French Country furniture, whether it is antique, vintage or reproduction, cannot recreate the true rustic ambience of a country home from the 1700s without assistance; the devil is, as always, in the details. Accents, hangings and other design elements added to a room’s walls can make the difference between a room featuring French country furnishings, and one which fully recalls the classic style of the period.
Wall sconces are the most prominent design elements which will help convert a 21st century wall into an 18th century one. It’s inconvenient – not to mention a fire hazard, of course – to use candles as a primary light source in your home. But French country-style wall sconces holding candle-shaped incandescent bulbs are an outstanding substitution.
The sconce’s arms will likely be curved and ornamentation will be minimal, perhaps with a simple raised wall plate, an armback and a decorative detail or two. The sconces available today are usually made from iron, and then finished and detailed with colors simulating aged bronze or distressed wood.
A framed antiqued mirror hung behind a French country wall sconce will add another layer of authenticity to the room’s appearance, while also reflecting light to increase the airy, rustic atmosphere. Sconce/mirror combinations are widely available and reasonably priced. Other antiqued frames holding prints of 18th century-style artwork featuring floral or avian motifs, hung discreetly around the room, will contribute to the French country décor as well.
Intricate (but not ostentatious) accent moldings and trim, featuring the curves or delicate scrollwork favored in the period, can easily be purchased and installed to enhance the French country look of a room. Tapestries are not a “must have” ingredient in a French country kitchen, but they are used at times and fit in perfectly. Less-authentic, attractive wall pieces created in period style, such as clocks or planters, may not appeal to history buffs or design experts but can still elevate the overall décor.
Textured wallpaper with sedate patterns is usually a better match than paint for French country walls; light-colored draperies made from rich fabrics can also help create the comfortable, airy ambience of a rustic French country home.