The Art of French Dressing

Collection of French fan mirrors displayed on wall Anthropologie

A collection of French fan mirrors from Anthropologie is an interesting display

French Country-style evokes memories of holidays in rural France and the lifestyle many hanker after, simpler and pared back. French linens on beds, sack cloth cushions, delicate lace panels, shutters and sturdy, functional wooden furniture. However, you need not be a slave to replicate every detail to reproduce this style. Add some modern paintings and lighting as successfully married together at La Souqueto  Chambres D’ Hotes

This style is in stark contrast to excesses of King Louis X1V and the ‘Versailles’ heavily gilded ornate furniture and lavish furnishings (with a lifestyle to match!). French Baroque with grand chandeliers, heavy drapes embellished with brocades hung at large windows and around beds in grand palaces.

Ornate French bedroom

Heavily adorned French bedroom

This of course is different to Parisian homes, where space is generally at a premium. Chic, pared down, with a considered use of available square footage. Think of the famous words of Coco Chanel ‘Less is more’ which is true for interiors as well as fashion.

Then, of course, there is the French Chateau, which can be a mix of ornate furniture, chandeliers, Toile de Jouy fabric and wallpaper, distressed painted wall treatments all add to the atmosphere, to simple lime washed walls.

Before investing in gallons of white paint as a starting point, what about colour? Homes in warmer climates use white to brighten their dark shuttered rooms, but can appear ‘cold’ in more northern homes. Think of the fields of sunflowers and lavender, Monet’s use of colour at his home in Girverny.

Perhaps there are elements from the traditional French interior styles you like and dislike. Try mixing the items you like together, oversized chandeliers with rustic wooden furniture. Simple Roman blinds made from French linen edged with a brocade, picking out colours within the room for a cohesive scheme. Do you want to create a romantic French feel to your bedroom (boudoir!) with lace, Toile in greys and blues or French country kitchen?

Chateau La Lartigolle has beautifully and successfully transformed into a chic boutique country house hotel using a mixture of dark and ‘sludgy’ colours on their interior walls as well as wallpaper. They’ve mixed traditional French style with antique, modern and vintage pieces from 1930’s armchairs to 1950’s side tables, wall art from the 1960’s, including Jimmy Hendrix and modern contemporary pieces. The Chateau creates a surprising eclectic mix which is warm, comfortable and very easy to live with. Ideas to inspire and perhaps steal?

Dark red walls old leather armchair with interesting accessories makes a cosy corner

A cosy corner for a quiet read.

Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle

The Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle is calming and understated.

Mixed Vintage furniture in Chateau Latigolle

Mixed vintage pieces create a comfortable eclectic interior

White wall clock modern and contemporary art pop out against a dark grey wall

Mixed styles work well together

Modern art with pearlescent paint refllects light on a dark wall

Pearlescent paint reflects light in a dark corner.

A glass vignette on a table

A glass vignette

A mantle Piece styled with blue glass ornaments books and bust

A beautifully styled mantle piece

Hearth and fireplace style with Venician mirror bust blue glass and Chinese vases

A mixture of styles and arrangements makes a stunning focal point.

Jimmy Hendrix hangs on wall in Chateau Latigolle

Jimmy Hendrix hung on a sitting room wall at Chateau Latigolle

A glass window vignette at Chateau Latigolle

Window Vignette

Grand staircase dressed with chandelier and modern prints

A grand staircase with chandelier and modern prints

Secret Garden


Sanuk Shop Front

Sanuk Shop Front

Sanuk (pronounced sanook) means in Thai language, to achieve satisfaction, pleasure and enjoyment from whatever you do. Apparently it is a mindset and rule for the Thai people in whatever they do it has to be ‘Sanuk’. Sanuk is where, on a glorious hot and sunny midsummer afternoon I sat in a delightful garden and ‘took tea’ as they say. (whoever ‘they’ might be) with two girlfriends.

We sat beneath an old grapevine in the shade on old rustic wooden furniture. The table was covered in oil cloth patterned with flowers. We were served individual pots of tea for our varying tastes, Earl Grey, Rooibos and English Breakfast. The bone china cups and saucers were a mismatch of vintage designs. We had chosen our homemade cakes of gluten free carrot and chocolate. As we sat and chatted over our tea and cakes we could feel ourselves relaxing. A sense of calm if you like.

After tea we wondered along the rows of many unusual plants for sale in the nursery garden called ‘Little Heath Nursery’.  One friend chose a delicate white alpine that she wanted to plant in a tea cup with a saucer. My friend explained that she had been invited to a 25th wedding anniversary party and the theme was silver and white. The cup and saucer she had purchased was white with silver 25th Anniversary on the side. I think this is a lovely present, as so much thought had gone into it.


At the end of each row of plants were old wooden tables each with a group display of different coloured plants. Some  being flowers and some with interesting foliage. Grouped together were reds, blues, white and purples, cleverly put together for colour and texture. Mood boards for your garden. It was inspirational and looked amazing.


On one side of the garden is a long wooden barn. One visitor described the barn as reminding her of ‘The Gingerbread House’ tucked in the woods. At one end of the barn there is a room for teas, coffee, cake and light lunches. This room is furnished with an eclectic mix of tables and chairs covered in patterned ‘oil cloths’ and on a table to one side sits the various cakes under glass domes. There are Indian textiles decorating the walls they have the aroma of a souk for some reason.

The centre of the barn houses a shop filled with Indian, Thai furniture and accessories. There are antiqued cupboards in turquoise, carved wooden wall decorations and an Indian four poster bed complete with a heavily embroidered bedspread and cushions. A good place to hunt for unusual items for your home. At the other end of the barn there is another small shop called Deja Vu which sells Antique and vintage lighting ( pendants and lamps)  and mirrors of various sizes. ( This shop only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  Definitely worth a look.

A separate barn sells a few salvaged and restored fireplaces and bags of logs. The whole place is void of commercialism, that is obviously a business and livelihood for the owners.

Sanuk is quiet and tranquil.  It is open all year round, however it is especially lovely during the warmer months to enjoy the garden. Sanuk is hidden behind trees in a small lane in a village called Potten End just outside Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. ‘Sanuk’ was an easy mindset to achieve whilst there. I only hope I can achieve the same when carrying out more arduous tasks on a day to day basis.

A delightful garden and barns  -Sanuk

A delightful garden and barns -Sanuk