When you think of a French countryside, whether you’ve ever been or not, you likely envision something like a weathered barn amidst lavender fields and cheerful sunshine. French country style is an enviable blend of elegance and humble simplicity. It’s given credibility by its old-world aesthetic, strengthened by the stability and presence of rustic finishes, and timelessly appealing with refined curves and details.
Because of its inherent contrasts and its warmth and casual elegance, French country style works as well in ancient chateaux as in country cottages and elegant manors built today. Not many people can resist a style that is so rich with ornate details but that is as un-intimidating as a woodside cottage. Read on to discover some ideas for incorporating the style into your own space.
Some of the inherent charm in French country décor comes from the mix of prints and patterns in textiles. The combinations needn’t be blatantly or boldly different from each other to be harmonious, though. Think of pairing toile with gingham, stripes with floral. The key is to coordinate color schemes within the patterns.
Blend of Rustic and Refined Pieces.
In French country style, the contrast between details that lean toward the ornate, intricate, and elegant and details that are rough, rustic, and raw is a big part of the style’s charm. Don’t shy away from including an elegant fabric in a space that bears chunky, knobby wood. Show off the scuffs and dings and chippiness of once-elegant furniture. Pair outdoor elements, like lantern-style pendants, in crisp indoor spaces.
Friendly, Understated Elegance.
Although the pieces themselves tend to have elegant details, the overall look of French country is more cottage-y than European-chic. Dining tables in French country kitchens tend to be large, simply shaped, and matte (dull wax or low-sheen finishes), while accompanying chairs carry the stylistic curves and carvings.
Ladderback dining chairs are common in French country kitchens. Colors are usually more on the “sweet” side of things – light, natural seating houses colorful Provencal print fabrics. Be sure to add depth to any space with a variety of textures, including but not limited to woven baskets, wire baskets, ceramics, wood carvings, and pottery.
Patina & Natural Materials.
It’s not uncommon to see well-worn pieces within French country style. Rusted metal furniture, historically scuffed lighting, and paint-chipped pieces provide visual interest and texture, warmth to the space, and a charmingly lived-in feel.
Humble simplicity exudes from French country plaster walls, chunky ceiling beams, carefully carved wood, and woven textures. Floors of stone, brick, or hardwood are dignified and classic. The patina of life well lived is apparent in details throughout a charming, warm French country space.
It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – one way to really bring the French country style home is to incorporate antique French furniture pieces into the space, even if it seems not to be meant for such a piece. Placing a French chest of drawers in the bathroom, as you see in this photo, is a perfect example. Paired with other feminine touches (floral drapes and wallpaper, scalloped mirror edges, silk shaded sconces), this French piece provides warmth and classic country style.
Choose items that reflect the Provencal countryside to carry your aesthetic through. Country-friendly themes such as roosters, toile, olives, sunflowers, grapes, and lavender are lovely components to add to any French country styled space.