Antique White French Provincial Bedroom Furniture
Antique white is the essence of French Provincial.
French Provincial refers to the style of decor found in the homes of the provincial aristocrats in France in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Not as wealthy as their urban colleagues, the provincial landholder had home furnishings that were often less ornate and made of less-expensive materials than the Parisian furniture of the time. However, much of the furnishings were copied from the Parisian styles in both colors and design. Recreate French Provincial in your home by mimicking some of the most important components of the style.
A bedroom decorated in French Provincial style is typically a softly colored room with a palette often pulled from an antique or vintage needlepoint rug woven in pastel green, blue, ivory and raspberry. Mauve was unknown during this period, but contemporary color schemes can use it since it blends so well with the original French Provincial colors. The color schemes of the era reflected the abundant rural landscape that surrounded the homes.
Floors of the period were slab stone or natural-colored or painted wide wood planks covered in needlepoint area rugs and, if the homeowner had exceptional wealth, oriental rugs in muted wools. Recreate this look with layers of area rugs in soft florals or worn-looking orientals. For a real authentic look, randomly remove some of the fringes and don’t turn away from threadbare rugs at the flea market. While the gentry of the French Provincial period may have been house-proud, they did not discard expensive rugs because of a bit of wear and tear.
Woven wool, linen and cotton were the local natural fibers available for fabric construction. Very wealthy homeowners might have some silk in their homes, but it was rare and used only in small amounts such as on the background of an embroidered pillow. Embroidery was a pastime that all grand ladies pursued, and their endeavors graced the pillows, footstools and some upholstered pieces in the public spaces of their homes. Bed linens and their own private garments, made of thinly woven cotton, were always embroidered. Textured woven fabric was de rigueur for window coverings, and later in the period, printed textiles became available, such as Toile de Jouy fabric, which featured scenes of country life. Reproduce the look of fabric of the day with natural fiber fabrics in muted colors. Soften pure whites with tea-dye since bright white would never appear in the coal- and wood-heated homes of the period.
Furniture was handmade during this period. Quality furniture was passed from generation to generation, so a bedroom in French Provincial style reflected furniture collections of pieces from all ages. The armoire is an identifier of the era; every French Provincial room had at least one. Made by craftsmen copying the urban style, these armoires were not quite as ornate as the heavily carved pieces of the King’s court, but curves and curlicues are an important element in the furniture style. Replicate the feel with wood pieces whitewashed and wiped to allow a glimpse of the old, original finish to peek through. Antiqued brass and bronze hardware completes a French Provincial armoire.
From small tabletops to large sunburst or oversized gold-leaf frames, mirrors - lots of mirrors - are an essential component of a French Provincial bedroom. Use one or several as decoration above the headboard, and position them around the room to reflect the window’s sunlight into each other.
Remember that the French Provincial style reflects the rural version of the Parisian style of the time and that the homes did not have central heating. Shutters, mounted to the outside of the home, provided security and the necessary heat loss protection. Inside the home, layers of lace and fabric added to the insulation of the shutters and provided visual interest. Reproduce the look with cotton lace inside-mount curtains and layers of textured plain fabric curtains hung on interesting metal rods, trimmed with fringe and tied back with softly colored oversized tassels.