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12 Romantic Bedrooms
These bedrooms score high marks for their fabulous country French aesthetic and supremely relaxing auras
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Feminine details, rich patina, and quiet palettes are recurring characteristics in these truly romantic bedrooms.
“In the United States, there’s a tendency to Americanize what we think of as country French design, and make it busier and more colorful than it actually is,” says interior designer Linda McDougald. “But in reality, if you travel to the South of France, simplicity is what you’ll see. That’s why I like to play things way down—it allows us to be more authentic.”
In this master bedroom, McDougald called on paneled walls to confer old-world elegance. A linen-upholstered bed provides a stately focal point. Its painted finish, like that of the bench at its footboard, is worn to suggest an aged finish.
Neutral color choices keep the look current while imparting an intrinsic old-world vibe. “Provence is full of places with walls in shades of white and gray,” McDougald says. “It’s the nature of old plaster to gray over time, which is why those colors provide an authentic backdrop for today’s country French look—even if you skip the plaster, as we did.”
Exquisite antiques and modern finds live happily together in this New Orleans bedroom crafted by decorator Alix Rico. The silvery-blue palette reflects the sparkling waters of the pool that is visible through a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. The contemporary iron bed’s aged-silver finish complements its antique Italian counterparts including a silver-leaf lamp, plaque, and footed bench.
“The homeowners defy the ‘look but don’t touch’ mentality by letting their children and pets actually live with the antiques, not just around them,” Alix says. “If you think about it, antiques are really family-friendly. They have withstood generations of use and yet they still radiate beauty. Their patina reflects the love they have received over the course of a few centuries.”
Bedroom with Patina
For Lisa and Trip Ludwig, family heirlooms and fond memories are the foundation for gracious living in a fine French manor home. Hand-picked, wide-plank heart-pine floors salvaged from a rice mill in Southwestern Louisiana lend this new bedroom instant age. An antique Italian bed adds color and European flair.
“A home exudes comfort and elegance from its layers—without them it would just be a house that is barren and sterile,” interior designer Anne Barnett Parker says.
Patinas and forms take a turn toward sublime in the master bedroom of this Dallas home, where luxuriant upholstered walls showcase a stately bedstead awash in creams, blues, and silvery tones. A painted-panel ceiling keeps the mood relaxed. Old linen grain sacks adorn Louis XVI chairs set in the bay window, and William and Mary antique chests frame a bedstead that shimmers with silvery embellishments.
“This house is all about detail, detail, and more detail,” interior designer Barbara Vessels says. “It’s an inviting home that’s warm, casually elegant, and sophisticated. It’s a house that you feel comfortable in whether you’re wearing jeans or a tuxedo! The master bedroom combines the elegant and the informal and a mostly cream scheme to make it feel serene.”
After relocating more than a dozen times during their married life, Vesta and Dan Gray know they prefer living with the romance of French architecture. So when a manor of perfect Gallic proportions materialized in Charlotte, North Carolina, prior to their latest move, they were quite sure it was meant to be theirs. “The house felt and looked like it belonged on the beautiful old estates we’ve admired in France,” Vesta says. “The stone floors, arched doorways, and rustic beams were truly French and not a builder’s fantasy.”
Vesta, with the help of interior designer Leo Dowell, continued that level of authenticity in her daughter’s bedroom by turning a mirrored dressing screen into a linen-paneled headboard. Its canopy is made from a metal cornice. Both pieces were found at a Charlotte flea market.
Desiree Ashworth once asked her husband Matt, “Do you ever get tired of the color of the grass or sky?” The answer, of course, was no—a logical justification for the subdued theme of greens and blues carried throughout this home in the mountains near Park City, Utah.
The natural palette roots this modern-day cottage in French country style. “I’m obsessed with French design,” says Desiree, an interior designer. “We’ve been to France several times, and I love the architecture there—the symmetry of the buildings and cottages.”
The Ashworths recreated those architectural details, with additional influences from Belgium and Sweden, in a house they designed and built themselves.
In their master bedroom, a European flavor is encouraged by a 1920s Murano chandelier, a French campaign bed, and a linen-upholstered Belgian bench. A raffia headboard and sisal carpet offset the elegance with raw, earthy texture.
Featuring calming colors, rustic antiques, and a contented c’est la vie attitude, this waterside home welcomes visitors to settle in and relax. “This house is about family and friends,” homeowner and interior designer Mary Jo Donohoe says. “We’re always barefoot and casual here. The balance of the house is just comfortable. It’s where we go to unwind.” That’s not to say the house is frumpy or filled with cast-off furnishings typical in second homes. Mary Jo spent the 12 months of the home’s construction dictating one-of-a-kind architectural elements and overseeing elegant finishes so the house would reflect her and Jim’s sophisticated European tastes.
