Imagine a quaint French country farmhouse surrounded by fields of lavender and sunflowers under the warm sunny skies of southern France. Inside you would find a cozy and welcoming atmosphere with rustic wood and wrought iron furnishings; colorful, handmade Provencal pottery; crisp, light-colored linens featuring patterns like Toile de Jouy or floral, paisley, and botanical designs. French country style is both casual and elegant, drawing inspiration from other Mediterranean decorating styles. A big advantage of this decorating style is the flexibility you will find in choosing furnishings and décor, depending on the available space you have and your budget. If you're drawn to the romance of Old World Europe or love all aspects of a vintage country cottage, French country may be the style you are looking for.
French country furniture
There are a variety of options available when choosing French country-style furniture. Choose a dining table that fits both your space and your budget. For a small dining room or kitchen, a small round pedestal table would suffice. A French provincial or trestle table would be appropriate for a larger dining room. Stepback cupboards, sideboards, buffets, and hutches commonly accompany dining tables. If your budget is tight, look for older wood furniture that is naturally distressed or worn looking. Another option is to distress or antique wood furniture with faux painting techniques such as glazing. In this way, you can create your own shabby chic furniture, which fits perfectly with a French country decorating style.
Reclaimed wood furniture will also work with this decorating style. Wrought iron furnishings such as baker's racks, hanging pot holders, and iron bed frames add a rustic yet elegant element. Slipcovered sofas, chairs, chaise lounges, and loveseats in light or neutral colors are a good choice for living room furniture.
French country colors
If you want to decorate your home with a French country color palette, you will need to select the hues found in the countryside of southern France. Pale yellow and purple are a great complementary duo and are reminiscent of the lavender and sunflower fields found in the French countryside. Earth tone colors can include the rust and terra-cotta hues found in urns, bowls, and vases made from clay pottery and the beige and cream tones of aged plaster. Different shades of green represent olive trees and green rolling hills and pale blue shades reminiscent of sunny country skies. Poppy fields provided the inspiration for bright pops of red and pink.
French country accents
You can really dial in this decorating style by adding just the right accents to your home. French country linens will brighten tables with vivid color and intricate designs and patterns. Beauville French table linens are made in the Alsatian hills in eastern France and are beautiful examples of high-quality printed textiles.
Accent a stepback cupboard or hutch with colorful, handmade, and hand-painted French pottery. Another popular and sought-after import from Provence are small ceramic French hens, which make quaint accessories on a kitchen shelf.
Roosters are a common design element in French country decorating and can be found as ceramic sculptures or on dinnerware, table linens, clocks, and other wall art.
Large metal urns, earthenware vessels, vases, and ceramic canisters all make great accessories. Hang a wrought iron pot rack with copper pots over a kitchen island. Display cooking spices and oils and fill baskets with fresh produce such as lemons or tomatoes.
Accent slipcovered furniture with decorative French pillows in floral or farm animal prints. Use decorative jugs or pitchers to display fresh cut or silk flowers. Embellish the fireplace mantel or hearth with large, elegant candle holders. Antique lanterns or oil lamps can be displayed on a coffee table, buffet, or bureau. Vintage wired birdcages or old milk jugs can be turned into decorative décor.
French farmhouses are filled with repurposed items used to display other accessories or as decorative accents themselves. A savvy French country decorator can source materials from flea markets and thrift stores and distress them into shabby chic treasures!
Michelle Radcliff has been in the home furnishings business since 2006 and has a passion for decorating and design. She is currently in the process of becoming a certified interior decorator.
- Home & Garden
- Home Decorating & Interior Design