Modern French Interior Design!
Welcome to the world of the Modern French Design Style!
We have now arrived at the Modern French Interior Design Style – hands down, my favorite style with this category of formal styles. If I ever get lucky to have a second home all to myself I’ll decorate it in Modern French Style.
The Modern French style is sophisticated, bold, elegant, and very chic. It’s important to know that this style is distinct and different from the French country or rustic French styles you may know. The Modern French style is at its core about exuding an air of effortless elegance without too much fussiness and definitely cannot be accused of overdoing it. The style shows the perfect amount of decorating restraint and some would say a very nonchalant attitude towards decorating and very importantly with this style, your goal should be to create your original flair.
Before we get into the article, I’d like to lay out the important general characteristics of Modern French Style:
- Exudes an air of effortless elegance
- Mixes traditional and contemporary furniture
- Nearly always uses traditional architecture, including elaborate moldings
- Always includes one dramatic element in a room
for reference, previous content links are mentioned below
So let’s go ahead and dive right in.
Furniture Characteristics of the Modern French Style
It is very much like the English country style i.e., it is about mixing the old with the new. Just like with the English country style you must mix pieces from different periods in your Modern French-style home to stay true to this style.
This style is a mix of classic French curved pieces like the classic Bergere chair, the cabriolet sofa or settee, or a Louis XV chair. Combine that with a low profile, clean line contemporary sofa. French antiques like those you can pick up at flea markets are a must with the French style. But again, make sure you mix those with some more contemporary pieces to strike the right decorating chord. Pieces from the Art Deco period like the great cocktail cabinet are particularly quite at home in the Modern French style.
One of the classic pieces you will see in this style is the armoire. Unlike the Americans, the French generally don’t have large walk-in closets so instead, they have the very chic, beautiful ubiquitous armoire for their clothes.
Another classic French furniture piece is a state, such as a Louis XVI or a Rococo inspired settee. Both would be fantastic choices and the beauty is that there are plenty of great reproductions available for the cost of the real thing.
Finally, settees are so versatile you can use them as part of a seating arrangement in your living room or you can also use it at your dining room table to break up that sea of chairs that most people typically have around their dining room table. For a coffee table consider using an antique trunk, this is both very chic and practical as well.
Now one main point that I would like to make about furniture in the Modern French Style is that the focus is on quality and not quantity.
Remember this style is about showing some restraint and truly believes in the motto, less is more, so invest in fewer high-quality furniture pieces that mix classic French antiques or antique reproductions with some contemporary pieces to create the perfect Modern French home.
Now in terms of materials, what you will see in the Modern French style is, first, beautiful rich woods for your tables, armoires, and other case good pieces.
In terms of fabrics, furniture is often covered in linen, cotton, leather, and velvet. Use a mix of textures to create depth and interest in your Modern French home. However, unlike the English Country style, definitely avoid fringe and ruffles and any sort of floral fabrics.
Colors and Pattern Scheme Used:
This style is all about neutral colors i.e., warm white, cream, beige, gray, light blue, or very light pink with black and gold as fabulous accent colors. This type of color palette creates a calm but elegant feeling to the home.
For the walls, white will nearly be your choice for this style every time. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a pop of bright color. consider using a pop red, blue, or fuchsia in an accent chair, a piece of artwork, or some accessories. You will see patterns used in the Modern French Style, although not as heavily used as we saw in the Traditional and English Country styles.
What you will typically see in Modern French style is toile de joy, which means “fabric from Jouy” or Jouy – en – Josas, a town in the Southwest of French near Versailles. Generally, Toile is a fabric that originated in France in the 19th century and is essentially a white or offwhite fabric that has complex scenes printed on it in repetition. Now the scene is often pastoral one, which you may know, but do also know that these scenes usually refer to the major event that happened during that time. Also, toile typically uses just one color in its pattern often black, blue, or red.
Now apart from toile, you will also see tiny patterns on delicate fabric in the Modern French style.
Window Designs Used:
Window coverings – this is where I think the French especially get it right. This style commonly uses beautiful but very simple floor to ceiling silk, linen, or high-quality cotton drapes that pool on the floor for that casual elegant feel. If privacy is a concern, I would recommend using flat roman shades underneath those simple paneled drapes.
Like with the choice for window coverings, the floor in a herringbone pattern, or any style and finish of wood flooring, or parquet floors, or elaborate tile floors. Particularly to the Modern French style is the use of a more elaborate flooring in the entrance of the home. Think marble, mosaic, or stone.
On top of these beautiful floors, you will often see sumptuous silk or wool rugs or a natural fiber rug such as jute or sisal and even classic but also stylish zebra rug.
In Modern French style, you may guess that crystal chandeliers are very common and you are right, but so are other types of chandeliers as well. There’s a French Empire, wrought iron, or even Art Deco-inspired chandeliers. Sconces of all types are very common as well in nearly all rooms of the homes. For table lamps, try a crystal lamp with a black shade.
Remember this style is about restraint. So it’s on to see a completely blank wall, which is an art in itself as well. This goes along with leaving something undone and avoid being over-styled at all costs. So if it’s not a blank wall then it could be wrinkled bed lines perhaps or even a chipped piece of furniture.
And finally, if you have access to flea markets then they perhaps should be your first stop. They would be mine budget-wise, think of the Modern French in the same price category as traditional and English country. You’re likely going to have to spend a little more money at least on some of the key pieces in the room to help this room feel authentic but can likely save some money in areas like lighting and your accent pieces.
So, that’s it for this one.
Stay tuned for the next.