Saturday, 12 March 2011

French Impressions

I wrote earlier that I don't normally enter giveaways, and on the whole that is true - I often don't even read a post if the subject mentions a giveaway.  However, I did succumb to temptation on Tish's blog some time back when she was offering a book on interior design by her friend, Betty Lou Phillips.  Tish borrowed some of the book's text about French manners that was quite interesting and I thought I might pick up some more ideas.

I didn't even realise I'd won until Tish got in touch - the one post of hers that I miss and it has good news for me!  Then I didn't hear anything and decided I must not have played the game right; I'm clueless about how a lot of things work in the blog world.  Anyhow, my book came by parcel post last week, completely out of the blue!   A huge book all the way from Dallas!  What fun!

Now, you and I know that unless I win the lottery (slightly unlikely as I've never bought a ticket), I'm not likely to employ a decorator.  That said, I read loads of decorating blogs for inspiration; as in inspiration to do housework as much as do decorate.  However, it has occurred to me that given that we live in a slightly older pile of bricks, there is always the odd crack here or there that needs addressed.  For this reason (and Bill's retired anyhow, right?) re-decorating opportunities come around a bit more often than if we lived in a modern house. 

Whilst a good number of the ideas in French Impressions work best with ultra high ceilings, wood panelled walls, huge French windows and stone spiral staircases, there was a room I really loved.  The colour scheme was largely cream and brown neutrals, but with bright red accents:  a high backed chair, a book, a lampshade, some flowers.  The red drew the eye around the room looking for more red.  It was lovely.   Later, it dawned on me that I'd used these colours in our kitchen!   My favourite room appears on Tish's website as well, so I'm guessing she liked it, too. 

Lovely pictures aside, Betty Lou also highlights some specific ideas in the link above, in case you are like me and don't always see what you are looking at.  Sometimes I need ideas spelled out for me in words as well.

Bill had a look through the book and also admired the architecture.  One thing that struck him, though, was how shiny and new everything looked, which he thought gave it away as being aimed at the American market.  Europeans don't appreciate shiny newness in the same way.   Betty Lou's tips at the lower end of the cost scale include

Be very selective when purchasing the new.


Seat the humble across from the haughty, the ordinary across from the extraordinary; good taste is not about personal wealth or visual extravagance.

Daily Connoisseur describes it as rejection of new materialism.  British interior designer, Nicky Haslam, describes this idea using the words 'patina' and 'pleasant decay'.  

One of my favourite books, Watching the English, describes the different ways in which the English classes decorate their homes:  

...the way in which we arrange, furnish and decorate our homes is largely determined by social class.  This has little or nothing to do with wealth.  Upper-class and upper-middle-class homes tend to be shabby, frayed and unkempt in a way no middle-middle or lower-middle would tolearate, and the homes of the wealthiest working-class nouveaux-riches are full of extremely expensive items that the uppers and upper-middles regard as the height of vulgarity. 

I don't claim to be upper anything, but I do prefer my old, eclectic furniture to anything too new and grand.  So, next time you look around and think everything looks a bit 'used', just tell yourself it's very 'European'! 


JO said...

We are in Savannah, GA and you would love it here. Savannah is neat the way it is designed around their many squares. As we pass the homes and can peek in the windows I see furniture that would go with your GM's furniture.

Shelley said...

Oh, I do love Savannah! All that Spanish moss hanging off the trees used to just make me melt! Is it warm there? We have 40 degrees and thick fog...

Jo said...

Yes it is warm here, in the high 70's. I am in summerware. We have the windows open on the coach, which allows me to smell others cooking supper, so best get started.