Enjoy those French fancies
Carolyn Westbrook is a Francophile: and her new book, Through The French Door, passes along the decorating repertoire that she has applied to her own home in a beautiful 1800s plantation home in Texas, America.
Her well-researched ideas could be a template for Francophiles this side of the Atlantic looking for a Romantic look.
"My love affair with France began long before I ever set foot in Paris," said the designer.
"I've always been drawn to the intricate detailing of French furniture and mouldings, and their tradition of passing antiques from one generation to the next."
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In her home, she embraces a variety of styles, from the grand salon through to rustic and Parisian chic.
"Many people are faced with a blank canvas when decorating their homes and all those white walls and empty spaces can be daunting," she says.
"It's a good idea to break the space down into smaller areas, to help warm up a room and make it more intimate and comfortable. Oil paintings and collections tell a story and add interest."
A lounge encapsulates the essence of French salon living.
"But there's no hint of pretentiousness or stuffiness, which is what I love about this style," says Carolyn. "Everything in the room's been carefully chosen, which takes years of collecting."
She's chosen a range of fabrics for soft furnishings, but the colours and patterns blend harmoniously. A profusion of table lamps makes lighting soft and balanced.
The dining room overlooking the countryside houses a blend of pine and china.
In her kitchen, instead of a rustic French farmhouse theme which would be all too predictable, she's evoked a sense of drama with a black and white scheme.
"When I opted for black cabinets, that was unheard of at the time, but they set off the white countertops and sink perfectly," she says.
"I have various collections of antique dishes, and I swap around each collection so they can all be appreciated.
"I love to use bold, colourful flower arrangements."
Monochrome continues in the sun porch with black and white striped curtains, and a white vintage dove cage and zebra rug. She's continued this theme in one bathroom, where exuberant Toile de Jouy fabrics contrast with glossy black walls.
Nowhere is her enthusiasm for French romance more evident than in the bedrooms. One is totally feminine with her favourite shade of pink used subtly in flowers and paisley bedding, with a bright pink chest flanked by simple white chairs.
Another has theatricality, with the bedhead, a stunning antique mirror and velvet drapes which once dressed a stage, providing the backdrop beyond.
"The beauty of French style is that it's so versatile and can be adapted to suit. All that's essential is that your home should envelop you in beauty, familiarity and comfort."
Through the French Door: Romantic Interiors Inspired By Classic French Style by Carolyn Westbrook is published by CICO Books, £19.99. Available to readers for £17.99 (inc P&P). Call 01256 302699 and quote ref GLR 7WE