Top 7 Elements of French Country decorating

Viva la France!  The French have provided the world with so many wonderful items; things like wine, pastries, romance and an inviting design style appropriately titled French Country.

It is easy to see why this comfortable decorating style is so popular.  The combination of warm woods, cheerful colors, inviting textures and an eclectic mix of fabric patterns come together to create a room, or an entire home, that provides your family and guests with a space that says “come in and stay a while.”

Whether you are decorating a small country cottage or an elegant country manor, these 7 tips will help you achieve that very inviting and comfortable French country look.

  1. Wood tones:  The whole idea behind French country decorating is to create a space that reflects the comfort and warmth of the surrounding countryside.  The use of natural wood with its time-worn aged appearance is one way to accomplish this.  Rustic ceiling beams, time-worn wood tables and chairs and cabinetry that proudly wears a distressed finish are just a few example of how to introduce wood into the home environment.
  2. Fabrics:  One of the most identifying factors of French country decorating is the use of multiple fabric patterns.  Checks, stripes, plaid, floral and toile are mixed together with seeming abandon.  But don’t be fooled by the seemingly casual mix—a great deal of thought is given to choosing just the right combination.  The rule of thumb is to choose fabrics that share a color theme and then find one large, one medium and one small pattern and mix to your heart’s delight.  For example, a popular French country color scheme is blue and yellow.  To successfully mix patterns in these colors you might choose a bold blue and white floral pattern, pair it with a medium blue and white or blue and yellow toile and add a small blue and white gingham check.
  3. Colors:  The colors associated with French country design are taken from nature itself.  The blue of the sky and ocean, red from the clay color of the earth, green from the surrounding hillsides and yellow from the sun as well as the bountiful sunflowers that grow in the fields of Provence.  These bright and cheerful colors can be found in not only the textiles used in the space but also on painted furniture pieces, accessories and even something as simple as a bouquet of fresh flowers.
  4. Texture:  Texture is very important in French country design.  Rough plaster, natural stone, metal, distressed wood, woven rugs, fluffy trim on pillows and throws and time-worn pieces of pottery are just some of the ways texture can be introduced into the space.
  5. Nature:  As mentioned above, colors for this decorating style are borrowed from Mother Nature but nature is also introduced in the form of natural wood tones, fruit motifs and buckets of fresh flowers.
  6. Folk Art:  Fun farm animal shapes add a touch of whimsy to any décor but, in particular, to French country design.  Pink pigs, black and white cows, colorful roosters, funny geese and fluffy lambs are just a few of the animal forms that can be found in artwork, serving ware, linens and other accessories.  Other folk art pieces include figurines dressed in local garb, colorful ceramics or hand-painted and stenciled items.

These tips are meant to help you achieve the desired French country effect but one of the most important elements of this design style is the appearance of being created over time.  Therefore, you can choose to decorate a room all at once or be comfortable adding a piece here and there.  Bon chance!

One comment on “Top 7 Elements of French Country decorating

  1. Sallie Durette on said:

    Gorgeous photos and great info on decorating. Thank you!

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