Ooh La La, French Decor

By+Shelly M. Kurz

Take a look around your home…does your décor move you? Inspire you? Or does it emit a ho-hum dullness that fails miserably at invigorating any of your senses? If the latter applies, don’t be discouraged! With a little help from our European neighbors, especially the French, you can easily and affordably update an ordinary room into something extraordinary. Take some tips from the experts then add a touch of your own personal style and before long you’ll see your room go from “eeeww” to “OOH LA LA!”
To actually define French décor is a bit confining since it is a style that is so comfortable with and accepting of everything from classic elegance to bohemian charm. French décor is achieved through the art of showcasing a variety of contrasting accessories, furniture pieces and other, sometimes mundane, objects in ways that create unique, charming and timeless interiors. It not only allows, but encourages mixing the old with the new, dressy with casual, and silks with cotton. “French décor is a trend we’ve been seeing over the past five years,” says Carol Brademas of Interiors Etc. in Mishawaka during her annual Paris Flea Market event. “People like both the Paris apartment look and the country French look because it blends the old with the new. People like to mix antiques in with the newer things and that’s what we like to do so it’s been a look that’s been really popular with us.” This chic decorating style is full of possibilities and surprises for any room.

So, what makes an item especially fitting for French décor? “A very eclectic mix,” states Brademas. “When we look for things for our Paris Flea Market, we look for items made in France that may have a more sleek and sophisticated look as well as country French items that have more of a patina to them. We also feature antiques, one-of-a-kind treasures, vintage pieces, quirky furniture and accessories, seashore trinkets and old suitcases.” Many objects are characterized by garden and nature influences. Rich floral and vine designs, metal cast birds and sculptures, antique garden tools and stone accessories are all compatible within the walls and the garden of a home adorned in French décor.
When looking for French décor, the hunt can be as much fun as finding the perfect spot for your treasures once you get home. If you’re lucky enough to sojourn in Paris, by all means, you’ll want to experience the many authentic flea markets and interesting shops there. But rest assured, you don’t have to go to Paris to surround yourself with French décor. You’ll be surprised at what you can find right in your own town and the surrounding areas. For example, summertime brings with it many antique fairs and shows to northern Indiana and southern Michigan. Shipshewana, New Buffalo, Michigan City, Saugatuck, Douglas and numerous other cities and towns within a couple hours from home have some great little antique and specialty stores that are filled with vintage and French-inspired treasures. Even a walk on the beach can render seashells and washed stone to enhance your décor.

By now you’re probably getting the picture that almost anything goes with French décor. That’s why it’s so important to find treasures that you really love. “Who wants a room that looks like it’s right off the page of a mail order catalog or a showroom floor?” asks Brademas. “You’ve got to add something to make it your own.” And keep in mind, the whole room doesn’t have to be filled with antiques. You can mix in a vintage piece or two in with your current décor and it will still create that chic look. One element that is important in developing the French style is how you actually display or group your pieces. “A lot of antiques look better when they are grouped together…like when you collect things, it looks better when they are all together as opposed to being spread out all over the house,” says Brademas. “The eclectic style of French décor makes old things new again so don’t be afraid to mix a little of the past with some of the present so that each melds together to showcase the style that is uniquely you.