|French Style Chairs - link to source|
I have found, however, that French style pieces are very popular and finding good pieces that I can refurbish and resell for a slight profit is challenging. Buying and shipping from abroad is prohibitively expensive so, at least for now, I have had abandon that dream (not to mention the lure of business expense trips to Europe)!
I have been using Annie Sloan Chalk Paints (link to ASCP site) for about four months and liking the results. Therefore, I have been picking up more and more French style pieces just to give me the opportunity to use the paints and experiment with different techniques. I can pick up pieces that are in "rougher" shape - before I did some wood painting but not nearly as much as I do now. I have been labeling a lot of chairs "French style" so I thought it might be informative to review what that phrase really means and do a series of blogs on French style furniture including ideas for refurbishing the pieces.
My first stop was wikipedia link to site - here is a summary of their definition of French Furniture:
There clearly seems to be a distinction between the highly formal - often dark wood and gilded furniture - and the rest of the country and its more casual styles. Here is another site that addresses the differences between urbanite and the more casual woods and treatments of the countryside - the latter is often called "Country French" - link to article.French furniture comprises both the most sophisticated furniture made in Paris for king and court, aristocrats and rich upper bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and French provincial furniture made in the provincial cities and towns many of which, like Lyon and Liège, retained cultural identities distinct from the metropolis. There was also a conservative artisanal rural tradition of French country furniture which remained unbroken until the advent of the railroads in the mid-nineteenth century.
Most of the pieces I have accumulated and worked on are less ornate and demonstrate more of the lighter and painted woods described as "country French". Here are some of my favorites from over the years.This furniture style makes reference not so much to a particular era, but to differentiate between styles of the French urbanite and those of the country dweller. Whereas sophisticated Parisians of the 18th and early 19th centuries preferred such elaborate ornamentation as the gilt bronze mounts found in many period French styles, farm families of the smaller towns and surrounding countryside of such places as Bordeaux, Normandy, and Provence chose other, less-expensive ways to make their furniture appealing. Eschewing the often-imported and pricier woods of the capital city, French country furniture makers used woods indigenous to their area. Instead of expensive gilding, carving became the acceptable method of adding interest to a piece.
|From my 2007 Collection - Painted (white and blue) French style chairs with simple carvings. This piece would be be more "citified" with darker woods and gilding. These chairs might represent a good in-between city and country styling.|
|From 2007 Collection - Julie's Sofa - lighter carved woods. I think this piece, with some detailed gilding, could pass the city test!|
|From 2007 Collection - definitely a Country French style|
I am enjoying this trip down memory lane and will be highlighting wood treatments; French chair styles; and, fabric choices in future blogs on this very broad and interesting subject!