One of the most famous of the French decorative styles is easily French Country. But do you know its history? One might call it an amalgam of other styles, but it's a little more complicated than that. It all started with French King Louis XIV. Of course, there were other styles of design prior to his reign, but this French monarch made a calculated decision to cement France as the preeminent designer of furniture and other decorative arts in the world. His efforts to define French design has endured all the way until today, as elements of this design aesthetic has not only survived but continues to thrive in today's designs.
Starting in the mid-1600s, Louis XIV's reign saw the expansion and renovation of a humble hunting chateau in the small département of Yvelines into the famed royal Palace of Versailles. And with its construction, the king sought out the finest carpenters and craftsmen to make the palace itself a work of art. As the regard for these works steadily grew, even the common French folk wished for their homes to be furnished in finer styles. And so, many provincial craftsmen began designing and building furniture that certainly emulated the finer pieces in Versailles, but adapted them for country living. Their efforts to create decor that was beautiful, but also aided in their rustic lifestyle, gave birth to the French Country style.
At times just as ornate, French Country pieces are typically made of simpler and more rugged materials than their higher-end bonafide French styles. These pieces were as easy to live with as the tools of the trade that their owners used in their everyday tasks. But what sets French Country apart, in our opinion, is the often unique color palette. One can almost immediately recognize a French Country aesthetic with the natural color tones that are very often painted on each piece. Subdued beige and cream, pastel blues and greens, and rich deep reds are among the colors we most often see on French Country pieces. Here are a few of our favorites:
In addition to the lovely colors often chosen, there are also an assortment of patterns and fabrics that elevate French Country pieces to their rightful place in the French design canon. These together make French Country one of the more subtly interesting style aesthetics, in our opinion. What's your favorite thing about French Country style?