Furnishing and decorating your French home

Looking at the best and cheapest ways of furnishing and decorating your new home in France

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Once you have signed on the dotted line and have the keys to your new French home, you will undoubtedly feel a surge of excitement at the thought of making your home into exactly the sort of place you have always dreamed of.  Furnishing and decorating your French home can be great fun, and the most important thing to realise is that nothing is necessarily right or wrong, it is simply a question of what you like and don’t like, a question of personal taste.  Make it easy on yourself at the start and as long as you have the basics, i.e. a bed, a kettle and a chair or two, take time to think about the look you want to achieve.
 
Doubtless you will have items that you wish to bring with you from the UK, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, now is a good time to have a clear out, and if you are moving to France lock, stock and barrel, be ruthless with your possessions. Consider that some things which looked great in your UK home may not suit your new French one.  For example, if you are moving from a modern house or flat to a country home in rural France, you may want to get a feel for your new surroundings, see how other French homes are furnished and what is available locally in France.
 
"Consider that some things which looked great in your UK home may not suit your new French one."
 
There are plenty of large superstores and outlet stores selling all manner of furniture in France.  A good way to start thinking about kitting out your new home is to decide what you simply cannot do without, whether it is a comfortable bed or sofa or any sentimental items.  If you are going to be hiring a removal van or driving one down yourself, make a list of the items you wish to take to start you off but don’t feel that you have to take everything but – or including – the kitchen sink.  Think about the cost of removals, and weigh this up against the cost of buying new furniture once you are settled in your French home.
 
We have taken advantage of local “vide greniers” and “brocantes” – car boot sales and second hand sales – to buy various articles, including some wonderful lamps and decorative objects. When it comes to electrical goods, there is nothing to stop you bringing these down with you; you simply need to kit yourself out with adaptor plugs or be willing and able to change the English plugs to French ones. 
 
"At a vide greniers in France, you will be able to get your hands on to some great bargains."
 
Furniture is probably roughly on a par with the UK, pricewise but items such as electrical goods and accessories, and also (weirdly) paint, can be more expensive - so if you have an account with an English firm who ships to France, make full use of it!
 
If you are a fan of IKEA, you will not be disappointed coming to France. There are plenty of IKEA shops dotted all over the country and make no mistake, their kitchen units and even appliances are first class. It could well be cheaper – and more enjoyable – to buy such items once you are here in France than to bring with you old items which may not sit quite as happily in your new environment.
Materials such as marble and granite are quite commonly found in French country homes and here’s a tip: there are plenty of outlets on the edges of towns selling marble and granite, often for funeral parlours I have to say, but they will happily provide you with marble for bathrooms, granite for kitchen worktops and the like, and prices are competitive.  When it comes to floor coverings, remember that carpets are not nearly as common in France and as a result of this there is a great choice of tiling and wood to suit every budget.  
 
There is a great site called “Le Bon Coin” which is a little like eBay, where you can source all manner of furnishings including tiles, wood etc. 
 
"Remember that old adage that you should never own anything which is not either useful or beautiful."
 
Regarding paint, there are now a few sites selling English paint to French homeowners, and we would advise this as the best way of not only obtaining quality paint, but also a way of ensuring you achieve it at a cheaper price than in France. 
 
Every newsagent in France is stocked with some super home furnishing and decorating magazines. Take a browse through for ideas. So many homes in France are very old indeed and benefit from subtle paint colours and treatments. Remember that the older the house, the higher the ceiling is likely to be also which means you can really go to town if you prefer stronger colours.
 
Remember that old adage that you should never own anything which is not either useful or beautiful, and you will find that furnishing your French home will be a great joy. With a few items from your old home in the UK in their place, get out and explore your new French village or town, and you will gradually get a feel for how you want to furnish your new home.  Living here for a little while first is always a good idea, and enables you to get a real feel for how it should look.  It can be fun and exciting, so remember to keep an open mind and shop around once you are in France.

Further reading for Living In France

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