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Home Decorating Overview

In home decorating, add French period style with just a few important accent pieces, or create a period room with architectural details, furniture and accessories all relating to one place and time.  For an eclectic look (collected over time), use one period as the dominant theme for the room and then add some accents from a period either right before or after, i.e., a predominantly Louis XV room with references to Louis XIV or Louis XVI.  The Home Decorating Period Chart is a reference for understanding the attributes which define the key French periods.  In general, the classic form was designed and produced for the king, so it tends to be more elegant and would have appeared at court first.  Regional styles are more rustic and functional.  They were inspired by the royal pieces, but appeared later and changed slowly.  Time periods are approximate and overlap.  For definitions, please see the French Dictionary of Home Decorating Design Terms.

Home Decorating Period Style Chart

Period Dates Characteristics Furniture Materials/Color
Louis XIII 1610-1661 simple forms, spiral legs, bun feet, diamond point, upholstered chair, canopy bed, armoire  inlays, ebony, silk, velvet, damask, tapestries, Colors (entire room matched): red, olive, purple, beige, white
Louis XIV 1661-1715 French classicism, luxury (Versailles), symmetry, sun motif, scroll leg, bronze elements at corners silver furniture, fauteuil (1650), canopy from ceiling, daybeds, X- stools, armoire ebony, marquetry, marble, gilt, silver, bronze, tortoiseshell, silk & velvet with gold embroidery, tapestries, Colors: red, blue, green, white
Louis XV/


1715-1774 golden age of French furniture, craftsmanship, refinement, curves, asymmetry, branches, flowers, shells, monkeys, dolphins, latticework, cherubs, wreaths bergère (1730), occasional tables,  escritoire, bureau plat, commode with serpentine front, drum table  carved wood paneling, lacquer, gilt, painted wood, marquetry, vernis Martin, caning, petit point, Sevres plaques, gilt bronze  Colors: black & gold lacquer, exotically colored woods


  inspired by Louis XV & XVI, exuberant, functional, rustic, local flora & fauna motifs, bun or scroll feet, metal fittings, hinges panetière, kneading trough, armoire,  2-3 drawer chest, 2-tiered buffet  burnished iron, lacquer, local woods, limited: painted wood, marble, marquetry  Color: olive green, red & green
Louis XVI/


1774-1789 Greek & Roman, symmetry, perfect proportions, delicate, straight lines, geometric shapes, fluted legs, swags, ribbon bows, flowers, rosettes, urns, laurel, trophies, cupids demi-lune, mechanical tables & desks marquetry, bronze beaded molding, walls w/rectangular paneling painted white with gilding, exotic woods, painted woods, wallpapers, silk  Colors:  pastels


1789-1820 Egypt/Imperial Rome, diamond shapes, curved Greek leg, scroll arms, winged female sphinxes, quivers, palmettes, lions, wheat,  bees, eagles, swans, winged victories, laurel wreaths, "N" dining room table, guéridon, casters on large pieces, jardinière, bookcases  draped fabric walls, printed fabrics, brocaded silk, striped paper & fabric,  elm burl, gilt bronze, gilt copper, silver, blued steel  Colors: crimson, emerald
Art Nouveau 1895-1914 naturalistic, roots, bent branches, corkscrews, concave edges   chased bronze, inlays, enameled iron, ceramics, glassware, stained glass
Art Deco/Designer Decor/Moderne 1918-1939 rectilinear, no reference to the past, ornamental motifs eliminated   steel tube frames painted or chrome plated, stainless steel, brushed aluminum, mirror, shagreen, velvet w/ geometric printed pattern, parchment, eggshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, polished veneers and lacquers, silver and gold leaf.  Color: White, beige, gold lacquer

Louis XV (Rococo) 1715-1774 (Regency 1715-1730)

Louis XVI (Neoclassicism) 1774-1789

Directoire  1789-1804  Empire 1804-1820

Empire (late Neoclassicism) followed the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It draws Imperial references from the Roman Caesars to glorify Napoleon. Egyptian motifs are also used to commemorate his invasion there. Percier and Fontaine  were responsible for the remodel of Malmaison and its interiors and published the definitive book for this style. 

Modern (Art Deco) 1918-1939

Named for the 1925 Expositon Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The stars were Rene Lalique, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Jules Leleu and Jean-Michel Frank

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Last modified: August 29, 2022