It’s hard to believe that it’s been five whole years since Dick and Angel Strawbridge burst onto our TV screens with their iconic renovation series, Escape to the Chateau.
The show, which followed the couple as they painstakingly restored an awe-inspiring, 45-bedroom French castle, instantly captured the nation’s hearts and had us all dreaming about relocating to France, but what if we told you that you can achieve an authentic French countryside look without having to change your lifestyle?
Chateau style is a type of interior décor that aims to recreate the look and feel of an old French country castle – and the great news is that you don’t need to actually be living in an ancient French farmhouse, or even in an expensive period property, to achieve it!
To celebrate the return of Escape to the Chateau, we’ve put together a chateau style guide that tells you everything you need to know about achieving the French country look in your very own home.
Keep reading to discover our ultimate guide to chateau style, plus our top pick of the best chateau style ideas!
What is a French chateau style home?
Put simply, a chateau style home is one that echoes the elements of a traditional French chateau, which is a large French country house or castle originally built between the 13th and 14th century.
You don’t necessarily need to have a period home (or even be living in the countryside) to achieve an authentic looking, chateau style with your decor – it’s all about choosing the right shabby-chic furniture and accessories to help give your space a sense of antique, cosy character!
What are the characteristics of French chateau style?
Traditional French chateaus are famed for their elaborate architecture, featuring steeply pitched ceilings, fairy-tale-like towers and decorative carvings – particularly carvings of a quatrefoil, an ancient symbol for good luck.
Inside the home, French chateau style can be recognised by its use of grand but comfortable furniture, luxurious draping fabrics, ornate chandeliers and light-reflecting colours, like off whites and creams. You’ll often see some form of wall panelling and murals, and some French chateau-inspired houses also have some rustic looking elements too, like unpainted wooden shutters and exposed wooden flooring.
Chateau style ideas
The great thing about introducing a chateau-inspired look into your home is the fact that you can completely tailor it to your space. If you’re living in an old listed property you might want to highlight the age of the house by opting for a more rustic look, whereas those living in a new build might prefer to add character by adopting some of the more formal chateau elements, like decorative moulding and replica beams.
Whatever version you decide on, here are some elements you might want to include!
Chateau style furniture
If you’re looking to invest in one element of your French decor scheme, you really can’t go wrong with French-style chairs.
Whether you opt for a grand, deep armchair or a more relaxed rattan number, chateau chairs immediately add en element of old-world drama to a room as well as providing extra seating for quests. Try styling your chairs symmetrically for a truly authentic look.
French style beds
Although chateau style beds actually come in a number of different designs, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for if you’re hoping to achieve an authentic French look. Keep an eye out for large beds that have intricately carved wooden frames, exquisite upholstery and statement footboards. If you have the space for it, you may even want to opt for a luxurious four poster model.
When dressing your chateau inspired bed, don’t be afraid to be bold. Layer up lots of tactile textures – linen works well in the summer while velvet is great for the colder months – and be sure to add plenty of cushions on top of your pillows.
In terms pattern and colour, you can be as creative as you wish – you can opt for pastels and florals if you’re looking to achieve a more traditional look, but rich, bold Art Deco inspired colours are great if you want to ramp up the luxury feel.
Chateau style wallpaper
French interiors are famed for their beautiful, luxurious wallpapers, with damask, delicate floral and nature-inspired hand-painted papers being used from floor to ceiling to add an understated but cosy sense of character to living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and even bathrooms. If you’re looking to create an authentic chateau-inspired look, opt for damask papers, those with repeating floral or wreath patterns or hand-painted illustrations, and don’t be afraid to layer in different patterns with soft furnishings too.
If wallpaper isn’t your thing, stripped back, raw plaster walls also create a fantastic backdrop for rustic French furniture, while large-scale wall murals are great for adding a sense of quirky character.
Finish the look by layering your wallpaper or colourwashed walls with a large, woven wall hanging – antique tapestries are perfect for introducing a sense of grandeur into an unloved hallway or creating a beautiful feature wall.
No chateau-inspired room is complete without a stunning focal point, and that’s where chandeliers come in. Whether you opt for a glittering glass number, an antique metal pendant or a ‘chateau-chic’ painted version, chandeliers are great for adding a sense of splendour to a space, big or small.
Try teaming your chandelier with coordinating wall sconces and table lamps for a stylish, cohesive look, or mix and match fixtures for a more rustic, laid-back style.
When it comes to mirrors in a chateau-style theme, it’s the grander the better. Heavy, gold gilt options look stunning styled above ornate armoires and mantelpieces, but you can also style full length mirrors on the floor for a contemporary twist on the classic French style.
If gold isn’t quite your style, distressed stone effect mirrors also work particularly well in a French style room. Keep the rustic look by styling them with white painted floorboards and raw walls, or dress them up with metallic accents for a more luxe feel.
Armoires are a staple in french country decor, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re also study investment pieces that provide great storage space, especially for surplus seasonal bedding or out of season decor.
Check out our guide to Frenchic paint here to achieve a professional look, and if you’re after a more intricate project, make sure to take a look at our guide on upcycling a dresser with Annie Sloan pearlescent paint.