Once upon a time, whilst European gentry were lavishing their homes with the opulence and intricacy of Louis XV furniture, and then later with a slightly more reserved but equally bourgeois Louis XVI, those living in regional areas were not nearly as excessive nor dramatic. On the contrary, rather than turning to gold gilding, rich upholsteries and exquisite carvings, regional furniture took a cue from its immediate environs, and the predominantly agrarian lifestyle so prolific at the time.
Hello French Provincial furniture!
Nest of side tables by Eureka Street
There is something sublime about the relaxed charm and effortless style so synonymous with French Provincial furniture. Think Aix-en-Provence stone cottage framed by luscious grapevines hanging down the side, a simple but beautiful garden that’s left to go on its own here and there, a hearty family room full of charm and warmth, a bedroom draped ever-so-stylishly in natural linens… We could go on and on and on!
Whether you’re wrapping your entire home in the comfort and gentle colouring of French Provincial furniture, or you’re looking for one-off accent pieces to work seamlessly with other decors; there are just so many options available!
Bringing the outdoors in
Sunflowers, lavender, fruit, wheat; Mother Nature’s bounty has inspired many a French Provincial design, be it via decorative upholstery, natural fibres that remind us what truly quality bed linen is all about and even smaller, lovely touches such as bumble bees on cutlery. You can also look to the fields and orchards for original machinery and props that double as functional pieces for the home, yet still echo a gentler, rawer country pace of life.
French Provincial furniture also finds its routes in natural resources such as timbers and ceramics; materials that meant home owners weren’t re-inventing the wheel, but instead making good and practical use of the means around them.
Timber apple crate by Rustique furniture
The heart of the home
When it comes to life in the country, perhaps few rooms are as important as the kitchen. This is where good, hearty meals are prepared for hard-working folk, and where family members come together for a shared dining experience. For these reasons, nothing says French Provincial furniture to us quite like a fabulous, generous, welcoming table. It wouldn’t be unusual to see a raw timber table on a more industrial-looking iron base; such a combination creates a sturdy, here-to-stay presence just right for any down-to-Earth country feel. In short – big, raw, ‘honest’-looking tables beautifully capture the integrity of French Provincial furniture.
Where there is a kitchen table there are, of course, kitchen chairs! French Provincial chairs will often feature a cross back, be made from what was traditionally readily available French countryside timber (eg oak), and create comfort thanks to simple but smart woven padded seats. Don’t fall into the misconception that French Provincial furniture has a strict set of rules by which we need to abide. On the contrary, if you want to take a classic piece but give it a contemporary twist, then go ahead; it’s your home and it should reflect you! We love, for example, these French Provincial inspired chairs that have been given a burst of primary colour.
Brightly coloured cross-back chairs from Dare Gallery will bring a pop of colour to your dining space.
Just a slice of Provincial France
If you want your space to feature just a hint of Provincial France, then consider accessories for the home. Stools, baskets, occasional benches and decorative (yet down-to-Earth) light fittings are wonderful ways to add that little je ne sais quoi to your space! Few of us can jump on a plane whenever we want and head to Southern France, so in our mind the next best thing is bringing a touch of French esprit into the home!