Thinking of the French countryside, we can’t help missing its endless lavender fields washed in the sunshine. It all seems far away from our busy urban lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a dose of Provence in our own living rooms.
In fact, any rustic and homely setting can remind of the French countryside, as long as we know which elements can invoke it.
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French country style – the basics
Image source: Fabien Charuau
Country living rooms decorating is not the easiest project you’ve worked on, but it is a process you will enjoy.
French country design is unique, and it owns this to the seamless combination of old-world décor and European elegance. It does the best job balancing between comfort and beauty, while its inviting character makes it welcomed in every home worldwide.
What does French country style stand for?
Image source: Thompson Clarke Interiors
Mainly, it stands for comfort and warmness, and it supports family values. Its color palette is warm and moderately intense, and relies foremost on warm pinks, soft yellows, soothing creams, and very light blues. That’s why a country living room always feels like home.
As for the furnishing, think simple and graceful. Nothing is to be overdone and imposing, but everything should be carved or painted.
This makes French country style cost-effective, as you can get the job done with used and distressed furniture, or unique metal accents that support the recognizable shabby chic spirit. And while wood dominates French-inspired living rooms, the choice of materials goes way beyond it.
There is no limitation to as which fabrics you can use, but we do recommend toile as the most traditional French fabric. Besides, toile works just perfectly with plaids, solids, or even stripes.
How does a French country décor living room look like?
You won’t see large drapes and heavy fabrics in any French living room, despite of the obviously traditional setting.
The French are all about letting sun and nature inside, and thus decorate windows with light lacy panels. Quite often, they spice up with garden benches made of wrought iron, and they welcome all plants around.
How to begin equipping a French country living room?
Image source: Kyle Hunt & Partners, Incorporated
While it is true that every living room can become a French-styled living room, this décor style looks the best in old and elegant houses and countryside getaways. That’s because of its rustic charm and the warming atmosphere it creates – things we’d all love to have around every day.
Here are the essentials of country style living rooms, and few extra French country cottage decorating ideas you can consider.
Image source: Hardcore Renos
The French Country style uses colors from the wheel’s full spectrum. These are:
- Soft golds and sunny yellows
- Burnt rust, chocolate browns, and fiery reds
- Grass greens and hunter greens
- Soft nautical blues and cobalt blues
To highlight the brightness of these colors, French homeowners decorate with dull gray and bright black accessories. The lighting fixtures, rusted metal decorations, and furniture pieces also come in warm colors.
Another thing to be seen in every French country living room is contrast, especially in reference to textures. For instance, you will see rough and dark wooden beams opposing a pale ceiling, or a truly Provincial fabric full of colors placed on a neutral seating arrangement.
Image source: C.E.I.
French designers agree that it is important to work with natural materials. This makes their seemingly simple work memorable, as there is enough texture all around to complement the lack of bold colors.
To have an idea of how this works, think of a rough stained/painted plaster wall with a hefty beam ceiling, both in a room where most of the furniture is amazingly and carved in detail. The floors are most of the time made of stone, and neatly covered with cotton and wool rugs.
Last but not least, you can’t have a truly French country living room without a classy fireplace inside. This is simply the core of country living room decorating. The mantle will in fact be a heavy beam made of tiles (ceramic or stone), and there will be tones of accessories around it alike copper pots and herbs. Charming, ain’t it?
The architectural works
What is really noticeable in French country décor is the overall appearance of catchy architectural features. You can see them on plaster walls, distressed ceiling beams, stone floors, or many unusual places.
The furniture in a country style living room (especially the original one) boosts of curved panels and delicately carved artwork, or lets raw wood speak for itself. There is an armoire for pans, pots, clothing, or tableware somewhere in the room to complete the look. As you already guess, it is carved.
Deviating from the idea of having a separate dining room, French designers insist on placing a dining table in the living room. This table should be massive and attractive, always with a low-sheen or a dull waxed finish.
You can choose between round or rectangular tables – it is all the same, as long as there are gracious curves and carved details, and comfy chairs to accompany it. Speaking of chairs, get ones with vertical slats, or ideally with a ladder-back.
The flooring rules are simple – brick, stone, or clay. Here and there, you may also see charming wooden boards on the floor.
The windows are by default tall and narrow, and benefit of cute reading arrangements. Instead of heavy drapes, there are shutters you’ll only see closed during summer.
What is even more charming, doorways are most of the time decorated with low-maintenance vines.
The fabrics and the prints
A French style living room relies heavily on beautiful, top quality fabrics.
French prints are insanely popular around the world, despite of the simple story behind them.
French designers are inspired by their countryside to prepare fabrics for interiors, but still keep in mind these should work with stripes, plaids, and other modern home features. The palette consists of primary colors craftily combined with lavender, green, and bright orange.
As for prints, the most traditional French motifs are lavender, sunflowers, olives, roosters, and beetles.
