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An Elegant French Apartment

August 14, 2014

An eclectic mix of furniture styles and objets are harmonised through a proficient use of colour and appreciation for fine details.

French objets d'art including vase and fruit sculpture

Dining room with Louis 15 XV cherrywood dining table and Provence chairs

Venetian murano glass chandelier

French sofa in white damask with Chinese style painting.

French ornaments including Napoleonic camel clock and Waterford crystal vase.

Elegant French lounge room


Jean-Christophe was introduced to this rich provincial interior when the owner, Elizabeth, called looking for some new Louis bergeres and advice on fabrics and colours. They had originally planned to do the consultations over phone and email, but after seeing photos of what was already a lovely home, Jean-Christophe made the trip to Melbourne to see the lush interior for himself.

Elizabeth is a working professional who has collected a beautiful assortment of art and decorative pieces throughout the years. Jean-Christophe was immediately impressed with the considered way that she has peppered her cosy home with these pieces, bringing their stories into each room. He felt moved to ask Elizabeth’s permission to share her interior with the Christophe Living readership, as it is such a wonderful example of the eclectic and romantic approach that the French take to furniture, art and decorative objects.

For the dining room, Elizabeth already had selected a Louis 15-XV provincial dining table in cherrywood and Jean-Christophe advised to add carved Provence dining chairs. The chairs were upholstered to match a bergere in the adjoining room, tying the two spaces together. Above the dining table is the most beautiful pearl and 24 carat gold Venetian Murano glass chandelier that casts a warm amber infused light over the décor and furniture.  A cherrywood sideboard holds a table lamp with antique mirrored facets, cut crystal decanters and a gorgeous ceramic urn filled with antique white ceramic fruits – a reproduction of an ancient Roman sculpture. The vase of white orchids complements the colour scheme, and with the sun filtering through the sheers, it adds an almost dreamy dimension to the light.

In the main lounge area, the existing sofa in white Belgium damask silk with its plump feather and down cushions gives the room that soft French quality. Above it is a Chinese four-panel painting that reflects the French taste for Chinoiserie. At one end of the room a small two-seater sofa, upholstered in French linen, with scalloped back and angled curled arms seems open its arms to welcome us. Underfoot the Versailles oak parquetry floor creates a canvas for all of this furniture and the mix of French and Persian style rugs.

To one side a small console holds a Napoleonic camel clock which matches the Victorian artist George Haight’s painting of Outside the Jail in Tangiers, and a Waterford crystal table lamp that the owner has dressed up with the addition of delicate pink and cream tassels. Though most often people use symmetry as a principle to decorate, in this case the variety works really well by having in common the quality of detail. The mirror behind it adds depth and richness by reflecting the decorative objects and lights from across the room.

The area housing the entertainment system has a lovely dusty pink wall, and to continue this colour scheme, a brass and crystal table lamp has been fitted with a cream and pink shade. Sitting in the corner, inviting us to sit, relax and listen to music is a Louis 15-XV bergere in a yellow and pink toile. The tulip paintings were done by an award-winning Melbourne botanical artist, but sit so well with the rest of the room that they could have come straight from the 18th century.

It’s this bringing together of old and new, of period style and Elizabeth’s personal items, that gives this apartment such a unique elegance; and illustrates how just how well traditional décor can be used without relinquishing individuality.

Jean-Christophe Burckhardt

Jean-Christophe Burckhardt

An expert on interior design, craftsmanship and fine arts, Jean-Christophe has trained extensively in Italy, France and Switzerland. Since moving to Australia, he has supplied many of the country’s grand homes and collected a number of awards for his furniture designs.