For home decorators aspiring to that je ne sais quoi of French interior style, there can be a fine line between chic and just plain shabby.
The trouble, Jane Webster believes, is that people are buying into a cliche when they decorate to a theme like French provincial.
Style, she says, doesn’t translate with a few French words on cushions and kitchen canisters shipped by the pallet from China or homewares collections festooned with fleur de lis.
The author of the best-selling My French Table has set out to encapsulate the fundamental elements of classic interior style in her luxe new book French House Chic.
Filled with interior shots from some of the most beautiful private country chateaux and Parisian apartments it oozes that seemingly effortless style for which the French are renowned.
Jane, who famously sold her house in Melbourne and installed her young family in a then crumbling 18th century chateau in Normandy 12 years ago, has turned her love of French food and culture into a highly successful business.
I love the patina of this knocker “heurtoir de porte” ….. oh the stories he could tell! On our honeymoon in Paris 27 years ago Pete took 20 rolls of film in just a few days in Paris …. every photo a Parisian door! This photo is from French House Chic taken by @robynleaphotography & Published by @thamesandhudsonau
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Chateau Bosgouet, now magnificently restored, is the base for Jane’s My French Table cookery school and culinary tours and a showcase of lifetime cultivating French flavour.
After persuading her friends to open the doors of their homes for her third book, she observes they share one thing in common.
“It is not about having a prescribed idea, “ she says, “but we are all hoarders and magpies who love brocanting (secondhand and junk shop trawling) and going to les puces (flea markets) in Paris. In Melbourne I will do the auction scene every week. Leonard Joel in South Yarra and Aingers in Richmond are my favourite.
“Some people don’t like old things, but I actually think sourcing key old pieces is one of the keys to getting that very unique French look to a room. It is also important to mix it up, be eclectic and have the confidence to choose what attracts your eye.
“You often read about French women and the way they dress. There are no rules with that either. I think you can see the correlation between how they decorate and how they dress themselves.”
French House Chic
- By Jane Webster, photography Robyn Lea Thames & Hudson, $59.99
- Jane will be appearing at: Jeffreys Books, 140 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, October 12, 6.30pm-8pm
- D’Artagnan Homewares, 106 Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds, October 26, 6pm-8pm
- My Bookshop by Corrie Perkin, 513 Malvern Road, Hawksburn, October 31, 6.30pm-7.30pm
Jane’s five ways to Frenchify your home
- Have a big statement piece. It might be a beautiful old armoire that sits quite dominantly in a room or a chandelier. In the kitchen it could be a beautiful black stove top with brass fittings.
- Go for some classic pieces. Blue and white, for example, has never ever gone out of favour in France, whether it is a big ginger jar, lamp base or platter.
- Consider the little details like a lovely tassel coming out of a book on a coffee table or in the key of an armoire.
- Buy beautiful linen to display, not lock away.
- Choose a colour palette which reflects places you love in France; the lavender, fields, olive groves, vineyards and sunflowers of Provence for example. Remember, harmony is the key.