French Country Decor: The Complete Guide

French Country Decor: The Complete Guide

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If you want to change your home's look to a more classy and refined one, French country decor might become your new favorite interior design aesthetic. This unique and charming style combines rustic elements and distressed decors with a hint of the classic French charm.

It transforms the aesthetic of your home into something more elegant, comfortable, and eye-catching, yet not too over the top. Its soft fabrics with beautiful patterns can instantly enhance the livelihood and coziness around your house.

If this seems like the type of decor you want for your home, keep reading to find out all the French country inspiration you could ever need.

Meet the Experts

At Living Cozy, we love working with interior designers and industry leaders to bring you the best possible information on all things home decor. In this article, you'll find tips and advice from the following experts:

What Is French Country Decor?

French country decor (also known as "provincial style", after the Provence region of France) is inspired by French farmhouse homes. The style has become popular due to its comfortable and casual nature.

As lead stylist and interior designer at Walker Edison Furniture, Priscilla Moiseoff, details, "It's a mix of rustic and chic. It's inspired by homes in the French countryside. I like to describe it as casual elegance."

It consists of three main hallmarks:

  1. Distressed and vintage furniture and accessories
  2. Soft-patterned fabrics in muted shades
  3. Wood, and other natural materials.

Lisa Rickert describes French country decor as a combination of "18th and 19th-century style French furnishings with more provincial elements to give spaces a relaxed, lived-in feel." She goes on to say, "French Country decor often includes worn, rustic finishes, feminine details, and a warm, neutral palette."

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French Country Decor Ideas: 5 Ways to Nail the French Country Look

If you're looking to incorporate the French country interior design style into your home, here are six ways you can do so.

1. Add French-Style Furniture

French Country-Style Furniture

Of course, the first step would be to add French-style furniture to your home. This type of furniture would typically include cabriole sofas, and dining tables and decor pieces with scalloped carving and motifs, and pieces like armoires.

Lisa Rickert details, "Louis XV style pieces are perfect for French Country interiors with their cabriole legs and delicate hand carvings. Finishes often appear well-worn, with distressed painted finishes and rustic natural woods."

2. Embrace Vintage Home Decor

If you want to bring the French country farmhouse decorating style look to your home, embrace the nostalgia and warmth of vintage, old-world decor.

"Decor typically includes a mix of vintage or antique finds, such as tin or copper kitchenware and ceramic vases,” says Lisa Rickert. “For lighting, opt for antique chandeliers or wall sconces with crystal details," she adds.

Ensure that your home remains a welcoming freshness by adding pops of color or modern elements. For example, you can fill the room with rustic charm and faded textiles, but a modern pendant light would brighten everything up.

3. Neutral Palette

French Country Bedding

"The color palette in a French Country design should be warm, light, and neutral," says Lisa Rickert. Think white, taupes, beiges, and greys. "Opt for lots of whites paired with mid-tone neutrals and the occasional red or blue accent,” adds Rickert. And if you’d like to add warmth, go with copper, red, or pink accents — these colors test fit best in  a french country kitchen or bedroom.

4. Relaxed Fabrics in Muted Colors

When choosing fabrics, look for softer patterns in muted shades. Take the advice of Lisa Rickert, who says, "Neutral cotton and linens paired with pops of buffalo check or floral patterns are perfect for a French Country space." She also recommends the addition of "ruffled details on throw pillows, seat cushions, or upholstery."

Priscilla Moiseoff agrees, saying, "Colors for this style tend to be warm with fairly low intensity. Think warm pinks, creams, baby blues, etc." On patterns, she comments that they "tend to be subtle, and one pattern can be mixed with other subtle patterns."

5. Wood and Natural Materials

French Country Sideboard

Inspired by the idyllic homes of Provence, the French country farmhouse style requires you to go all-natural when it comes to materials. This allows you to give a weathered, shabby chic country cottage appearance to your home while still maintaining a welcoming freshness. (Yes, that's possible!)

Of course, natural stone, brick, or wood floors are a must. But, most importantly, these natural materials complement the muted tones of your furniture and neutral color palette.

"This style often features exposed wooden ceiling beams; natural wood, stone, or brick floors; and a general weathered appearance throughout,” says Priscilla Moiseoff. “These same materials are often incorporated into the structure's exterior as well."

What Makes a Piece of Furniture French Country Style?

Simply put, French country-style furniture is all things comfortable and stylish. In this furniture style, you'll find that upholstered seating always comes with soft cushions. Graceful tables and chests are other main elements of French country furniture.

