Literally translating to “flower of the lily”, the fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily synonymous with French royalty. One legend believes that Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, was presented with a golden lily on his conversion to Christianity. Another says he adopted the symbol as water lilies guided him to safety across a river and success in battle thereafter. A metaphor for perfection, light, and life, the tri-petal flower has been seen on shields and flags of French monarchs, in Christian religious art and artefacts as well as architectural detailing like cornices and railings.
More recently, the Florentine motif has made an appearance in period-style decor. Incorporate the Florentine motif into your home decor in the form of antique accents such as brass hooks, door knockers or even a customised gate/window grill for a bungalow. For something more transient, pick soft furnishings, crystal serveware or silver accessories (like votive-holders) that can be alternated as you please.
Mostly seen in furniture silverware and ceramics, the Rococo Style was in trend between 1730 and 1770. The word is derived from the French rocaille (pronounced ‘rock-eye’), which means shell-covered rock found on grotto designs at the time. It emerged in response to the grandiose design of Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles and the Baroque art of his reign. Rococo’s relatively lighter style was defined by delicately laced curved forms, natural motifs and asymmetry.
When choosing home decor, look for detailing such as C and S-shaped curves along the framework in furniture or in patterns of fabrics and wall coverings. Keep the palette light with pastels and ivory white. Gold detailing will lend a luxe appeal to any space. Include mirrors or mirrored surfaces to create the illusion of space – another visual trick often seen during the Rococo era.
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile at the western end of the Champs-Élysées in Paris, is one of the most well-known examples of Empire architecture. The early 19th century design movement marked the second phase of neoclassicism. Encouraged by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the style was strongly influenced by his military sessions in Egypt.
Drawing from colours seen on Egyptian tombs, bolder-vibrant tones replaced classic French pastels – azure blues, royal reds and greens, ochre and acid yellows. More obvious design elements included hieroglyphics, winged lions and sphinxes. In addition to these, keep an eye out for geometric forms and classical motifs like laurel wreaths and winged victory. When it comes to material, mahogany is ideal.
French Country Style
As the name suggests, the French Country style exudes a rustic free-spirited vibe. Ideal for the laid-back homeowner, the ambience here is stripped down and natural. Think gently arched wooden French windows, exposed beam ceilings, stained or painted plaster walls, distressed wood and metal furniture and fixtures, natural stone floors, etc.
Go with toile, a traditional design for French Country fabrics, for upholstery and soft furnishings. Accessorise with fresh flowers in wire baskets, copper and iron ware, colourful ceramic ware and cheery tablecloths. Hue cues: happy yellows, cobalt blue, fiery reds and burnt rust, verdant greens and calming aqua.