The whitewash on the chair echoes the whitewashed plank flooring and along with the the aged newsprint, contrasts beautifully with the elegant Napoleon III mantel and quality Belgian linen upholstery.
Even the books on the mantel speak of contrast with some books wearing their leather covers, and others have their covers ripped off. It is contrast that gives a room it's energy.And you can achieve it in a variety of ways. In France, and in the American South, it is not uncommon to pair priceless furniture with pieces of no great value. In my entry way for example, I have a 1700s tulipwood and kingswood table with 24kt gold fired over bronze ormolu mounts. It is one of my favorite pieces. Yet it shares the entry way with a late 19th century demilune that I pulled out of a dumpster behind a row of antique shops which I spied one day while walking the dog. It sounds horrific but the two tables have always looked good together. The slight tension they create is the energy that draws you in.
I believe that this tradition of pairing the important with the unimportant arose in both France and the South due to war. The American South enjoyed prosperous times until being decimated by the Civil War. And France suffered from a Revolution and two World Wars. (I am still surprised at how many French chairs seemed to survive the war.)And while this tradition may have developed out of necessity it creates energy in a room. The trick to using contrast is that they must be different but similar. For example, different textures, but the same color, Different color, but the same size and shape. Subtle contrast is best. I often pair glass table candelabra adorned with crystal prisms, and quartz crystal geodes. And I have a 21st century chair by French designer Phillipe Stark sitting on an antique bearskin rug . The glossy chair contrasts with the shaggy rug but it works because they are the exact same shade of black.