More importantly, the embellishments and carvings are what define French country-style furniture. Lisa Rickert explains, "When it comes to furniture, the finish is almost as important as the design. Furniture should feel more casual and rustic in appearance, with a worn wood or distressed painted finish."

"When it comes to furniture, the finish is almost as important as the design. Furniture should feel more casual and rustic in appearance, with a worn wood or distressed painted finish."

You can imitate this worn, whitewashed finish by using milk or chalk paint to distress your furniture. "Louis XV style pieces are perfect for French country homes with their cabriole legs and carved floral details – curves on furniture are preferable to straight lines," adds Rickert.

One thing that French country-style furniture lacks is a mix of dynamic, bold patterns. This ensures that it captures the viewer's attention in a muted, simplistic way. That means there's no space for clashing prints, neons, or graphic designs in a French country home.

French Country Decor Examples

Here are a few simple examples of incorporating French country decor into your bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.

French Country Bedroom

French Country Bedroom

Styling up your bedroom in French country style will give your room a soft vintage look. Start by setting your bed with lacy white layers, a toile fabric comforter, classic white curtains, and an elegant crystal chandelier.

Lisa Rickert further defined the idea of the French country bedroom and how you can incorporate chairs and nightstands in your room. She advises, "Use small Louis XV style chests as nightstands, a vintage chair in the corner, throw pillows with ruffled edges, and relaxed roman shades on the windows."

While Lisa described the incorporation of unique furniture pieces, Priscilla Moiseoff is teaching us how to choose the basics for your room: "Things that could give a bedroom a French Country feel would be: antique iron bedframes, a floral or toile patterned comforter, a soft blue or grey color palette, grey and white décor in general, and a rustic wood dresser."

French Country Living Room

French Country Living Room

The main feature you'll spot in a French country living room is that it will appear noticeably sun-kissed and breezy. You won't see any dark colors around, just some lively and milky furniture that whitewashes the room.

Lisa Rickert's advice on which colors are most suitable for your comfy living room. She says, "Pair a linen slipcovered sofa with a rustic, antique-style coffee table. Complete the look with a floral or oriental rug that brings soft greys, blues, and whites."

Priscilla Moiseoff further explains the walls and other main aspects: "Cream walls, patterned curtains, a crystal chandelier, a white or blue throw blanket with a subtle pattern, a round marble or distressed wood end table, and a glass door cabinet."

French Country Kitchen

French Country Kitchen

If you prefer comfort and uniqueness in your kitchen, a French country-style kitchen might be the perfect fit for you. Beautifully carved cabinetry, aesthetic and antique jars to display your spices and herbs, and some copper pots will stunningly get along with the theme.

"Use a hanging pot rack to display copper pots and dried flowers or herbs, and accessorize with lots of wooden utensils, cutting boards, and beautiful linens,” explains Lisa Rickert on French country kitchens.

Other key elements Pricilla Moiseoff shares include, "Checkered floor tile, fleur de Lis backsplash, a blue metal pitcher with flowers, light blue or grey cabinets and dining chairs, and exposed wood ceiling beams."

French Country Bathroom

French Country Bathroom

French country-style bathrooms have a whitewashed theme with a feminine flair, which pairs beautifully with the French country-style bedroom. Incorporate a small crystal chandelier and a mirror with a carved frame for a more aesthetic look.

Lisa Rickert guides further to make your bathroom look antique, saying, "Repurpose an antique style chest as the vanity, then hang a large Louis XV style mirror flanked with a great pair of antique sconces."

Priscilla Moiseoff, on the other hand, gives the excellent advice regarding the floor and vanity: "Brass hardware, wicker baskets, a freestanding tub, gold accents, white and black checkered tile floor, and an antique wood vanity all help to give a bathroom a French Country feel."

How to Get Started with French Country Decor

Do you want to invest in French country decor but don't know where to start? No need to worry. Priscilla Moiseoff talks us through the process.

She advises, "Get started by working on just one room at a time, and even within that room, start with one thing at a time. Pick a piece of furniture and switch it out with a piece you like in the French Country style. You don't have to overwhelm yourself. Instead, start small and work your way into a new style."

If you're curious about the right colors to choose from, take the advice of the expert Karen Billman. She says, "Start with a color, whether white/cream, green, or blue. That will dictate the direction of your accessories, furniture, and even your wood element."

Get started creating your dream home by incorporating the best of French country decor elements.

Written by
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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