For the past 12 years, I have been formulating a plan to live in France. In 2000 we bought an old Normandy longere to - one day - renovate. That day arrived in 2004 when circumstances conspired to enable a move to France.
There are a number of books around that concentrate on real French rural style. But. That authentic style often relies on cracked walls and rising damp - which leads to an authentic lifting of the paintwork or wallpaper from the walls and an occasionally overwhealming musty smell. Photos of authentic rural style often depict cracked, entirely unhygenic tiling of walls and floors, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Yes, it's *very* authentic and I would *frame* some of those picture to hang on my newly renovated walls, my damp-proofed, insulated walls. However, the reality is that with authentic style comes draughts, dampness, mould and cobwebs. The reality is... the average British (or American, or Dutch or Parisien) renovater doesn't truly aspire to authentic 30s rural French living. Which is exactly why this book is good.
This book presents pretty, fairly pristine, damp-proofed, renovated French interiors. Yes, it is a representation of French style as of the turn of the century (that would be the 21st century) but I do think this realistic approach succeeds in a number of ways. It does use a fair amount of older French furniture, it does use French colours, it does arrange rooms in a distinctly French way. Using this book as an aid to styling does work. It gets one's eye into recent French style. The ideas it presents are attainable at a sensible budget (with judicious use of depot ventes, brocantes, vide greniers) and they are ideas that are comfortable to live with. And that is what really matters.
I've bought a number of French style books and in my opinion, this is one of the most useable. Some of the narrative is a bit twee but that is my main criticism.