Recently, I’ve been reading MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child. Not only does she describe the food in delicious, detail, but also the wonderful experience of living in Paris. She paints a beautiful picture of the day to day activities that she and her husband took part in, along with the apartments that they called home during their life abroad. She narrates the furnished, apartment that she and her husband Paul moved into shortly after arriving in Paris, which they lovingly nicknamed, “Roo De Loo”, and describes the landlord’s taste as “dating to the last century, and looking faintly ridiculous: decorated in Louis XVI style”. When she and Paul were reassigned to Marseilles, and had to move out of Roo De Loo, they explained to the landlord that she may have to update the furnishings in order to re rent to other Americans who were the prime source of rental income. Of course the land lord was appalled and “couldn’t fathom why we young American whippersnappers didn’t see the quality of the dark green moth eaten velvet on mahogany that, back in 1875 had been the chicest thing in all of Paris”.
As a designer, I often see that in my clients’ furnishings. Perhaps it’s been given to them, and they can’t bear to part with it, even if it’s old, nasty, and falling apart. But today I want to focus on the style that Julia refers to, and re-visit the “Louis” era chair, specifically the XV, since I appreciate the gentler angles and organic elements.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet to recognizing one:
- Seat backs are framed with molded and/or curved wood
- Seat backs are often cartouche-shaped (read: rounded ovals)
- An emphasis on comfort means that seat backs are often gently angled
- The crest rail — or top curve of the seat back frame — features carvings, or even a central medallion
- Armrests are shorter (Trivia: they shrunk to accommodate increasingly full skirts)
- Chair legs are placed at an angle
- Cabriole, or S-curved, leg shapes are popular
Source: First Dibs
If you find one and love the style but don’t love the musty upholstery, I’ve added some inspiration for you to re-imagine an updated, fun version. Enjoy!