French Country Interior Design Characteristics: How to Get the Look

French country interior design emulates the look of French countryside homes, combining rustic and vintage pieces with elegant decor.

If you want the casual sophistication of a French country interior, here’s how to get the look and the history of this design style.

The History of French Country Interior Design

French Country Dining Room

French country design dates back to 17th century France. At the time, the Baroque style architecture was prominent in urban areas and among wealthy residents. The furniture of this period was large and ornate with embellishments and geometric motifs. Residents in the rural French countryside simplified the pieces and used them in their homes.

It wasn’t until the 18th century, when the Rococo style was popular, that French countryside furniture took on an even more relaxed feel. Simplified versions of Rocco furniture were abundant in rural areas, featuring pastel colors, streamlined shapes, and curved lines. The same styles of furniture are prominent in French country interior design today.

French countryside design has evolved to a soft style featuring rustic pieces, light colors, a mix of wood tones, and elegant light fixtures. While in France, the style is referred to as “farmhouse,” in the United States, French countryside design refers to capturing old-world French charm.

French Country vs. American Country and Farmhouse Designs

French country, American country, and farmhouse style all favor the use of natural and rustic materials, patterns, and neutral colors. But, of the three, French Country is the easiest to differentiate because of its use of French-style furniture, chandeliers, and elegant decor. American country design and farmhouse style are more casual and feature oversized furniture with a focus on comfort.

How to Make Your House Look French Country

Here are the top French country interior design characteristics to get the look.

Opt for Muted Colors

The French country interior design color palette is soft and muted. Rather than a bright white on the wall, opt for a cream color. Use accents of pastel pink, pastel blue, and muted tones of green, yellow, and orange.

Choose French Antique-Style Furniture

Antique-style French furniture is dominant in this design scheme. But don’t worry, if you can’t find authentic antique pieces opt for reproductions, which are easy to find. Look for Louis armchairs, tufted sofas, settees, rolled arm furniture, and wooden pedestal tables.

You can also look for pieces that feature linen or burlap upholstery and aged or distressed wood. Pick furniture in soft colors to go with the French-style color palette.

Add Elegance Through Your Light Fixture

Most French-style rooms weave in elegance through lighting. Optimal choices include candelabra chandeliers, crystal chandeliers, and glass pendants with gold or distressed metal accents. You can also bring in elegance through table lamps that feature linen shades and distressed bases.

Accent with a Mix of Wood Pieces

Wood pieces are a staple in French country design. Your primary focus should be on painted but distressed pieces and natural wood furniture. Add wood through your dining table, flooring, hutches, dressers, and coffee tables.

Use the Right Patterns and Fabrics

Fabrics like linen, burlap, and toile de jouy are staples of French countryside design. The best patterns include florals, stripes, damask, and fabrics with French writing. You can incorporate these patterns through your curtains, throw pillows, blankets, and table clothes.

Bring in French Country Decor

Decor pieces are a great way to bring elegance to your design. Some of the most popular french country decor items include:

  • Candlesticks
  • Candelabras
  • Ornate mirrors
  • Vases of fresh flowers
  • Clocks
  • Sculptures
  • Ornate coffee table trays

Roosters are also common in French country interior design because they play a prominent role in countryside life, acting as an alarm clock for farmers. While you don’t have to hang colorful pictures of roosters in your home, consider a throw pillow or antique-look rooster plaque.

Examples of French Country Interior Design

If you want to make your home look French country style, here are some examples to draw inspiration from.

French Country Living Room Example

French Country Interior Design Characteristics
Katie Scott Design

The designers of this French country living room stuck with a cream color for the furniture, mantel, and walls. They accented with a distressed wood mirror and layered in elegance through the candlesticks and chandelier.

Pink French Country Bedroom

Fench country pink bedroom decor
Sasha Bikoff

Even though this room is pink, it’s elegant rather than childlike. The different pink fabrics add texture to the room, while the settee, nightstand, and gold frames add a sophisticated touch.

French Country Kitchen

French country kitchen area
AFT Construction

Many French country kitchens feature cream-colored cabinets. In this kitchen, the wood-topped island helps break up the white, and the herringbone floors add modernity. The french-style bar stools help set the tone.

French Country Dining Room

French Country Dining Room
Higgins Architects

The wooden ceiling and distressed hutch give this room a casual feel, while the chandelier adds drama. The designers chose an off-white wall color, a dark wood table, and a cream-colored bench to create a rustic but upgraded style.