French Way with Design
Betty Lou Phillips
A new look is emerging in France’s apartments as well as its imposing chateaux and country manors. Along with signature pieces of national identity―such as finely crafted wood pieces, splendid mirrors, and grandmère’s well cared for linens―European mid-century modern furnishings also adorn settings in this age of merging sensibilities.
Homes photographed in France and the U.S. show abstract works of art mingling easily with painted furniture, budget-friendly finds from assorted cultures―such as wool rugs and handembroidered linens from India―and pottery, artisan-made pillows, throws and vintage textiles from remote markets in Morocco.
low-to-the-ground slipper chair—originally intended as a place for well-to-do women to put on their stockings and slippers, unhampered by the Victorian era’s structured underpinnings. Peonies, oil on linen, is by American artist Sarah K. Lamb. No question: peonies with ruffled frames stand out from the crowd, whether in the garden, at a flower stand, or a warming setting with a burst of color. A custom headboard, impressively hand-tufted and upholstered in understated Perennials, brings uptown
living where old meets new. Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte favored Naples yellow and used stripes lavishly in decorating both his state and private apartments. Reinforcing the far-from-opulent mood of today, D & D Drapery, Houston, fabricated the window treatment with a Schumacher print. Two large coffee tables pushed together make a bold, functional statement when within reach of sofas and chairs. With both the living room and the breakfast room opening onto the veranda, the two joined forces to
including supplies for the artists in residence. “Let them eat cake.” Clearly, Marie Antoinette never uttered those words. This tale first appeared in Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau, two years before Marie Antoinette arrived in France. At age fourteen, Maria Antonia was ill prepared for the strong resentment her Austrian roots stirred. In a political alliance arranged by her ambitious mother, she obediently married Louis August, the future Louis XVI in 1770. Mixed media on paper is by
requests: specifying styles, shapes and proportions in such detail as to leave little doubt about their wishes suggests the confidence they have in their own good taste, which is, of course, an extension of their identity. Never mind that ancestral furniture and objets d’art delivered with alluring backstories conspire to make seeking expert help unnecessary. The French are the first to admit it. Without fail, settings start with furnishings handed down from one generation to the next,
For them, a bedroom “suite” or so-called dining room “set” with wood finishes boringly alike would be too dismal to contemplate. In homes that want for nothing, disparate elements, each with its own centuries-long résumé, come together in a predictably sophisticated fashion. F Interiors must represent a culture that shuns haughty excess. Layering the unassuming with that more grand—or if you will, integrating princely furnishings with humble finds every bit as intriguing—makes it clear that