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Le salon par excellence is indeed a work of art, inspired by France's storied culture and splendid architecture. Most often, however, tangible links to caring ancestors who lived centuries apart make the most abiding impression.
Unlike family cast offs that dwell in American homes only until we can afford to replace and forget them, the French treat long adored furnishings as pieces of history fit to reign forever in the most coveted spots.
But then, who could begrudge a regal armoire, the celebrated source of Gallic pride, the opportunity to pay homage to France with its magnificence? Built in the thirteenth-century for storing armor, the armoire has risen to iconic status since becoming emblematic of French country life.
Variations abound, though some stand apart. Most prized of all are those with deep carving, shaped tops, and the patina of age - the distinctive luster resulting from centuries of exposure to heat, humidity, and light, to say nothing of oil from loving hands. Yet, even an armoire that might not ordinarily merit a second look can lend a bit of grandeur when privy to an astonishing pedigree, or interesting gossip.
No matter that it inevitably overshadows other elements in the room.