When you think of Provence and the French countryside what do you see? I see lavender fields and bright sunshine. French Country style springs from the gentle hills and valleys of rural France. While there are many elements that contribute to the French Country style of decorating, the resulting look is always rustic, old-world, and welcoming. The look fits well into both country houses and elegant, old chateaux. I like to think of it as a look where the past flourishes in the present. See HERE for a look at a beautiful restored 18th Century home in Provence.
French Country style is about a way of life: simple, serene, and welcoming, yet effortlessly elegant. If you have a deep love and respect for time honored traditions and craftsmanship, a love of the countryside and its natural materials, re-inventing instead of discarding, and a taste for sophisticated simplicity, then French Country style may be for you. Let's take a tour through this French Country style home:
Details vary, but French-inspired homes are distinguished by these distinctive accents:
arched doorways, multi-paned windows, balanced symmetrical proportions, brick, stone or stucco exterior, steep roofs, tall second-story arched dormers, and porches with substantial balustrades.
French Country style has a warm, comfortable feel achieved through color, woods, and curves. I love the look of the barrel ceiling above. It further accentuates the arched French doors. The colors used in this home are on the warm side of the color wheel with a medium to low intensity. When you're choosing colors, whether they're bright, deep or pastel, French Country colors have a gentleness about them that translates to instant comfort. Colors are pulled directly from the landscape: dusty sages and lavenders, sunny yellows and sky blues, peony pinks and brick reds. Think sunny!
Flowers are a staple in French Country style. For an ideal accessory, print paper covered with a French theme and cover old books.
Wrought iron or rusted metal accents are essential to this style. An old iron gate would look beautiful used as a headboard. Isn't this curved staircase and banister beautiful!
The furnishings should have graceful and simple lines. French Country features lots of painted furniture. Buying older distressed furniture would be a perfect fit for this style. Fabrics in this style are wide-ranging, but toile is a very traditional fabric for this look. You can partner toile with stripes, plaids, or solids - anything goes!
In the living room, windows in French Country rooms shouldn't be weighted down by heavy drapes. Instead, add lacy panels to let the sun shine in while still providing privacy, or silk drapery would be beautiful. An idea for the front of a window, try using a wrought iron garden bench with pillows for the look of a window seat.
Notice the herringbone floor?! For the floors, slate and limestone, natural wood and tumble earthen tile all strike the right notes. French doors, stone mantel, beamed ceiling are elements of this style, while candles make a stylish accessory. I love the collection of silver on the table.
Rarely will accessories in a French Country room be purely decorative. They usually have an undertone of usefulness, such as wall-hung plates that can be pulled down for service, jugs and jars that house kitchen staples, baskets that corral plump produce from the garden. Open shelving is a natural partner for this look - everyday items enjoy pride of place rather than languishing behind cabinet doors.
A few ideas for a French Country kitchen include using lots of jars for holding food staples. Find old covered jars at thrift shops or garage sales. Add hand painted labels or print them on your home printer. Use old quaint street or grocery signs for wall decor. Kitchens are simple -- these distressed painted wicker chairs look beautiful in this kitchen.
Display your French stoneware on open shelves, as part of the overall look.
The basket on the dinette doubles as a useful accessory for storing delicious fruit, or toting flowers from the garden.
French linens or toile work perfectly for the bedroom. It's never about big, nor impressive, rather living simply and elegantly. Bedrooms are comfortable and welcoming.
Every room in this house is simple and serene, yet elegant and graceful.
So what do you think? Is French Country style the way of life for you?
Remember, think wrought iron, toile fabrics, plaster walls, roughened wood, images of roosters or other farm life, and natural stone as a few of the staples. What does French Country mean to you?