The kings of France were the original taste makers. They set the style and everybody copied, and they each built on and rebelled against forms and materials of their predecessors. Pretty much everyone has a king’s style that they identify with whether they know it or not! It is like a Myers-Briggs personality test, only at the end you decorate your house, instead of just finding out that you are awkward in certain social situations!
Do you love nautical interiors, long historical novels, musing over a glass of scotch by the fire, and listening to Bach? You may love Louis XIII’s style. His architectural massive forms of solid wood with handsome geometric design will give your space that serious, sophisticated, yet unfussy feel you exude.
Do you love period dramas? Do you dream of visiting Versailles, enjoy masquerades, and listen to opera? You probably would have enjoyed living during the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV! His grand sumptuous style defined regality! Lively carving, a massive presence, and a heavy masculine reserve.
Do you love gardening, romantic comedies, Mozart, and silk? You would most likely feel at home in the airy and exuberant spaces created by Louis XV. Delicate lines, lighter forms, and lively ornate asymmetrical carvings define his forms. Louis XV pieces look fantastic juxtaposed in shabby spaces.
Are you a peace maker? Do you love fine wines and serene spaces? You may not know it, but you might be a subject of Louis XVI. His wife’s famous style is a bit flamboyant, but the design of Louis XVI is actually very symmetrical and sleek. Louis XVI antiques remain the most versatile (and copied) of all French antique styles. Louis XVI pieces look spectacular in modern and traditional spaces, and their often petite proportions make them ideal for apartments. If anyone ever wants to anchor a dining room in high style, nothing ever works quite as well as a set of Louis XVI cameo back chairs!
Do you like archery? Do you enjoy shabby yet luxurious country estates and lawn games? You may be a Directoire fan! Directoire is a brief period in French design history, only fifteen years. However, the long term impact of those arrows is still going strong! People who have estates just outside New York and Washington love to outfit them with Directoire mirrors and tables. With clean lines, nicely aged and painted finishes with gilt arrows, the style lends itself well to sporty, stylish, but understated folks!
Are you obsessed with being the best? Do you love power and tradition? Do you have a favorite cognac? You may be a fan of Napoleon! Non? Oui! Napoleon’s style is authoritative, opulent, and steeped in classicism. He co-opted the motifs of ancient Greece and Rome and reinterpreted them through the French lens. Smooth columns with beautiful bronze Corinthian capitals, rich woods with deep burl, and the perfect veneer-work only the French ébénistes could create defined a great deal of his style.
Do you like British Victorian period pieces? Did you love Downton Abby and teacups? You may like Restauration furniture! A very formal style without any fuss, Restauration pieces are demure, coquettish even, the most English of all the French designs! The style was a reaction to the power and opulence of Napoleon’s empire. Restauration pieces have soft curves and light ornamentation, very little bronze, but some interesting inlay. These pieces are elegant and formal and look right at home in very traditional spaces.
Do you love yachts? Trick question, everyone loves yachts! What I should have said is do you love adoring, pristine, uninterrupted beautiful wood surfaces? You then, are probably a fan of Louis Philippe! No other antique French mode could easily be confused with brand new luxury styles like Louis Philippe. Louis Philippe’s design is defined by simple sleek forms without any ornamentation which allows for the style’s preference for fantastic rich burled woods to shine. When most men find themselves face to face with the book matched burl Rorschach test façade of a Louis Philippe armoire, it is a sure thing that their deepest psyche discovers it is a loyal subject of Louis Philippe!
Do you enjoy Audrey Hepburn flicks? New York cocktail parties and French pop? You may love Napoleon III, the smooth black lacquer finishes and tailored bronze and gold details look fantastic in fashionable spaces juxtaposed with bold colorful fabrics. This is the style that defines upper east side Manhattan apartments and manages to be equally loved by men and women alike.
Pick your king! Embrace your style! Rule your space!