The Styles of
French Country Furniture exemplifies relaxed yet sophisticated living, referring to a lifestyle rather than a specific period in French history.
The style is a mix of antiques drawing from different time periods in France, but more so from the 18th century during the reign of the three King Louis', when country french furniture design was strongly influenced by the courts of Versailles.
Furniture was very masculine, often large, elaborately carved, gilded and decorated.
Soft pastels were much loved by the beautiful mistress, including damasks and velvets, along with curvy furniture made for comfort, as hospitality and entertaining was of supreme importance to her.
The Rococo period is the most popular today due to its easy style and charm, translating well into modern day interiors.
Styles were also influenced by the popularity of Greco-Roman antiquities due to the discovery of the ancient city of Pompei.
It was therefore inevitable that chateau style living would eventually filter down to the middle class - it was here where the pared down furniture of the country would meet the fine embellishments of the chateau.
Country French furniture was more practical, pared down and less ornate, but still had tremendous style and flair. The ladder back dining room chair is a good example. Although simple in design with its rush seating, it still has a certain air of elegance about it.
The surrounding forests supplied ample timber for artisans who were apprenticed for 6-8 years, resulting in skilled craftsmanship and quality French Country furniture being produced. Included were ladder back chairs, large farm tables, sideboards, carved oak hutches and armoires.
Furniture from woods like beech, walnut, fruit tree and oak were either left natural, in comparison to the highly polished imported mahogany pieces of Paris, or completed in a soft satin finish. Other pieces were either painted in soft pastel colors with stencil motives, limed or color washed.
Designed to fit into the country home, from seating to storage, French country furniture is timeless and just as popular today as it was in the past. Today classic pieces are still being produced by skilled craftsmen in France using the same techniques passed down from generations before.
Many French Country furniture pieces are quite versatile and can be used for various functions in the home. Think of the iconic French Armoire, which can be used in any room from the bedroom, to kitchen and living room.
In the French country home, furniture is chosen with care and never looks as though it has just been placed there, for lack of a better place. The French know how to arrange furniture, giving the impression that each piece was made especially to serve its current funtion and has been standing in its place forever and a day, even though that may not be so.
The French always use their furniture in a functional and relaxed way. Mixing heirloom antiques with new furniture is what they do best, and there is no barrier between the two. Groupings are purposely mismatched as not to define any particular period or style.
The magic of French Country lies in mixing and matching and it is this combination that makes the style so appealing and versatile. Because all antiques are functional, used in a relaxed manner and blended in with new pieces, the style does not feel 'antique' like some traditional styles do, allowing one to create a modern twist as well as a traditional look.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to own antiques, but there is some great reproduction French Country furniture available, like the stunning blue armoire in the image above. Reproduction pieces may not have the history of their authentic antique cousins, but they sure give just as much pleasure.
Go sign up and take a peek to see for yourself, and if you do not find something today, do check again as new arrivals are listed daily.