I looooove a dash of France in my home. It makes me feel chic and fabulous. It reminds me of my travels to the bucolic hillsides of Provence and the charm of the French Riviera where Al and I spent our honeymoon a year and a half ago. That whole trip was so breathtakingly beautiful it inspired me. France now reminds me of luxury, bliss, love and uncontained joy. I think the photos taken while we were there capture that feeling.
When I got back home, I thought, “How can I keep the French spirit alive in my life?” (You know, like “Keep Hope Alive?”) And I discovered that adding a bit of la voie française to your life doesn’t have to be trop cher (too expensive) or too tedious. It’s actually pretty easy and tons of fun. Here are some things I did that will hopefully spark a little love of French in your space.
Where to start?
Start with color and fabric textures and patterns. Muted colors like pinks, yellows, and deep reds, blues, and greens are fabulous accent colors to mix with neutrals like beige, cream, antique white, and grays. (My faves.)
Or, another chic idea is to go with black and white, with black as your accent color on piping, picture frames, or pillows, for example. I love accenting black and white with a dab of hot fuchsia too! It’s how I ended up with a fabulous Ooh La La pillow and this overstuffed fuchsia Loughborough Antoinette arm chair in the guestroom/office in our Chicago condo to compliment my floral Cynthia Rowley desk.
Where else can you do it?
In the Kitchen:
In the kitchen, think rustic. I started with some French Country counter stools and a French Country table in our great room at the lake house. It’s where we cook, eat, and just hang out. They have the counter stools at the World Market and more expensive ones at Restoration Hardware. I went for the more expensive ones because of the color options. Click on either of the stool links, and see if you can add a bit of French Country to your kitchen or dining room space.
Now, I didn’t mess around when it came time to add a dining room table. I have a huge extended family so I need a table that will allow us to ALL sit around it at the same time. Kathu Kuo to the rescue! The table I ended up with has a total of five—count them FIVE—leaves you can add so it ends up 132” long. LOVE! There really is room for all of us.
If you’re not trying to add furniture, then consider a butcher-block centerpiece for your counter or table from Bed Bath and Beyond, or your local HomeGoods store as an easy and inexpensive addition. It might be just the touch of quaintness you need to satiate your desire to have something new for no other reason than you want something, well, new! I suppose you could whitewash mismatched chairs and add checkered seat cushions in a color you like. But, screech – if you’re like me, you ain’t no DYI girl! So stick to the brick and mortar or web stores that make all of this easy for you.
Pottery Barn usually has nice items you can catch a little French Country sumthin’ sumthin’ on sale, like these Pottery Barn linen striped napkins. Plan your visit around the holidays. Easter, Memorial Day. But if you see something at the HomeGoods, you need to snatch it up right then and there because I promise you it won’t be there when you come back tomorrow!
Have a window seat or breakfast nook? What a magnifique opportunity to add a ruffled half-curtain to your window, a patterned seat cushion, flowers in an old ceramic or brass pot, or maybe a chandelier! I told y’all earlier in the year, I’m all about chandeliers in the kitchen. At my lake house, I have FIVE of them in there. I purchased four of this simple chandie for $225 a piece at Arhaus and then grouped them over the countertop for a dramatically simple look.
J’adore mason jars just for the pure authenticity they lend to a room. You can use them for your dry goods, or pick up some flowers from the grocery store around the corner, cut off the stems, add water, and Voila! You have instant French appeal. And the flowers cost you, what, $12.99? You don’t have to spend a lot to make your place look chic or shabby. That’s also the added appeal of French Country.
In the Living Room:
Kathy Kuo Home – Since this is the second reference to this site in one post, can you tell that I just ADORE this store! Yep, she’s expensive. (I’m still coveting this chaise lounge, but I refuse to plunk down the more than FOUR THOUSAND dollars a pop she wants for each one. See, I’m all about symmetry so I’d need TWO. BUT, lucky for you, I’ve scouted everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) and found some French country chaises that I also added to our cottage by the lake, for a fraction of the cost! I nabbed them at Value City Furniture. But one of these days, don’t be surprised if you see those Kathy Kuo chaises sitting in one of my houses!
But for now, this is what you’ll find at the cottage/lake house.
Anything wrought iron or distressed (like benches or tables or mirrors) also pop in living rooms. Thrifting is an inexpensive way to find these items and make your space feel fresh. Take your little behind on out to your local thrift stores, garage sales, furniture store clearance rooms, or flea markets for low-cost distressed sideboards, dressers, tables and mirrors and other accent pieces. Al humored me for an entire day when we were in Nice, France, ‘cause we did nothing more than hang out at its flea market. For you divas who aren’t trying to mess up your fresh mani, be on the lookout for furniture that doesn’t need any work. I love playing “I Spy Pieces You Can Just Plop Into Your Room As Is.” I actually found this beautiful gold candelabra for fifty US dollars when we were in Spain at a flea market. But it plays right into my French theme.
When I was redoing the condo’s guest bedroom I mentioned earlier, I needed to paint Al’s bachelor dresser black. No way was I gonna try to do it myself! So if you nab a piece of furniture you love that needs to be sanded and painted for a nice re-purposed look, do what I do: call Task Rabbit! If you need something done in or around your house, honey, they do it All. ALL, I say! They are my answer for so many things in life. I promise you will love me for introducing them to you. I’ve had them paint my walls (a tasker did the black and white stripped walls in the guest room). They’ve cleaned and decluttered under my bathroom sink. Organized my closet. Moved furniture for me. They are fantastic and hassle free. If they’re in your city, there is someone who can make all of your DYI projects come to life, without you having to do more than lifting a finger to hit the “send” key on your computer!
While you’re out there thrifting, be on the lookout for vintage aristocratic portraits. I have a friend who finds portraits she loves then has a local artist paint them so they look African-American! I love that about her! And I love her idea even more. (But be sure you find someone who really has a talent for painting!)
You also can’t go wrong with those customary prints with French words or French motifs. Just don’t overdo it. A little French goes a long way. You want to look chic, not chintzy and cheesy. And stay away from the whole cow thing. That’s just country. Nothing French about it.
I framed three posters I picked up on Etsy.com in frames I got on sale at Michael’s for about $2 each and put them in my laundry room. Now, I’m in a blissful state of mind whenever I’m washing funky socks and underwear!
And Al, yes AL, picked out this French-looking cork board at a Cracker Barrel of all places! It hangs right at home in our glamorous looking dining room/kitchen.
In the Bedroom:
A wrought iron bed frame is a nice start! Or check out this Regents Park distressed bedroom set I found at Value City Furniture for the Parisian-themed guest room at the cottage. I added a soft green and red floral curtain from Wayfair, a beautiful soft pink quilt from Pottery Barn, and an old antique-looking radio I purchased twenty years ago at a now-defunct Kmart. This room is now my favorite guest room in the house!
Wherever I turn in any of my living spaces, there is a wee bit of France there transporting me back to a state of love and joy. Because after all, isn’t that where we should live constantly, even if within our own minds?
Psst, need even MORE inspiration? Aller à Pinterest! My favorite!