A French living room may conjure up a dozen different images; the French have been at the forefront of interior design for centuries. Whether a person wants a salon reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, a rustic drawing room that recalls the countryside, or a modern homage to all things Paris, a French living room can be the distinct and stylish answer. Learning about the traditions, history, and materials common in French interior design can help an ambitious home designer create the perfect French living room.
The palace of Versailles was the height of fashion and style for the entirety of the Middle Ages in France. When people think of palatial design, they are generally thinking of the opulence of French palaces. To create a palatial French living room, start with the floors and walls.
Patterned hardwood floors in oak or walnut and white walls with gilded trims and borders are classical examples of period French design. Seating, like sofas or chaise lounges, is ornately carved wood and furnished with luxurious cushions in velvet, bold colorful stripes, or soft floral patterns. Add a thick, floral area rug and tables that match the tone and style of the main couch or loveseat. Add a final flourish with reproduction period French artwork. Ideally, lighting should involve a grand chandelier.
What is considered “country French” design is actually based more on the upper class's idea of a rustic countryside existence. The color palette is warm and inviting, with creams, sunny yellows, and even pure reds. Furniture should be largely wood-constructed, painted, and often distressed to give it a vintage flair. Curtains are generally homemade in appearance and can be lacy. Add a few brightly colored jugs filled to bursting with wildflowers, and the transformation to a country French living room is complete.
Of course, a French living room need not match a particular design aesthetic but can instead be an expression of a love for France. Consider blending Art Deco furnishings with modern touches, turning the room into a Parisian flat. Fill bookshelves with French language books and histories of the country, add coffee table books with pictures of France for easy perusal. Use artwork to flavor the whole room, from vintage French travel posters to iconic black and white photographs of the Eiffel Tower. Making an “I love France” French living room can make entering the room feel like the first day of a vacation.