Understanding French Country Decor

Posted In Design - 10/16/2019

Decorating a French Country Home

If you prefer a cozy look with a touch of elegance, consider French country decor. Homes in this style mix the opulence of traditional French design with natural elements, a subdued color palette, and airy fabrics to create a graceful yet lived-in appearance. Clean lines and plush furnishings combine to make these spaces warm and appealing.

What Is French Country Design?

French country style exudes feminine charm and European sophistication. Inspired by the modest farmhouses and stately chateaux of rural Provence, these tranquil interiors are a perfect mix of refined and rustic peppered with a dash of the shabby chic. Rooms emphasize botanical themes, decorative flourishes, and natural materials.

Materials and Finishes

Exposed beam ceilings, antique wood flooring, and textured plaster walls are the ideal canvas for this style. Still, you can capture the essence of a French country home in any space. Perfectly imperfect is the goal, so whitewashed wood, weathered stone, woven linen, and wrought iron can give even newer rooms an Old World allure.

When shopping for French country furniture, considering finishes is important. Distressed, low-sheen wood and textured fabric create a homey, humble look to contrast the graceful design of French furniture.

Colors and Prints

French country decor relies on a mostly neutrals for its airy feel. Choose larger pieces like sofas and settees in white, beige, or even pale pastels to make rooms seem bright and spacious. Brown wood end tables or shelves add some variety to your color scheme.

With this neutral background, accents in French country homes can include almost any hue. Warm yellows, golds, and reds, as well as muted greens, blues, and lavenders, fit in with this style. While darker shades are less common, a black hall table or navy accent chair may offer just the depth your decor needs.

Patterns are another way to bring color and dimension to your room. Ginghams, plaids, checks, and stripes are all popular, but toile fabrics define French country design. This quaint print features repeating pastoral scenes in fine detail. Introduce a little toile using pillows and curtains, or go all out with a full set of printed bedding.


The key to French country furniture is a sense of lived-in history. Antiques lend a vintage touch to your space, though new items in a traditional style can have a similar effect. Wingback armchairs, wrought iron daybeds, and weathered console tables have an heirloom quality that gives every piece a story to tell.

Although meant to evoke a rustic setting, this furniture is far from scruffy. Carved details and gentle curves bring a hint of opulence to a homespun atmosphere. Turned legs, tufted upholstery, and intricate molding are some of the details that elevate this look. Louis XVI chairs, with their oval backs and plush seats, are a prime example of the embellishments common in French country design.

French Country Room by Room

Although this style projects effortless charm, decorating a French country house starts with careful planning. Each component should communicate ease and timelessness. Starting with white walls will open up the room and provide a nice backdrop for color, pattern, and texture in your furniture and accessories.

Outfitting a Kitchen

When setting up a French country kitchen, build around a focal point such as a rectangular farmhouse table. Pair it with upholstered benches or classic ladder-back chairs to promote a casual, country ambiance. For smaller areas, a round wire bistro set saves space but still offers a distinctly French feel.

To achieve a sense of harmony, offset breezy elements with more substantial pieces. A linen tablecloth topped with heavy pottery is a good example. Use glass jars to hold silverware and pantry goods. Wrought iron items such as pot hangers or candle holders lend cheerful country kitchens a bit of elegance.

Decorating a Living Room

A stone fireplace is often at the heart of a French country living room. Arrange seating around the hearth for a warm, inviting layout. Homes without a fireplace may choose to circle chairs and sofas around a tufted coffee table instead. Light-hued seating featuring turned legs brings a hint of sophistication to the space and balances any rough, rugged materials or finishes.

Designing French Country Bedrooms

In a French country bedroom, furniture plays an important role. Select poster or canopy beds for their grand silhouettes or opt for painted, distressed metal frames. Armoires incorporate vintage style and are practical for storing clothes, bedding, and bath linens.

Supply coziness and a personal touch with a generous amount of accessories. Use cream sheets, frilled pillowcases, and fluffy comforters to deck out a comfortable place to sleep. For more visual interest, add a textured rug in cotton or wool. Toss pillows provide a simple way to insert different hues and patterns.

Tying It All Together

Accents in French country decor are plentiful, helping to introduce texture and personality. Balance luxurious items like mirrors, chandeliers, and wall clocks with humble wire or woven storage baskets. Ceramics, tiles, and carved wooden pieces deliver rustic appeal while vases full of lavender or herbs infuse the room with hues from nature.

Final Thoughts

Beautiful in its simplicity, French country style is a unique blend of the rural and the refined. Its nod to tradition and emphasis on time-worn elements lend understated dignity to each room. Bright, open spaces, the inclusion of color and pattern, and cozy furnishings make this design a welcoming choice for any home.

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