French Period Rooms

French Period Rooms

Mark Chamberlain
May 18, 2010

I remember being dragged through historic rooms and period rooms as a child by my Aunt Vi and just hating it — not understanding what all the fuss was about. I suppose as a child, all one wants in a décor is a comfy place to watch TV with your legs in the air. Enter Paris.

It's my understanding the beautification and grooming come before agriculture in human development, and that is something that the French and Italians do better than anyone else: the clothes, the architecture, the ornament, the pruned trees… As far as period rooms go, there are a bunch of French period rooms that date back from the last few hundred years, in a variety of styles and colorways, and may be found at the Louvre, the Musée Carnavalet, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, among others.

I may leave this as a "pretty pictures" post, something to flip through for inspiration when looking for inspiration on other topics. If I'm charged with discussing color, several things pop to mind: how color, wealth and taste were at one point inextricably linked; how Americans (until the last few years, perhaps) still exist in an "it's-too-dark" paradigm dating from the Mid-Century suburban cheap housing explosion; and how the original artists and designers of these rooms are unapologetically unafraid to say "look at this, it's strong, striking color and it's gorgeous. Just do it."

My notes are bad and I'm lazy — suffice it to say that specific styles may be Louis XIV, Louis XVI, Napoleon the Third or Art Deco — but it's all irreducibly French.

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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