French Bedroom Antiques

In this episode of Cracking Antiques, Rebekah Prince from Essex longs for an opulent French bedroom with the wow factor. Antiques expert Mark Hill and interior designer Kathryn Rayward help her achieve that dream by hunting out French antiques and vintage items to create a glamorous, lavishly appointed boudoir.

WHAT IS THE FRENCH BOUDOIR LOOK?

In the middle of the 18th century in France, Louis XV’s reign was associated with an elegant and ornate type of style and design. The style movement, known as Rococo, is thought to originate from the French words meaning stone and shell and also possibly refers to the baroque movement. Rococo is characterised by furniture and objects that are heavily curved, carved and gilded. The delicacy, playfulness and opulence of the style is often considered to be perfectly in tune with the excesses of Louis XV’s reign. Marie Antoinette, who became the Queen of France when she married Louis XVI, is one of the most famous icons of this style.

A boudoir is a lady’s private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room. In French, this literally translates into ‘pouting room’ – if a young lady was feeling sulky, she would be sent to her boudoir until she felt better. As such, it needed to be more than a bedroom, it was often used for bathing and dressing and other activities such as reading, embroidering or even for entertaining intimate acquaintances.

5 WAYS TO RECREATE THE FRENCH BOUDOIR LOOK IN YOUR HOME

The key thing to remember about recreating this look at home is that it’s about making your room ‘the room where you make yourself pretty’. Aim to add glamour at all times!
As you saw from the episode (click here to for full details of the items mentioned), some key things that you can do to achieve this look are:

1. Choose curved shapes and forms for furniture. A boudoir is all about relaxing in style. The focal point of this style in a smaller bedroom is naturally going to be the bed. If you can, find a bed that has a bedhead with a curved wooden or metal finish, with intricate carvings such as a cockleshell design. The room design should also incorporate the fabrics, colours and patterns from the bedding. With a sitting room style boudoir, you can incorporate a chaise longue, which is an upholstered couch in the shape of a chair that is long enough to support the legs. Another option is to buy a set of rococo armchairs, which have a curved wooden or metal frame. These types of chairs are often embellished with decorative inlays or cockleshell patterns and have vibrant upholstered cushions on the base.

2. Invest in key pieces like armoires, cabinets and dressers. While it’s important not to overclutter a French boudoir, beautiful key pieces like armoires, cabinets and dressing tables can really transform your room. Again, look for curved edges and ornate embellishments on the corners of the furniture (on the door frames, legs and top). You could invest in a gorgeous dressing table with a marble top that will make applying your cosmetics a truly pleasurable experience. Or you can put pretty objects on display in a tall wooden armoire with see-through glass on the inside of the doors. Be careful not to ruin the ambience with electro stress items like TV sets or home entertainment systems - after all this style is about having the space to get in touch with your inner self.

3. Opt for rich colour and texture in accents. Colour and texture is hugely important with this style. Try to keep to the same colour scheme throughout, often people opt for a white painted room with white furniture and opt for richness in colour for their accessories. Strong red or romantic pink accents are popular or you could choose a royal palette of purple, bronze and gold as Rebekah in the show did. Fabrics should feel soft and luxurious so consider silk sheets, satiny bedspreads and velvet throws for your bed or chaise longue. Unusual textures also add to the feel – you can add feathers, tassles, silk braids, sheer fabrics or crystal beads to lamp shades and curtains. Movies such as Marie Antoinette and Moulin Rouge are both sumptuous visual interpretations of this style that may provide you with further inspiration.

4. Use lighting to create ambience. King Louis XV’s generation understood that lighting can really set the mood. Like Rebekah in the show, you could decorate your room with an elegant pair of genuine 18th century French candlesticks which can be relatively inexpensive with the added bonus that they can become a family heirloom. Chandeliers of course, are another glamorous touch and a dimmer switch is useful for those special boudoir invitations!

5. Select delicate and ornate objects. Carefully selected objects further reflect and reinforce the romantic imagery and motifs of this period. Think items that have images of love such as cupid, pastoral scenes, bouquets and musical instruments such as violins and horns. Large mirrors with curved, embellished metal or wooden frames also help to convey French old world sensuality. Don’t forget to put all your gorgeous items on display and hide all your mundane ones. Place a curved vase full of fresh flowers on your bedside table and decorate your dresser with favourite jewellery, powder brushes, perfume bottles and fancy stationery sets.

PIECES FROM THE SHOW

Johnny Egg flocked chandelier
750 pounds $1271.10
Heal’s http://www.heals.co.uk

Chaise longue
464 pounds $786.40
Sweetpea & Willow http://www.sweetpeaandwillow.com/

Louis XVI style bed
2,829 pounds $4794.60
La Maison http://lamaison.co.uk/

Marble top console
1,700 pounds $2881.20
La Maison http://lamaison.co.uk/

Standard lamp
230 pounds $389.80
Heal’s http://www.heals.co.uk

Cushion
40 pounds $67.80
House of Fraser http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/house+accessory/05,default,sc.html

Armoire
690 pounds $1,135.68
The French Furniture Company http://thefrenchfurniturecompany.co.uk/index.php

Wirefronted cabinet
643 pounds $1,058.32
Sweetpea & Willow http://www.sweetpeaandwillow.com/

ANTIQUES

Antique chair
100 pounds$169.50
French Depot UK http://www.thefrenchdepot.com/

Vintage king size bed
560 pounds $949.10

Antique French bronze and crystal 4-arm chandelier
220 pounds $ 372.85
Shepton Mallet Antiques Fair http://www.dmgantiquefairs.com/

Antique Candlesticks
370 pounds $627.10

Antique Chaise longue & dressing table
1200 pounds $2033.75

Customised lamp
124 pds $204.093

Early 20th century dressing table
300 pounds $508.45
Three Angels http://www.threeangels.co.uk/threeangels/Welcome.html

Early 20th century chaise longue
750 pounds $1271.10

5 AUSTRALIAN SITES TO VISIT TO GET THE FRENCH BOUDOIR LOOK:

1. http://www.antiquesplus.com.au (Search terms: ‘french’, ‘rococo’)
2. http://www.frenchboutique.com.au
3. http://www.antiquesreporter.com.au (Search terms: ‘french’, ‘rococo’)
4. http://www.ebay.com.au (Search terms: ‘king louis xv’, ‘french’, ‘rococo’)
5. http://www.etsy.com (Search terms: ‘french’, ‘rococo’)

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