As the saying goes, if you can’t be at a particular location, you can always bring that location to you. This is certainly the case with a beloved renowned city like Paris. Who wouldn’t want to live within a stone’s throw of the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral? Of course, this isn’t realistic for most folks, which is why you can always opt for bringing a part of Paris into your home. You can achieve this end with elegant French-style antiques.
French Cartel Clock
Cartel clocks come in many neoclassical designs with origins in other European countries beyond France. These clocks were especially popular in aristocratic households during the reign of King Louie XVI. Eventually, their popularity fell out of favour as homeowners began favouring mantel clocks. Popular cartel clocks of the day were made primarily from brass, ivory, pearwood veneer, or turtle shells. Many feature ornate hand-engraved designs in the dials and outer designs.
A commode is a low-sitting cabinet with multiple drawers and a chamber pot. Common French designs for a commode include ornate cabriole legs and a convex or bombe shape with a flat back. Some of the more elaborate models featured a marble countertop surface. The commode was a popular bedroom furniture in mid-18th century France. By the 19th-century, the commode design became more simplistic and subdued as it became a more common household item among the working class. For the truly old-style French look, aim for a pre-19th-century model.
French Tea Set
The French were just as known for their love of tea as the British. Look for a vintage French tea set, which actually makes a great companion décor if you display it on a commode surface. Typical sets are made from porcelain or bone china and come with artistic hand-painted designs. Floral designs were especially popular among the artist and makers.
Both freestanding and tabletop hutches are available. These were mainly a kitchen furniture. As such, you’ll find more rustic-style designs than those from any of the King Louie eras. This is where collectors get tripped up since they tend not to associate rustic or countryside with French styles. There are actually many rustic wooden furniture with French influences. Some of the fancier pieces come with multi-cabinetry with glass doors. This is another good spot for displaying a vintage tea set.
French Restoration Cabinetry
The French restoration was essentially the post-King Louie era starting in the early 1800s. Furniture with this style of design was considered by some as a decline into decadence. Earlier models utilized an Empire style design with symbols adopted from the Reign of Napoleon I. Cabinetmakers utilized prominent geometric designs with a heavy emphasis on marquetry for decoration. Overall, the designs are toned down a bit from those from earlier generations. The focus was more on practicality; it was also a necessity due to economic turmoil during the restoration period.
True restoration-era furniture is also harder to find since furniture-making declined drastically during this point in history. This makes these items highly sought-after collectables.
The elegant French armchair is the master chair reserved for the head of the household. These chairs were a mainstay and span over many prominent periods, from the early King Louis XIII era to the end of the restoration period in the mid-1800s. Look for models with ornate curved legs, finesse arms, and gold trim. If displaying or using for the outdoors, then consider a French rattan chair. Like the rustic design, rattan isn’t typically a style associated with French craftsmanship. However, these were a definite mainstay in French courtyards.
Mirrors are never out of vogue, so you can never go wrong here. French Rococo mirrors are always an attractive style and were in high demand during the 1730s, between the Resurgence period and the reign of King Louie XV. Other styles include models from the Henry II era, which includes straight geometric columns and heavy carved detailing from dark mahogany wood. Mirrors pair well with an equally vintage dresser or commode.
You don’t even have to visit Paris to acquire high-end antiques. You can get your hands on rare authentic finds at various antique fairs in the UK. Many vintage pieces have switched owners over the many decades and centuries.
Hannah Hutchinson is an interior designer based in London, currently blogging for Westland London. She’s always chasing new ideas and likes thinking outside the box when it comes to incorporating fresh ideas to her clients’ new homes.