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What is the French design trend?

The French have always had an innate sense of style – since the great royal dynasties that preceded the French Revolution, France has been a byword for chic, opulent design and décor. From the appartements of Paris to the Riviera, French style is one of the most sought-after styles across the world. While it might seem slightly unattainable initially, it is a style accessible to everyone, regardless of their budgets and spaces.

History of French design

Between the 1600s and the mid-1800s, wealthy French often commissioned architects, artists and designers to build elaborate, ornate furniture, carvings and other decorative pieces for their homes. Those living in the French countryside couldn’t afford to do that, so they emulated them with versions in a more rustic style – prints and carvings were usually produced from heavier woods and burnished metals, with muted colours. Both designs spread rapidly throughout Europe and remain popular today as the contemporary French style.

Key features of the French design trend

Modern and Antique

Mix modern with antique

With such a rich history and an influential modern aesthetic, any French interior room worth its salt should do its best to find a seamless way of combining both. This will ensure resilience in the face of cyclical trends and fads. For instance, a room featuring modern art with a Louis XVI-style chaise longue or commode offers not only classic and stylish comfort, but a pop of contemporary décor that propels it into the 21st century.

Chaise Longue

Prioritise comfort

If there is one thing the French aristocracy prioritised above all else, it was comfort. Nothing but the finest furniture would do, and as a result the majority of French rooms use furniture as centrepieces – whether it’s four-poster beds in the bedrooms or the aforementioned chaise longue sofas in the living room, ensure that your main piece works with the space around it both functionally and aesthetically.

Gilding

Get gilding

Gilding is the ultimate feature of opulent design, which means it should be used sparingly lest you come across as an imitation Midas. Gilding is best employed as an accent, rather than a main feature – try using it around the edges of mirrors or painting frames, or even incorporated on chandeliers. If you get the balance right, it can give the room an unparalleled air of sophistication.

Shabby Chic

Shabby chic

The shabby chic style is best described as “French luxury gone to seed” – while ornate furnishings are a key feature, they are distressed to make them look like authentic period pieces when they’re not. Pastel colours tend to comprise the colour scheme, and pillows and curtains are made of linens and cottons. Rustic homes often adopt this style, though there is no reason why anyone has to miss out on incorporating such a romantic, relaxed look into their living areas.

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