When it comes to fashion, French women are equally as good at dressing in haute couture as they are at affecting bohemian chic. Perhaps this relates to the fact that their home environment is enduringly stylish, whether they live in a smart Parisian apartment or a charming cottage in a rural setting. The hallmarks of the French decorating style include a number of elements that can easily be recreated in the home, including in the bedroom.
Walls and floors
French bedroom colour schemes tend to be fairly muted and conducive to a sense of relaxation and calm. Frequently walls of exposed brick or stone are left bare, while others are covered in paper or fabric. Living rooms may sport wallpaper that has larger, brighter patterns however bedrooms tend to have plain fabrics in colours such as grey, cream, beige or ecru. While downstairs rooms usually have tiled floors, often bedroom floors are left bare, the better to show off bleached floorboards, while rugs with intricate designs are added to provide colour.
Doors and windows
Interior doors are generally wooden and often simply stained and varnished rather than painted. Downstairs doors may have glass panels but for privacy bedroom doors are generally solid and often painted white. Many older houses in France have beautiful door handles and hinges made of iron or brass, so replacing door handles is an easy way to achieve the same effect.
Windows can benefit from a number of different treatments. French bedrooms may have a single voile panel for privacy, which covers the glazing, plus ceiling to floor length heavy curtains, which often have ornate tiebacks for use in daytime. Shutters are used pretty much everywhere in France, either internally or externally or sometimes both. Wooden shutters are most popular, and custom shutters for the bedroom may be stained and varnished to bring out the natural colour of the wood, or painted to match the bedroom décor.
Furniture and accessories
With plain walls and floors to play with, furnishings with a vintage look create an appealing atmosphere in a French-style boudoir. Artworks and bed linens with floral or exotic patterns in green and pink, for example, will brighten up the space. Many French beds have highly decorative headboards and re-covering a plain one in a bright fabric will achieve the same effect. Traditionally, French beds have a bolster – a long, thick pillow that is placed under other pillows for support – plus additional pillows as needed. Square cushions in a variety of colours and fabrics are also used as decorative items.
Matching bedside tables, lamps and chairs in a combination of antique white and gold make a very attractive addition. Some French bedrooms have no overhead lighting, so plenty of lamps plus one or two wall uplighters are often used instead. Mirrors are essential to reflect the light in French bedrooms and strategically placing small and larger ones around a bedroom will have the same effect.
In all, it is the combination of lots of relatively simple things that creates the ideal French boudoir.