Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Paris. The entire experience was so far removed from my everyday life, I loved every moment of it. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Palace of Versailles. We had a tour guide who informed us, that if you are wondering if something in Paris is real gold, and you cannot reach it to touch it, it is real gold. I don't believe this rule even applies in Versailles. Everything is gold and pure opulence. It's easy to see how the French Revolution came about with such a vast divide between the classes.
For those thinking of redecorating, with an unlimited budget and a penchant for French Baroque Architecture, please see below my top tips for decorating with the flair of King Louis XIV of France.
1. If you have the space, put in your own chapel. Practicing a religious life, or at least the appearance of such, is quite important if you are looking to impress people. Of course, the more ornate the better. Extra points for a full pipe organ decorated with (you guessed it) gold.
2. Excessive use of gold and marble is a must. If possible, seventeen mirror clad arches directly across from seventeen arched windows with views to the gardens for maximum impact. Gold statues holding chandeliers should be individually crafted and each unique. Crystal chandeliers are the only acceptable light fixture for this genre, the more the better.
3. It is important to have views of your own home, from within your own home. This being the only way to properly admire the grandeur of your lifestyle. You could have your children inhabit a different wing of the palace than you (obviously). It is however, important, that as the head of the household you inhabit the centre portion of the palace to remind everyone that the world revolves around you. Don't worry, you can wave to your family through the window if you are too tired to visit their wing. It's really very convenient!
4. The bedroom should be lavish and the bed should be short. If you really are wanting the lifestyle of Louis XIV, you must sleep sitting up, so a full size bed is not required. Sleeping in a semi upright position is better for indigestion, illness, and not perishing in your sleep; although Louis XIV did perish in his sleep, so the effectiveness of this sleeping arrangement has not been proven. Bedrooms should be large, as they are the ideal place to greet guests (apparently). Have benches for at least 9 bodyguards to rest in your room at all times. Living with all this gold is not necessarily safe, and your family will be sleeping very far away from you in their own wings. Maybe send them some bodyguards as well. Sharing is caring.
5. Do not neglect to decorate the doors. Every surface of your home has the potential for greatness. The obvious decoration of choice is intricate gold embellishment. As always, do not hold back.
6. Do not neglect ceilings. This is where you can shine! When you have filled up your walls with beautiful artwork, it is time to fresco the ceilings. Make sure to continue the intricate gold embellishment to remain on theme. Hire only the best artists. Pay them far less than they are worth.
7. Represent your own likeness at every opportunity. Statues, busts, and paintings featuring beautified versions of yourself should be placed strategically throughout your home. Ideally, everywhere you turn, there should be an example of what a fine human specimen you are. Pro tip, use the same artists that you are already exploiting to paint your ceilings. They will be grateful for the exposure, really.
8. Use models and keep gifts that you planned on giving as necessary. Hyacinthe Rigaud was commissioned to paint this portrait of the Louis XIV as a gift for his grandson, the soon to be King of Spain. It is rumoured that Louis had a younger model pose for his striking legs and it is confirmed that Louis enjoyed the painting of himself so much, that he kept it.
9. Match your fabric on your (short) bed to your curtains and to your walls, but never to your rug. You would't want to overdo it. The Princess rooms under King Louis XVI were an exercise in restraint.
10. Create the largest gardens possible to surround your home. Ideally, it should take weeks to visit all corners of your land. Cultivate as much as imaginable. Fountains and water features should be used abundantly. Keep with your Baroque gold theme.
I guarantee that if you follow these tips everyone will be talking about you. Maximalism is not for all. It takes commitment... and a ridiculous amount of money.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Versailles, I highly recommend it. Book a tour, pay to skip the lines, and arrive early, these are my tips for an enjoyable time at the palace. Bring a friend who keeps Clif Bars in her purse for paramount enjoyment. It takes hours to explore Versailles and you will get hungry.
If you are really lucky, your tour guide will snap your picture in the Hall of Mirrors whilst surrounded by Japanese students. Living the dream.