If you want to put a touch of je ne sais quoi into your home then why not consider the French country style of interior design. The French country style has become one of the most popular styles throughout the world and conjures up images of warm Mediterranean sunshine, sandy beaches, beautiful purple lavender fields, winding country lanes, scenic villages peppered about the countryside, flea markets, and of course the sheer charm and elegance of the cottages and farmhouses not to mention the people themselves. The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Provence to bring a touch of rural France back into your home.
If you are stuck for ideas or inspiration you can start by browsing through magazines or do a search on the internet to get an idea of what elements go to make up the French country style.
Of course you can always employ a professional interior designer to do the job for you but it helps if you know what you want to start with. Although the French style can vary significantly from area to area, to most people, it’s the area known as Provence in the South of France that seems to spring to mind when thinking about French country style.
The lifestyle in Provence tends to be more casual and so the look matches this which is invariably welcoming, warm, and decidedly unfussy. Think about brightly coloured wooden shutters to keep out the blazing midday sun on windows which are often narrow and deep set.
The furniture tends to be rustic with a worn lived in and comfortable look. Imagine copper pots strategically placed next to old stone fireplaces, or the dark wooden beams contrasted against the paler rough plastered walls. The scope is endless so there is plenty of variety to cater for any taste. The following ideas may help to inspire your own interpretation of French country style.
Colours that fit in with the French country style include warmer shades of bronze, gold, yellow and rust to match the hot Mediterranean climate as well as the cooler ocean colours in different shades of blues and greens, however, bright and vibrant colours do not go amiss either such as strong purple, bright red, and shocking pink. It is the way they are combined that helps to create the final look.
Fabrics and other materials
Probably the most popular fabric associated with the French country style is toile. Toile is generally a repeated pattern on a fabric with a pale background. It literally translates to cloth. However, fabrics in different textures, colours and prints go well and you can include anything from plain cloths to stripes and floral prints to fabrics depicting motifs.
Motifs can be found not only on fabrics but also on wall coverings, paintings and ornamental and practical pieces in the home too. Popular motifs include roosters, grapes, lavender, and insects such as bees and the famous Cigale, whose song can be heard throughout the summer in Provence.
Use natural materials as far as possible and consider stone floors and walls, untreated wood, plastered walls that are not perfectly smooth, ceramic tiles, clay, brick, and metals such as copper and wrought iron. The key is to go for the old, the natural and the lived in look.
The furniture has a definite rustic look to it, often in darker woods. Don’t forget to include the Amoire, a tallish cabinet with drawers, shelves or cupboards used for storage or for decorative purposes. For example, you can use it to display pots, for hiding the television or storing linen and other items. Use your imagination, it is an extremely useful piece of furniture and helps to convey that authentic French look in your home.
Flowers are essential for capturing that southern French look in your home. Hanging baskets on patios and balconies, window boxes, pitchers, pots or vases of flowers inside and outside the house help to create that distinctive French atmosphere. Of course any blooms will suffice but lavender is abundant in the south of France and as it is so deliciously fragrant, make use of potpourri, sachets of lavender and bunches of lavender to give your home that final ooh la la.