A Guide to Buying French Style Furniture

Posted 29th August 2017 11:53

For those of us who like a certain timeless elegance and skilled detail in our home, furniture in the French tradition can offer us all we need. It’s one of the most popular styles of interior décor for just that reason. But depending on what pieces we use, how they’re aged or kept fresh, and what particular details we want, we can achieve a wide variety of looks with just one style of furniture. Here are a few ways to decide what we want from your French furniture and how we get it.

The Jargon

Many French furniture names, such as armoire and chaise lounge, are common household names. But finding the right piece and deciding where to fit in the home can often require a deeper knowledge of the names used. Here are a few worth learning

● Bonnetiere: Narrow cupboards used to offer vertical space, often placed in the hall.
● Buffet: A long-dresser with multiple storage compartments, coming in single and double varieties. One of the most versatile pieces, it often finds it’s way into living rooms and bathrooms alike.
● Commode: Particularly elaborate drawers, often topped with marble.
● Table de Chevet: A bedside table.
● Vitrine: Much like an armoire, only this is a display cabinet with a glass front, often used to hold the best china or antique collections.

Know the different styles

French furniture describes a rather wide range of different styles, each bearing their own signature marks. When you think of French furniture, you might imagine one style but find several pieces in a style that’s quite distinct. To make sure you find the pieces you want, you should learn the different details.


Often the most expensive and detailed. As the name suggests, it grew from the courts of the French monarchy and specific designs often bear the names of monarchs such as Louis. These designs tend to be more elaborate and finely crafted, with each monarch bearing its own particular patterning.


Moving slightly out of the courts of nobility, the Parisian style served the city at large traditionally. This is what most people tend to imagine when they hear of French furniture. The hand-carved curve of the legs and the flourish of the trim are some of the signatures but they tend to be somewhat less ornate than the Royal style, making them more usable and often more in keeping with contemporary tastes.


Outside the streets of the Paris is a wide country with a broad range of tastes. Provincial French furniture designs inherit many of the sensibilities of Parisian pieces, but offer a much broader variety at the same time, overlapping different styles together. Many provincial styles tend to bear more rustic, countryside themes than the metropolitan focus of their predecessors too.

The Vintage Appeal

There are plenty of pieces in all three styles that are carefully cared for and well-maintained, bringing that timeless quality that makes them look as gorgeous and expressive today as they have for hundreds of years. However, many of us love the French furniture style precisely because it is vintage and it brings with it a certain nostalgia. Many choose to look for pieces that fit this “shabby chic” motif with more distressed features.

Being equipped with the right knowledge of different pieces, different styles, and different levels of distress and polish can help us find the perfect pieces of French furniture. With that knowledge, we can make sure we get exactly the kind of elegance and detail in the home that we want.

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