The Worst French Provincial Furniture You Can Buy



What was I thinking with these handles!  YUCK!  This is one of my chests.

Over the years of finding and restoring french provincial furniture I have come to know the quality french pieces and the ones to avoid. I hope to point you in the right direction when considering a french provincial piece for your home.

French provincial furniture is a style that can easily be painted a variety of styles without looking out-of-place or obviously painted. Many classic french furniture dating back to the 1700's have been painted, so french reproduction furniture is the perfect choice if you are considering making over a chest using bright or conservative colors.

There were many furniture manufactures who produced high quality lines of furniture, and there were also companies who offered the same look but with lower quality materials. Every company carried a number of lines, and still maintained the same level of quality as their higher end lines. You will find that with Drexel, Union and Thomasville french provincial furniture. They both carried a number of different styles, most of high quality made from solid wood.

The vintage children's french provincial furniture is often featured in white and gold, with melamine tops, and baked on white paint.  Depending on what you are after, we always recommend looking for the provincial sets made out of solid wood.   Even if you decide to paint them, the higher quality dressers are not plastic and they last longer, because of the quality of wood and materials used.

There is nothing wrong with the classic white and gold french provincial furniture.  Many of the sets are high quality wood under the paint, and are outstanding examples of reproduction french furniture.

Below I would like to show you out of my own experience a line to avoid.  I honestly do not know the name, but they can be found everywhere.  If you have the choice to buy this set or wait for a better set, I would recommend waiting.    Below I explain the two areas of disappointment with this line.

Granted, this dresser looks pretty in white than the manufacture finish, but here are some issues with the quality of the dresser you should know about.

1.   If you have ever shopped at Ikea, you know how poorly pressed wood looks.   Bump pressed wood the wrong way and it is ruined.  The same goes with this dresser, much of the dresser is cheap pressed wood, and plastic.  I didn't really realized how plastic this dresser was until I painted one for myself.  (See the red dresser)  The feet come off, and if you look closely at the french feet there is a line that appears down the center of the foot that even when painted, it looks plastic.

2.  This dresser comes with plastic architectural elements.  Perhaps to some people, it is ok, but it is just gives it a  low quality appearance.  If you do have this dresser, I would highly recommend you take off the plastic elements and use wood filler to fill in the holes.  Circled in diagram 3 is another cheap design in plastic.   There is nothing seamless about this dresser.

If this dresser does the trick for your re-purposing project, by all means, go for it.  I bought two vintage toy boxes in this style and made them over.  While it isn't the highest quality, sometimes if the design works, it works....!

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  • Kelly

    Thanks for your post.
    I was wondering if the line of Dixie/Lexington French Provincial Falls within this “worst” category?

  • Admin

    I have sold lots of Dixie furniture. I would say it is pretty good quality. Every line is different. I suppose it depends on what you are hoping to do with the set.

  • Rachel

    I have 2 Dixie tables that I would like to paint and use as nightstands. How can I get rid of Laminate top? Can it just be painted over? Thank You!

  • Admin

    Hi Rachel,

    I found if you sand the top of the laminate, and then apply an oil based primer, you will be good to paint over the laminate. One brand I have had success with is “Cover stain”

  • Tami

    Hi! Can you possibly tell me around what year these types of pieces where reproduced? Specifically the top two cream and gold dressers. I’m trying to figure out if they contain lead paint before I attempt a redo 😉 thanks!

  • Admin

    Most of the vintage French Provincial dressers were produced in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. You can buy lead paint kits on amazon. A good primer such as Cover stain in oil will allow you to paint over these dressers with ease. In additon, you could also strip the paint to expose the natural wood underneath of the paint.

  • Madison Moore

    My dresser has the laminate top but I want to do a wood top when I redo it. What are your suggestions for doing so? Is there an easy way to get rid of the laminate top?