To that end, the ceiling in the master bedroom has a deliberately unfinished look, and metal support rods slice the air. As contrast, Mary Jo installed a statuesque tester bed and a pair of refined bergères beneath it. Tall, sparkly mirrors perch atop flaky bedside chests.
Light and Bright
The allure of timeworn treasures has captivated interior designer Elizabeth Aiken Barnette since she was a college student studying abroad in London. While her friends were snapping up souvenirs such as T-shirts and miniature Eiffel towers during an excursion to Paris, Elizabeth couldn’t resist the charms of an antique crystal chandelier that she spotted sitting outside an antiques shop.
Elizabeth’s love of the countryside shines through in such elements as the master bedroom’s exposed rustic beam made of reclaimed wood. “I prefer the wildflowers and cobblestone roads of the countryside over the grandioso floral designs of the Ritz Carlton,” she says.
Nice and Neutral
Sometimes stars align, life experiences converge, and good fortune unfolds. Such was the case for interior designer Kim Mauney. The native Californian serendipitously discovered a North Carolina setting ideally suited to her distinctive design vision—a refined and relaxed aesthetic shaped by decades of West Coast living, visits to France, and an affinity for Southern design.
"I love antiques, painted patinas, and French furnishings," says Kim. "But, I present those formal pieces in informal ways. I use simply lined cabinets, sea grass rugs, and dark finishes that have a masculine feel, which I love to balance with softer feminine-lined French pieces."
Neutral walls and woodwork (oftentimes painted the same off-white hue) fashion low-contrast backdrops that highlight antique accessories and furnishings. The backgrounds showcase breezy window treatments, understated upholstery fabrics, and surfaces rendered in shades of cream, wheat, gray, and French blue. It is these graceful touches, muted hues, and gilded relics that forge charmingly cohesive rooms that issue a siren's call to family and friends.
A reproduction French canopy bed, scallop-edged linen draperies, pillows covered in Pierre Frey fabrics, and an antique chair dressed in informal checks give this guest bedroom collected Continental character.
Reclaimed lumber is used generously throughout the interior of this eight-year-old home to give the soul of a centuries-old provincial French manor. Hardy ceiling beams and floors, featuring their original nail holes and saw marks, are made from dirty-top antique heart pine recovered from dilapidated barns and warehouses across the South. Forgoing contemporary building practices, the floorboards are mounted atop purlins to capture the hollow rhythm of footsteps commonly heard in historic homes.
In the master bedroom, created by interior designer Nancy Price, color and texture are carefully weighed to create a peaceful balance. Light-weight Belgian linens and woven cottons in muted hues serve as counterpoints to the heavy millwork and the hard-edged wrought iron bed. A chandelier repurposed from a wooden wine barrel dangles overhead.
Folks arriving at this Arizona home know they have arrived somewhere truly special. The grilled front gate, fetching French doors, arched doorways, and exterior stonework duplicate architectural elements and design ideas viewed by the homeowners on their travels through Provence. Inside the 2-year-old home, time-honored architectural details and French antiques presented in airy finishes and updated fashion give a nod to periods past in modern ways.
This refreshing translation of country French style results from a 36-year-long friendship between interior designer Pat Hasbrook and the homeowners, long-time Scottsdale homebuilders who designed the one-story home to satisfy their desires for living lighter, easier, and cozier.
A documented replica of a historic European textile, an over-scale floral fabric creates a stylish splash in the master bedroom. Painted bedside tables and a Gustavian bench dressed in a large buffalo plaid contribute antiqued finishes and carved details; an 1860s chandelier carried from the homeowners' previous home adds sophisticated shimmer.
White oak beams in this serene master bedroom wear a chalky gray wash that interior designer Ann-Marie Barton says knocks the newness off them. “It’s a way to dirty the wood, to make the new wood look old,” she says. “We were trying to imitate the look of French white oak.”
Barton chose furniture from companies specializing in French and European reproductions, as well as a few iconic contemporary tastemakers, such as John Saladino as she decorated the home. “It’s the merging of vintage into modern,” she says of her selection of elegant, unfussy pieces covered in natural linen.
The Sidecar, price available upon request from Moore & Giles [1-800-737-0169]
This beautifully crafted bar cart, The Sidecar by Moore and Giles, is a great way to store liquor, glassware, bar tools, and anything else needed to complete your own miniature bar. The cart, made of Virginia black walnut, birch, leather, aluminum, and brass, is wheeled to make sure the party can travel with you. Perfect for drink-lovers without the space for a full bar.