French fireplace: features, design, and decorating ideas

A few centuries ago, fireplaces combined decorative and practical functions on an equal footing, but today the first, of course, prevail. Moreover, today, they are considered an attribute of taste, status, and a certain wealth of homeowners. Fireplaces retain their special value in French interiors, where they were treated with particular reverence since Napoleon Bonaparte’s time.

It was in France that artisans began to experiment not only with the construction and functionality of fireboxes but also with design, and over the course of several centuries, they were able to offer homeowners a variety of options – from richly decorated palace options to simple and cozy ones, for which the provincial regions were later famous.

Today, French brands that produce fireplaces remain the undisputed leaders worldwide. These brands produce both classic and modern models; however, the most interesting is the so-called French style options.

Features of French style fireplaces

The combination of the classics, the Renaissance, and the famous provincial style has had the most significant influence on authentic French fireplaces’ design. It is this charming symbiosis that has provided the recognizable features of the designs:

  • Natural materials. French fireplace surrounds are usually made of stone, marble, or natural solid wood. Of course, more modern materials such as drywall and tiles can be used today, but if authenticity is important to you, you should still turn to natural classics.
  • Curved, flowing lines. The design of a French fireplace is, first of all, elegance, grace, and a bewitching pattern. Especially for this, designers use various decorative techniques – such as imitation of columns, monograms, and bas-reliefs.
  • Discreet muted shades. In France, the value of traditions and the past is especially high, and therefore preference is invariably given to things “with history.” No bright and shining with novelty surround will eclipse the charm of the discreet, slightly worn surfaces of fireplaces, as if they had stood in the room for several decades. Light brown, beige, sandy, soft white shades are becoming a key difference in French design.
  • Antiquity effect. As mentioned above, even the chicest and elegant French fireplace necessarily personifies the respectability and inviolability of family traditions that may have evolved over the centuries. Various technologies are used to achieve this appearance. So, wood is painted in two layers using the brushing technique, marble and stone are artificially aged, and metal is patinated. The use of varnishes and paints with a craquelure effect is also not uncommon for French fireplaces.
  • Decor and decoupage. If carvings and bas-reliefs are more typical for fireplaces that are closer in design to the classics, then for French models in which the style of Provence is guessed, decoupage drawings with images of wildflowers are more often chosen, as well as wooden inserts and forged metal gratings without unnecessarily pretentious elements.

As you probably already understood, the design of French style fireplaces may differ. You can appreciate both the casual elegance of the classic marble surrounds and the fireboxes’ natural charm, closer to the French country style. However, their common features remain unchanged – this is unconditional elegance, moderate but obligatory use of decor, antiquity charm, and love for natural materials.

French fireplace: embedding into the interior of the house

Today, French-style fireplaces can be used in a variety of home environments. Depending on where you decided to install the fireplace, you can use the current organic inclusion methods in the interior.

  • Living room. The most popular option for placing a fireplace. Hang a TV over it, place beautiful trinkets on the mantelpiece, place two elegant armchairs and a cozy rug by the hearth – and enjoy the serene and warming atmosphere.
  • Kitchen and dining room. A fireplace for these premises is a must-have for both old and modern French houses. Spices and dried herbs on the mantel, wicker baskets near the hearth, and stylish dishes and embroidered paintings will help to add harmony to it.
  • Bedroom. Reflections of fire flickering in a cozy hearth relax and promote restful sound sleep. That is why French fireplaces are most often installed in front of the bed, and pictures in stylish frames or elegant mirrors are added to complete the composition.

The aesthetics and comfort that the French style is famous for are impossible without a fireplace. By choosing the right design and beautifully decorating the space around the fireplace, you will get a house that will become a quiet haven for you – and a keeper of family warmth.

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