Focus on French Style May 18 2017
There are many furniture styles under the “French” moniker. The antique furniture styles are usually associated with the reigning monarch of that time period. These styles include: LOUIS XIII (1610-1643) cartouches, gold gilding, nail head accents; LOUIS XIV (1643-1716) think Versailles, very Baroque and symmetrical using a variety of wood & marquetry; REGENCE (Regency) (1715-1723) change from Baroque to Rococo; LOUIS XV (1723-1774) Rococo, very artistic and curvy, lighter color palette, sculptures, natural elements such as shells, flowers, ornate vases, cabriole legs & metal accents; LOUIS XVI (1774-1792) elegant and understated, straight lines with fluted legs, Neo-classical style with back and gold lacquers ; and DIRECTOIRE (1789-early 1800s) after the Revolution, décor is accented with arrows, French flags, stars, and wreaths, lighter woods are used, many items are painted. Design eras after this point in history are often harkening back to these monarch periods. There are certainly many iterations of these styles in American households thus one sees “in the style of Louis XIV” or “Directoire style” in reference to a furniture piece.
Purchasing French Antiques
While one might want to incorporate a true antique from any of the aforementioned French periods, the prices are often very high as authentic antiques from these periods are very scarce. Many of these true antiques did not travel well in cargo holds of ships crossing the Atlantic! There are certainly many reproductions of these beautiful French designs! Before purchasing a “true antique” from any of these periods, be sure it has a formal appraisal or pay to have one done! Many insurance companies require these appraisals on valuable furniture and décor pieces. One only has to watch Antiques Road Show a few times to see people that have paid huge sums for a French “antique” that is only a reproduction. Many reproductions also have high values but do the homework so there are no surprises down the road.
Current French Styles
In the current design market, “French Style” appears to mean different things to different people so some clarification might help. French Style décor usually falls into three categories: French Provincial, Parisian Chic and French County.
French Provincial refers to décor that takes design cues from the outlying provinces of France during the 18th century. It is less ornate than what one thinks of as “French Style” with carved curved legs and more simple moldings. This style became very popular in the United States during the 1950s and many company made reproduction bedroom sets and table sets for those eager to embrace French Style.
Parisian Chic is design and décor that accents the idea of a Parisian apartment on the Seine. These apartment homes have very high ceilings, floor length windows, parquet floors and elegant architectural flourishes. The pictures below show the architectural work of Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann who, in the mid 1800s, renovated many Parisian apartments.
One can see how the Parsian Chic design incorporates modern furniture and décor with the beautiful antique architecture of the French city. Urban Americnana is proud to offer many of these modern elements that can be customized with various fabrics to accent the Parsian Chich style.
French Country is a very relaxed style that takes décor cues from the farmlands of France. It uses natural wood elements and light colors of white, beige, soft grays and greens. Often reclaimed furniture is covered with grain sacks and French striped ticking. Many homes use décor pieces from this style to accent cottage, shabby, and country looks that are popular now. Urban American stocks many of these pieces but they don’t last long online or in our retail store! Be sure to check our New Arrivals or Vintage by Vera our Vintage French Dealer.