A French Touch: Decorating with French Provincial Accents A French Touch: Decorating with French Provincial Accents
A main component of French Provincial style is attention to details. Beaucoup items on the small side lead to a big look. Think small buttons and beads, tiny frames, vintage postcards, ribbon work and basketry. This isn't formal French design with its illustrious chandeliers - this is style that is apparent in the charming French countryside and provincial towns. Beautiful trinkets in a lovely array of colors and props that might naturally be found in a French farmhouse equal a décor that is not only beautiful, but fun to reproduce in your own house.
Color is a great way to approach a new design. For French Provincial, choose muted shades that look as though they've been through seasons of sun and rain - not so much washed out, as pale. Sage green, pale pink, cornflower blue and ivory make for good choices. For a bolder palette, consider chocolate browns and brick red. Because of the great bounty of the French countryside, strict adherence to one color or a certain color scheme is not necessary, and not typical of this type of décor. All these colors work well together and their appearance together is reminiscent of French country cottages.
Color is important because it adorns everything from the walls to the furniture. A hardwood floor is characteristic French Provincial, but the addition of soft rugs in muted shades will add a comforting touch to the décor. Fabric may showcase these colors in a wide array of patterns from floral to idyllic French scenery. Consider these patterns for draperies, slipcovers and tapestries. Pillows in such fabrics will also add a desired French touch - don't shy away from embellishments of beads, faux pearls, ribbon and lace for these items. You may even hang an embellished piece of fabric as wall art - a panel of birds and flowers or lovers enjoying a country picnic for instance.
Of course, wall art can convey French scenery that will really showcase the spirit of French Provincial. Consider an eye-popping landscape for above the mantle: a French farmhouse, a French water garden, a French town scene showing the boulangerie and various cafes. As France is noted for its scenic beauty, prints will not be difficult to find. However, don't limit you art to landscapes. Consider framing vintage postcards or old advertisements. Art Nouveau posters of theatre performances and ads will add considerable French charm to a kitchen or family room.
Apart from pictures, you may also want to consider hanging romantic lamps with beaded or fringed lampshades, pewter sconces sporting homemade candles, bouquets of dried flowers tied with scraps of ribbon, baskets of all shapes and sizes and lots of shelves for a hodge-podge of eclectic items that convey French style.
Whenever possible, showcase items that have French labels. These subtle accents - a candy tin, a perfume bottle, a bottle of wine - will go a long way in displaying stylish details. You may even want to consider making or stenciling your own labels. A row of glass candy jars may be labeled with the French names for candy, chocolate and mints. A tin of French confectionaries can adorn the kitchen table along with a plate of Anjou pears and a French chocolate candy bar. Other touches include covering such jars with burlap and fabric as a lid and then tying with ribbon.
Small touches can be added to every room - a plate featuring a French girl holding a bouquet of lavender, antique botanical prints for the bedroom or living room, draperies tied with bows, bottles of water sporting single buds, canvas tablecloths of French flowers, pottery animals like birds, rustic objects found at flea markets, etc. An old cabinet finished with some new French shelf paper makes for a charming prop. Look for old books about France to find details that appeal to you that you can readily incorporate into your décor.
French style is broad enough to accommodate your own style, too. Careful attention to detail, lots of pretty embellishments, and love of beauty will go a long way to helping you create your very own corner of the French countryside.