While the jury is still out on the French being the best lovers, anyone who has travelled or lived in France will vouch for the undisputed fact that when it comes to bistro design, the French do it best! Maybe it has those gorgeous, geometric black and white checked tile floors, or perhaps the owners have opted for reclaimed or original wooden floors that could tell you stories you wouldn’t believe if their language extended beyond the odd, gratifying creak. You can be sure that there are some impossibly cool lighting solutions that look like they’ve always been there. The countertop around the bar area is beautifully polished, perhaps in bespoke zinc that looks antique – only the owner aware that it’s a modern, yet shabby chic addition. But what other secrets are there to achieving that indescribably Gallic feel for your room?
French bistro tables
It’s not only the bar countertop that can benefit from a custom zinc makeover. There are some stunning table covering ideas around. Whether you have square tables or more classic round tables, both can benefit from custom zinc tops. Perhaps a polished, beaten and bronzed affair would round off the look of your room nicely or maybe you’d prefer to give your homely, farmhouse room a bit of steampunk flair with a starker look. The options are endless. You can of course opt for the more classic marble look and nobody could possibly dispute this when it comes to the authenticity stakes. Both are very low maintenance and easy to keep clean and looking fresh.
The walls can talk
One of the first things you notice when you walk into a room are the walls. Are there any pictures, what colour are they painted, are there any original features? All will have gone through your mind from time to time. When it comes to achieving a great French bistro look, you can go for some areas with exposed brickwork – that is always a winning idea – and perhaps a safe option. The more adventurous might like to complement their steampunk effect tables with an industrial look, via some distressed wallpaper, which can be incredibly effective and striking. You might like to have a mural on one wall. Murals offer an excellent opportunity to inject a bit of personality and if you like some well-placed humour into your room. Think of it as a way to reflect your brand identity or personality.
Repurposing objects / upcycling
I think one of the things that attracts us to the French bistro approach is the admiration we have for their keen use of upcycling. You could see ladders repurposed as bookshelves, or golden syrup tins used as flower pots. I’ve seen old bicycles with sinks on wooden slabs on top of them in the bathroom of a French café and there are some truly incredible lighting and lamp ideas out there, that make use of upcycled objects and piping. With a modicum of inspiration and a bit of DIY flair you can go solo on this one, or have a good browse on the likes of Etsy for those keen upcyclers selling their wares.
Furnish it right
The discontented man finds no easy chair (Benjamin Franklin).
Nobody wants a discontented man or woman in their bistro or party, but luckily even the most discontented of folk should be able to sit comfortably in a high backed chair, whether wooden or bamboo finished aluminium – and if not then the beauty of your room after following some of these tips should provide some solace! In seriousness, the effect of having high quality chairs – preferably all the same – in your bistro cannot be underestimated.