French Provincial decor -- featuring furniture with scalloped baseboards, curving cabriole legs and light, creamy finishes within a less ornate, family-friendly framework -- is a less-formal version of aristocratic French styles. The palette is often light, frequently in blue and yellow. Patterned fabrics and floral motifs abound as does blue-and-white porcelain, a favored collectible of French kings. Craftsmen in the French provinces created pieces with some formality, but also informal enough to provide a comfortable backdrop for your growing family.
1. Candy Cane-Back Kitchen
Cane-back chairs are a staple of French Provincial decorating, especially in light finishes. To correspond with whitewashed cabinetry, use whitewashed cane-back chairs with red-violet and white upholstery and a walnut-topped, whitewashed farm table. Cap the table with a crystal chandelier to add a touch of French Provincial glitter. Choose a coordinating wall color in pale yellow-ochre, a greenish yellow and near complement of red-violet. Yellow-ochre tile provides a unified backdrop with matching walls, and the red-violet patterned chair upholstery has the added advantage of concealing raspberry jelly stains better than lighter fabrics.
2. Eiffel Towering Bed Crown
Cascading light yellow-ochre, solid damask fabric flows from your bed crown, corresponding with the flowing lines of French Provincial furniture, including a light dresser with cabriole legs. Dress the bed in a matching antique gold bedspread and an array of pillows in yellow-ochre and blue-and-white floral patterns. Pale yellow-ochre walls blend with matching carpet, and at the foot of the bed, a long, French-finish bench with cabriole legs and greenish blue-gray fabric provides a place for kids' books to accumulate.
3. Napoleon Complex
Supply a small foyer with a touch of French grandeur with a French-finish, Louis XV console with a curving baseboard and cabriole legs. To extend the console's height, hang a vertical, greenish-silver framed mirror, which blends with pale, greenish blue-gray walls and matching tile flooring. A round, French-finish pedestal table is capped by a crystal chandelier. Colorful accents include an opposing wall grouping of blue-and-white Chinese plates and a blue-and-white, Chinese porcelain vase, a favored collectible of French kings. If your kids enjoy running in your foyer, substitute a less-expensive grade of porcelain and place all your collectibles out of reach of small hands.
4. The French Connection
Your den is the place where you gather with your family to relax and enjoy snacks; install a darker, stain-concealing French palette that requires less maintenance. A navy sofa and chairs, supplemented by accent chairs and ottomans with walnut cabriole legs and orange-yellow upholstery, wears well and won't show stains. Wood flooring corresponds with a walnut coffee table and a walnut armoire that opens to serve as an entertainment center. A patterned rug in navy and orange-yellow coordinates as do orange-yellow curtains that blend with walls. Pillows in a blue-and-white pattern add French flair, and a simple, orange-bronze chandelier provides a finishing touch.