Inspired French Style

By Jason Parker Counce


Many of us love French beauty. The Eiffel Tower, French wines, and, yes, even escargot came in vogue via the French way of life. Most of all, still today, French home décor is everywhere.


We all know of the overdone Florentine gilded furniture, chairs, shelves and accessories. I have long been an admirer of the gorgeous carved chairs of gold, but have never been able to use them in my personal décor. Still, to this day I stop every time I see a tray, box or accessory that is vintage and came from Italy. The form, the fashion, the look is still current. For those who can find a place in their home for such style, beautiful examples are sprinkled throughout Gas Lamp Antique and Decorating Mall. 


Also likely to make an appearance at GasLamp is the less ornate design that characterizes the style of Louis XVI furniture. This era marked a return to the classic designs of the ancient Romans. One hallmark is the square, tapering fluted legs of the chairs, a departure from the lovely “S” curves of earlier, cabriole style legs. In Booth B105, there are two such Louis XVI style fauteuils (photo, above right, one of an identical pair; $785 for both). The painted verde gris finish makes them even more authentic to the period.


Regardless of its upholstery color, a Louis XVI style fauteuil, with rattan backrest, often with intricate and extravagant detailing, can look equally at home with a fastidiously ornate décor or with a shabby chic style (photo left, Louis XVI style chair with rattan back and toile fabric; $250, Booth B-113).



Much French furniture displays beautiful, floral embellished carvings, which adds a hint of romance to a room. A fine example is this petite French Louis XVI side chair, which has sinuously carved lines and a silk upholstered seat (photo right, Louis XVI style side chair; $139.95, Booth B-210).


Even today, manufacturers are looking at the French style in making today's furniture and fabrics. Such looks include carved wooden chairs upholstered in linen, over-sized candlesticks, and wine barrels fashioned as furniture. This stunning, oversized “clock art” at Booth B103 is a great example of a modern style inspired by the French past (photo below; $389).


I started seeing a fascination with unlikely French items to be used as home décor at antiques shows a few years back. There, dealers were importing “regular” items, such as metal wine bottle holders and vintage pizza boards (example, photo right). Even “ordinary” grain sacks, from years gone by, were being sold to upholster furniture or make pillows (such sacks now go for outrageous prices on Ebay!). Who knew it would bring on such a phenomenon as it has today? It makes me want to hop on a plane and go to Paris right now! 



A decorative motif that is often seen in French décor is the acanthus leaf, which originated in ancient Greece, where it was used as an architectural motif. During the French Louis XVI period it gained popularity. It is still used to give a rich opulent touch, as with this neoclassical cast iron urn; it can be used for wall décor for a sophisticated look (photo right, iron urn; $110, Booth B-230).




New to GasLamp is the front display area called Booth 1000 (photo, below). This collaboration of dealers has that eclectic French feel. There is burlap and wood mixed with gold and mirror, along with other elements that make guests feel as though they are not in Nashville, but rather far, far away! Look closely to see the accent pillow, where the “antique script” is printed on linen, as with a vintage grain sack; this is part of the larger fabric trend that is taking over the decorating world by storm. 



Those who want a dreamy escape should just add a touch of France to their décor. All I can say is, “Ooh la la, enjoy this look!” (And I can’t wait to go to France, sooner rather than later!).



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