French Country Decorating
French country decorating came into being during the 1600s, with Paris taking an early lead as the cultural and cosmopolitan trend setter for the rest of France, most of the great furniture over the next 200 years was produced out of this area.
Furniture makers in outlying areas, meanwhile, being unable (or unwilling) to keep pace with Paris began to splinter off from these mandated styles, creating their own look which was more suited to the rural lifestyles found in the countryside, so thus was born the Country French style.
From the 1800s on, these styles cultivated into different markets, where consumers had much different needs, different lifestyles and different societal rankings.
French country decorating, with connections tying back to the coastal Mediterranean region in southeastern France known as Provence, is characterized by a rustic and rural interior, and is often referred to as the French Provencal style.
With hardwood or terracotta tiled floors, wrought-iron fixtures, delicate fabrics and antique furniture, the French country style offers an inviting sense to the home, giving you a glimpse into the way our ancestors once lived.
Colors typically used in French country decorating are exquisitely created from floral greens, various shades of red, mustard yellows, lavender and sky blues. Cleverly thought out color schemes add dimension to the room, either making it appear larger with lighter color tones, or smaller and more intimate with darker shades.
Although lighter shades increase a room's perceived size, going pure white is considered faux pas in French design, regardless of what is being painted. Instead, consider one of the many off-white choices, such as ivory, lace, or antique white.
Colors in this theme tend to be bright, warm and casual. Furniture colors are generally more natural looking, having an unfinished or lightly stained wood tone. Softwoods are stained or dry brushed in earth tones, while walls and fabrics carry bright outdoor colors of sky blue, forest green, sunset orange and rusty red.
Paneling, exposed beams, plaster of paris walls and rusted metal fixtures provide for an aged country setting reminiscent during Old World times.
For assistance selecting your theme colors, try these free online tools, the color wheel calculator (from Sessions School of Design) and thecolor visualizer (from Sherwin Williams).
For roughly the last 300 years, French furniture and fabric design have developed into the formal and country styles, with country being described below.
With simple designs made of light and naturally finished or stained wood (such as oak or elm), furniture throughout the home in this theme has a gentle and casual feel to it. Houses with exposed wood beams and hardwood flooring have a natural symmetry with wood furniture, which works very well in this style.
Furniture such as armoires, farm tables, ladderback dining chairs, benches, chests, bookcases, cupboards and dressers in French country decor has an elegant, distressed and rustic appearance to it.
Crewelwork, which is a loosely twisted embroidery of yarn using simple stitches, is commonly used for throws and rugs in this design. Lightly colored simple linens with a sun-bleached look, either plain or with delicate or rustic floral patterns, hung on iron rods are used for window dressings or draperies within the room itself.
Plaids mixed with florals and old tapestries, brightly colored quilted blankets and antique white lace bed linens are good choices for the bedroom. You can't go wrong with checkered, striped and floral patterned motifs throughout the home in French country.
Accessories in French Country Decorating
Glazed majolica depicting fruit, vegetables and other Old World scenery on dishes, vases and planters is a very good start in this decorating theme.
The list below offers some additional suggestions specific to French country decorating. Please see the Formal French page for additional ideas in this theme.
- Copper cookware proudly hung from a ceiling mounted pot rack
- Iron or copper urns and planters
- Bronze or iron fireplace screen
- Scrolled iron or bronze toppings for doors, windows and tapestries
- Rustic and colorful Mediterranean pottery and dinnerware
- Wrought-iron framed wall mirror and wine racks
- Roosters depicted on figurines, dishes, pictures and napkins
- Lush fresh flower bouquets, dried flowers, plants and vines in glazed pottery
- Crusty breads in a large glazed bowls or baskets
- Colorful tablecloths
- Woven wicker baskets to hold magazines, fruit, or bread
- Stone fireplace with wooden beam mantel
- Other popular motifs in this theme include grapes, vineyards, lavender, olives, flowers and farm animals
Dark, swirling iron, bronze, or golden coffee-finished chandeliers and lamps will complement your French country decorating look with Old World charm. Unpolished metal chandeliers, with crystal droplets, glass, or damask shaded uplights will keep the room balanced between chic and country, while still maintaining an unvarnished rustic look.
Candelabras, wall sconces and candlesticks of twisted iron and bronze will put the finishing touches on your room, generating a whole different ambience as twilight hours descend.
See Also ...
English Country Decor
French Country Decorating, Interior Design and Accessories