this the hardest thing to find. You will need a good ceiling height for a French chandelier of this size, however the overhead light does need to be in proportion to the room dimensions, so avoid a small ceiling light in a big room or it will look ridiculous. If you don't have original features like this ceiling rose, these can easily be added. There are still plenty of shops around selling plaster roses and coving which set off the central pendant light just perfectly.

French lace curtains are unlike any others. Forget the nylon nets that your grandma had and hunt down the cotton crochet ones which can still be found in French markets and on ebay. They are often really long for those tall French windows and can work perfectly as door curtains or to soften a wall arch. The ones below aren't exactly like this but do have a lovely lace trim and are beautiful for diffusing the light.

French beds are to die for but not that easy to track down or to make work. It's often possible to find the bedhead and foot board which you will need to set around your own bed base. Often with embroidered tapestry or like here, with rattan. Simple embroidered bedspread can be either an original one or maybe use a large table cloth as a cover for a light fresh look.

Another use for an embroidered table cloth is to cover an old bed head, or make your own from doilies and sheets, then fit it over your existing head board. A simple cover can transform a room. 

Keep a look out for interesting items to collect, like these soda syphons in the prettiest colours. Arrange with dried flowers or simple branches.

 You may have seen our feature in Reclaim magazine about re-purposing inside furniture to the outside. I had to smile when I saw this old cast iron oven being used as an outside table, the patina and rust working so perfectly with the stone walls.

At the Brantome Manor, every room was decorated differently and I'm so happy with the one I was given. Kim must have know that with it's unusual colour combinations of pale yellow and green, with stencilling of white roses in a few places, this is just my kind of room. I also loved that the beams were painted white and the furniture was something to be coveted.

It also showed me that rugs can take on a different look depending how you use them. Taken in isolation I would not have picked this green rug, nor overlayed it with another smaller one, but on the old wood floors and the way they were teamed up with the walls and furniture, it works so well. I will definitely broaden my outlook to old rugs from now on. If you choose one with a lot of pattern though, make sure you keep the rest of the room plain as nothing shouts Granny more than too many patterns.

Here's the links for Lush Getaways and if you are in the USA for Mignonne Decor in San Francisco where you can find help to track down French inspired pieces, some vintage accents and designer chairs.

Happy antiquing x

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