cover image The New French Look

The New French Look

Lauren Li. Thames & Hudson, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-1-76076-394-7

“The New French look is spirited and fresh, layered but never fussy, effortless yet always chic,” according to this stylish debut. Li, founding director of the Sisällä interior design studio in Melbourne, Australia, explores the decorating techniques employed in homes “across four regions of France—City, Beach, Country and Mountains.” She suggests that neutral-colored furniture (“tan leather, cream linen upholstery”) creates a sense of serenity in beach houses, while city residences use bolder patterned drapery and floors to “add vibrancy.” Resource guides detail items that make a space feel French “without employing kitsch,” recommending “soft and feathery” sofas to evoke the feel of a rustic, countryside living room and “a provincial milking stool” used as a side table for a mountain cabin vibe. Extensive photographs illustrate the advice in action. For instance, Li entreats readers to contrast old design features with contemporary furnishings and shows how one abode juxtaposed “gnarly old” ceiling beams with the “clean lines” of modern shelving and cabinets. Throughout, she encourages adapting French design principles instead of baldly mimicking them, noting that readers in modern homes would be better off using contemporary wall paneling instead of trying to replicate the 1850s paneling found in some of the city apartments pictured. Li provides tasteful rules of thumb, and her perceptive survey sheds light on the key tenets of modern French style. Readers will be taken with this. (Feb.)