It’s understandable if the word “ornate” comes to mind when discussing antique French design. French Provincial furniture, however, does not feature the ostentatious Rococo look commonly associated with the period. The creation of Provincial furniture was a deliberate reaction to the elaborate pieces favored by French aristocrats in the 18th century, with the ornate design extras stripped away to create furnishings which were beautiful and elegant, yet understated and less expensive to produce.
The French Provincial bedroom furniture available today falls into two categories. Antique handmade pieces will provide a stunning, sophisticated look, with a patina – and price – to match. More recently-produced furniture in the Provincial style contributes much of the same ambiance, without the patina of age – or the extraordinarily high price.
These pieces feature relatively-simple curved and scalloped designs, bronze or brass hardware, and cabriole legs which are concave at the bottom and convex at the top. Provincial furniture is often associated with French country style, so the hardwoods used to construct it are usually lighter than the deep-browns many associate with “antique” furniture. The wood is sometimes whitewashed, with the natural color of the wood showing through in spots and attesting to a piece’s authenticity.
Some French Provincial beds have four-poster canopies, and while their design may be whimsical they won’t have the showy flourishes of Rococo furniture. Matching nightstands, armoires and chests (many in highboy style), side chairs (to be placed in a sitting nook) and ottomans or benches (to sit at the foot of the bed) are commonly seen in a set of French Provincial bedroom furniture.
Unless you are fortunate (and wealthy) enough to have one of these exquisite bedroom sets passed down through your family, your choices will likely be limited to piecing together a room with closely-matching antiques, or purchasing a newer set manufactured or hand-built with French Provincial designs. The popularity of the style, though, means there’s a large selection of new French Provincial bedroom furniture on the market, with both high-quality and less-expensive options available to elevate the look of your boudoir.