French Style Interior Design

When we say the words ‘french style interiors’ we immediately think of elegance, classic french interior design, and a timelessness that is hard to beat. Today we will explore this elegant french interior design in more detail, but also the side to french interior design you may not know about – the more modern french style of interior design.

What Is French Interior Design?

French interior design uses classic french design principles generally coined in the 1600’s at the height of the monarchy. This fashion has adapted and changed through time. 

French Aesthetic

Let’s start with the basics – French Furniture is a double edged sword. On one hand we have the French Royal Furniture. This mostly refers to styles of furniture that were made in Paris for aristocrats, the monarchy, and people in high society here we are all about exuberance, pomp and ceremony. 

Then we have French Provincial, which is much more humble, refined, and has its own charm. These are the two main styles that make up French Interior Design. There are others, for example Rococo era, and Parisian styles. 

As with any fashion, these styles changed over time, as people change, the modern styles follow. 



modern french interior design

Characteristics Of French Interior Design

I want to look at the history of French Classic Style Interior Design, and compare their design features. You may recognise these typical french things  in modern design, and modern french interiors that you see today . 

French Classicism

French Classicism started in the 17th century and is perhaps the most recognised style era in French design history. Also known as French Baroque, this era of architecture managed to influence all areas of French society. This is seen a lot in modern french style bedroom furniture and French apartments.  

Many buildings in France still boast this architecture and french classic style interior design. Think the Palace of Versailles. Take a visit for some french classic interior design ideas!

French Baroque Interior Design

french baroque interior design


french baroque interior design

French baroque used bold, deep colours and influenced art, fashion and interior design all over Europe. This style is perfect for a french style living room, as Baroque has some of the best examples of French Home Decor. 

French Baroque Interior Design History

Taking some time to adapt from the previous era, French Baroque resisted the more European, ornate trends, and kept more with the Louis XIV style of the past, geometric order, less decorative interiors. As time moved on, and a century passed, Rococo became more fashionable and brought about more ornate designs.

French Rococo Interior Design

Exceptionally theatrical and ornamental, this is Rococo. Known for its use of Pastels and White, Sculpted moulding and asymmetry.  This time period is interesting. Most experts agree that Rococo branches directly from the Baroque era. Rococo was most prominent in the 18th century and has made a lasting impact on French Design today. This is often seen in modern Parisian apartments. 

French Rococo Interior Design


French Rococo Interior Design

The French Rococo Interior Design History

This style of furniture is exceptionally ornate and detailed. Rococo originated as a backlash to the harsh geometric style era of Louis XIV. The exuberant decadence of these designs were aimed to impress and awe their guests at first site, and one can understand why! Especially as this was 18th century France. Personally, I think Rococo works best in a french style bedroom. There are a lot of Rococo items to add to your for your french style bedroom ideas.

French Neoclassical Interior Design

Again, inspired by Roman architecture, and the recent discovery of ancient roman towns Herculaneum and Pompeii, the Neoclassical era was born. Also triggered by a retaliation to the excessively ornate Rococo era, this style found its way into the 19th century fabric.

The furniture was often large, rectangular and highly decorated. 

Influenced by Marie Antoinette, in the late 18th century this style became slightly lighter , more geometric and ornamented. 

french neoclassicism interior desin


french neoclassicism interior design

French Revolution Interior Design

This is also Neoclassical era. During the French Revolution many of this classic furniture was stolen, burnt, or sold abroad. Some items remain however, and can be seen in museums across the world.

The best examples of this are seen in French Chateaus. There are some stunning examples of french chateau beds and dressing tables across France still. Maybe take a visit to get some French chateau design ideas! 




19th Century French Interior Design

The French Empire refers to the style of the early 19th century. This directly followed the Neoclassicism era. It saw a return of displaying richness and luxurious items. Heavily influenced by the Romans, and their more simple approach to architecture.

French Empire Interior Design

Think famous monuments, such as The Arc De Triomphe in Paris is the quintessential display of Empire architecture. Although the style brought back more of the classic elegance than Neoclassicism, it was still more refined than the Rococo era. You can find some impressive french style chairs cheap from this era, a perfect bold statement piece. 

French Victorian Interior Design

The turn of the 20th century stated the Victorian era, the growth of industry and technology. After the French revolution, there was an outcry to regain some form of normality, and a new era of style was born. Think French Bordello interior design, and eclectic styles. Check out my blog post on how to decorate brilliantly, but cheaply, just like the Victorians did! 

French Eclectic Interior Design

The Eclectic era does what it says on the tin, it was a mixture of the best parts of all french interior design gone before, all mixed together. We have the grand designs of Neoclassical, but also the delicate intricacies that came with Rococo.

This was also mixed in with some eastern design elements that came with the influx of trade. The eclectic era is perfect to get some french style bedroom ideas from as it mixes all elements of french decor ideas. 

French Minimalist Interior Design

After reading all of this , you may be thinking do French and Minimalist go in the same sentence? And I am here to tell you – Yes!  You have to be rather strict and pick out a few choice items that match, and be aware of your colour scheme. But beautiful french design can work in a minimalist environment. 

french minimalist interior design


french minimalist interior design

Antique French Interior Design

All of these aforementioned eras will have hidden charms, you may even hate some of them! But that is what art and design are there for. You may also find some antiques from one of these eras.

Mixing Antique with Contemporary is a brilliant way to incorporate some fab shabby chic elements in your home. The bonus is that they are always a focal point! If you want an item to steal the show, think French. Maybe a french style desk for your new french boudoir interior design project? 

Vintage French Interior Design

As with antique , there is also vintage. Pick up some fantastic items from local antique shops, or architectural salvage yards near you. Vintage style decor is still heavily in at the moment, and French style works so well with a bunch of other styles.

Modern French Inspired Interior Design 

Nowadays with modern french interior design, you may not want an original Rococo bedside table as its style may not fit in with today, but you may want to take elements from these eras and use them for a more french chic bedroom. french contemporary interior design combines old with new, and makes it fit in with the 21st century.

This is what style you will find predominantly in French Apartments, and Modern Parisian Apartments. 

French Provincial Interior Design Style

I purposefully left this  until last, because this is a bit of an anomaly. As with all of the previous french decor design eras and styles, this was only really available to the aristocracy of the time. The expense of these gold cladded, flamboyant french design would not have been made available to the everyday Frenchperson. 

french provencal interior design style refers to the more rustic, homely, provincial side of french homes. This style can also be referred to as French Shabby chic decor.




French Provincial Interior Design History

French provincial style is a mixture of rustic elements and French Baroque. These items would not be made in Paris, but by lesser craftsmen sometimes, and had to be more durable and long lasting rather than ornate. Because of this, if you are looking for  French Provincial Interior Design Ideas, they can be very varied and fit into many different moulds. 

French Provincial Interior Design Characteristics

Look out for the combination of Rustic french furniture and elegance. You may notice carved wood features, with floral patterns. Look out for dark wood and stone. If this is your first french provincial home interior design project, you may look out for the colours lavender, yellow, and blue, these are very prominent colours in rustic french interior design.


To conclude; there are so many different design styles of French Interior Design, and hopefully you picked up some tips and ideas for furnishing your own home or apartment.

What I come away with after this, is that design should be about picking the best parts of all the eras and coming up with a new twist to make it more modern. A bit like the eclectic era in Victorian times. 

Mixing the old with the new is the best way to go!