Monday, April 7, 2008

Style Guide: Colonial Farmhouse With French Flair

French country antiques and sunny cotton fabrics infuse a Connecticut Colonial farmhouse with European flair.

The rooms of this 1706 home reveal a passion for things French as well as a playful sense of style. "Nothing pleases me more than combining formal and country French antiques," remarks the homeowner. It is the unique combination of fabrics, furnishings, and collectibles that has enabled her to transform a New England home into a charming Provençal farmhouse.

French Souleiado fabrics are used throughout the house, from the cheery yellow and blue theme of the keeping room to the sumptuous red of the living room. Literally translated, Souleiado refers to the filtered light of the sun as it breaks through the clouds of an afternoon rain. The term is now used to describe a style of colorful French printed cotton fabrics.

"The versatility of Souleiado fabrics allows me the fun of juxtaposing patterns and colors," she adds. To share in the delights of Provence and the beautiful color and patterns of Souleiado fabrics, the owner has invited us to spend an afternoon.

Entrez vous, s'il vous plâit.

Keeping Room

The keeping room is painted a lively yellow ("A vist to Monet's home at Giverny inspired my choice of color," says the homeowner). She fashioned the same blue-and-ocher fabric on the dining chairs into curtains and upholstery cushions. The printed fabric contrasts nicely with the woven rug underfoot.

A tasty fireside treat has been set out on the walnut farm table. Other treasures include antique copper cookware and a 19th-century cherry bench.

Corner Detail

A built-in cabinet, original to the house, dominates a corner of the keeping room. The glass panel door has been left open to reveal a beautiful collection of 18th- and 19th-century majolica, jaspé, and faïence platters, milk pitchers, wine jugs, and mustard pots.

The homeowner scours France for these antique collectibles, which she offers for sale along with Souleiado fabrics at Country Loft Antiques -- a shop she maintains in the 1850's barn on her property.

Living Room

Lively patterns and expressive colors mix together in true Provençal style in the living room. A cozy armchair, extra-wide chaise longue with ottoman, and upholstered Louis XV sleigh bed are all decorated in a delicate floral pattern called "Madame de Maintenon." For contrast, it is paired with the "Princesse Grace" shown on the walls and drapery lining.

The oil-on-canvas panels on the 18th-century folding screen capture the bucolic charm of the Provençal countryside. For texture and harmonizing hues, toile fabrics and Aubusson petit point cushions have been added.

Fireplace Detail

The fireplace in the living room was painted to complement the rich red ground color of the "Princesse Grace" wallpaper.

Included among the mix of antiques, books, and bibelot is a French faïence bird-topped roof ornament. It perches near a Louis XV marble-topped console table. Hung above the mantel is a pair of 18th-century Strasbourg faïence plates.

Garden Room

A large early-1800's French table dominates the garden room, providing an ideal work surface for horticultural pursuits. Apothecary jars find new use as vases for fresh-cut flowers. They are available in abundant supply in the homeowner's shop.

The corner cupboard in this room is 18th-century American; the contents within include green and gold glazed confit pots. A lace window panel and delicate vine-and-rose patterned wallcovering soften the more rustic elements of the room.


Crisp blue and white patterns create a decidedly different mood in the bedroom. The homeowner mixed two Souleiado prints in the room: "La Petite Fleur des Champs" for the curtains, child's warming chair, bed skirt, and gathered panel, and "Les Vignerons" for the wall covering.

The Louis XV hand-carved headboard, which combines lemon-wood and ebony inlays, was discovered in a Breton dwelling. In addition to the Souleiado bed skirt, the bed is dressed with a 19th-century Marseilles coverlet and French pillow slips.

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