Alyssa, by Ashley Furniture

This pretty dining room furniture (Alyssa, by Ashley Furniture) makes a nice choice for a small dining room or even a dressy kitchen. Its design also offers some clues to guide color and accessory choices.

Our first home decorating clue is all the curve on this dining table and chairs! Curves are especially French, and there are plenty of them here!

dining chair can help set the entire home decorating direction for a room, and the Alyssa chair is no exception.

The metal legs are modeled after the French cabriole leg – that S-shaped French leg that always suggests a refined, elegant and slightly dressy room.

The shiny damask fabric on the chair seat has inspired many dressy dining room tablecloths and linens… and French ones in particular! Damask is typically paired up with the fancy glassware and the good china, so that’s an important clue too.

Then there’s all that scrolling metal.  You can almost pick out a fleur de lys pattern in the chair back….that popular French design of a lily that’s inspired many a formal, French pattern over the years.

The round metal ring above the fancy wood base on the dining table sort of resembles a corona, or the base of a crown and the braided edge of the table resembles the edge of a pie or braided French bread.

With all the fancy details on this dining room, a French-inspired decor seems to be in order! Here are two schemes… one that’s a little on the formal side… one that’s just fun.

First, a very classic, very dressy French option.

The interior paint colors here are delicate and muted… dusty rose, coral and champagne tones. Artwork and accents look suitably French – but that doesn’t have to mean ornate curves, scroll or flowers are a pretty good bet. The chandelier on the right is elegant with all those French-looking crystals, but notice it’s also long and narrow rather than wide  – that’s to keep it in scale with the smaller table. The single bowl-shaped pendant on the left is a more current choice. It picks up on the scrolled metal, but it’s simpler against all the curves in the  furniture.  Dressy fabrics are in order here – for windows and walls, use simple sheers, a delicate stripe or even a damask pattern that’s lighter or darker than the chair seat. For an elegant, no-fail French effect, run curtains from the floor right to the ceiling.

 A second option is more casual, but equally French.

The paint colors here are natural and organic…. muted greens and yellows that remind us of chardonnay wine and olives.  Artwork could include scenes of the Paris streets – casual shots of store windows, bistro cafes or even French people.  Drawings of French food or wine bottles are good choices… so are French words included on the art. Not to worry if you can’t pronounce them – they just need to add a little French culture and sophistication! Clocks also make a nice accent – especially ones that looks like they might belong in a Paris train station – large, with an antique face and curved numbers. To keep that Paris neighborhood feeling going, use a French lantern rather than a chandelier. Fabrics can be more informal, but still with a bit of a sheen. Draperies could cover the entire window… or just the lower half if you’re up for the French café curtain look.

To see interior paint color numbers (Behr), click on the photo to enlarge it. For more home decor ideas, visit To receive our free room design magazine, sign up here.