The intervals in their arrangement are regular, but the scale varies depending on the size of the fabric. Typically, they appear on textile products such as curtain panels, linens, and table cloths.
Toile is the core of the French country tradition. It comes in yellow, white, or cream, decorated with large and contrasting motifs that are often green, blue, red, or black.
The common themes are bucolic country life scenes, 18th century court settings, farm animals, or Chinese patterns. The prints are usually applied on cotton or linen.
The French country décor
Image source: Katie Scott Design
French country living rooms are very inspiring, which means you won’t find it difficult to recreate the look. You can use items such as colorful tiles and ceramic, pottery, wire baskets, pieces of carved wood, plants, and beautiful paintings on the wall. The arrangement is up to you!
Another very common feature of French décor is flowers. You will find them all around, carefully displayed in glass vases, old cooper pots, or baskets. In such way, French people attempt to bring nature inside their homes.
Note that the very favorites of every French living room are lavender and geranium.
Summing up, there is almost no chance to see a French country table that is not adorned by colorful pottery.
This craft is part of their tradition, and they resisted the fine china influence to keep it alive. The themes of their tableware are olives, flowers, or roosters, and they like having iron candle holders around to support the rustic vibes.
French country living room ideas – What you should remember
Country living rooms are relaxed rooms, and that’s their main quality. Modern French country rooms are no exception to this rule.
The reason why French living rooms rebel the toll of time is that they are inspired by something truly timeless – the hillsides of Provence.
That’s where they get their relaxed elegance from; and that’s where they pick up their colors and textures. The furniture, on the other hand, aims to support the European ideas of elegance, and comes inside right on time to get the most of both worlds.
Yes, there are lots of benefits to reap from French traditions, so let the adventure begin!
Vintage is self-explanatory
To enhance the style of their living rooms, French homeowners collect antique and vintage pieces.
They arrange them in elegant galleries, in an attempt to replace shabby chic with heirloom. You can try the same for a genuine country French vibe. Vintage can also be your primary choice for inspiring room pictures.
French homes can brag with top-quality linen fabrics. You can see those framing the windows or beautifying the seating arrangement, and you can admire their informal elegance.
Therefore, all linen accents are welcomed, be those window treatments, pillows, or upholstered furniture pieces.
French designers try hard to replicate botanical motifs all around a living room, but what they really do is inviting us to let nature inside our homes. Potted plants are way better than floral vintage prints to merge the indoor with the outdoor area, so why not getting few of them?
Organic beauty is simply unique, and offers unparalleled freshness. Plus, you can get even more creative and prepare unique containers for your floral arrangement. Here’s a hint: Why not using your glass jars or empty milk bottles?
Faithful to France’s golden rococo era, French country furniture is all about class and sophistication.
Bustling with casual charm, French-inspired items have all sorts of elegant scrolled details, furled wood, and weathered framing. A living room in French style may cost a bit more.
The cutest details ever – birdcages
Image source: Period Homes, Inc
Metal birdcages are brought into French homes thanks to their whimsical note, as they remind owners of the comfort of a springtime garden.
They usually house personal items or potted plants, and come with recognizable features such as wrought irons, classic silhouettes, and whitewashed finishes. To enrich their effect, place them next to meaningful living room photographs.
Cozy coffee tables
French styled coffee tables are very inviting. Their wooden construction is very sturdy, and they’re easy to recognize thanks to their whitewashed finish. Yet, there is something more that makes them unique, and that’s the tufted plush cushion top.
Country style benches
Image source: Gus Ricci Architect
It may seem that French country décor favors appearance, but that’s not all there is too it. It is in fact country living décor – practicality is an important feature of French furniture, and there’s nothing better than a French country couch or cozy benches to prove it.
These benches are sturdy and fashionable, but enclose at the same time some valuable storage space for additional seats. The linen upholstery is usually neutral, but with a beautiful nail-head trim that brings it in line with the whole rustic thing.
The unique ambiance
French homes are without doubt elegant and refined, but the homely feeling they create makes them less strict. In fact, they can become the liveliest place ever in the blink of an eye.
Image source: Clarissa at Lee Douglas Interiors
If you want a truly French country style living room, stay away from bold colors. It is perfectly fine to have an all-white (or predominantly white) room, as long as you know how to jazz it up with some color. We’d recommend taupe or blush accents to calm the industrial vibe, and lots of different textures to bring the room to life.
No chandeliers –no Provence
All French country living rooms have chandeliers, and use those as focal points. As for the size, the larger the better!
Image source: dErin Sander Design
The same as the key items, your accessories should contradict time with a rustic and natural appearance. You can bring any accessories you want, as long as they hold the utilitarian appeal of Provence homes.
Remember – Nature is the foundation
Rely on nature as it is – raw, fresh, and very exposed. Your primary choice should be exposed beams, wooden panels, and raw bricks. You’ll be doing yourself a favor – these items can’t show wear and tear, and they only become better with time.
Go back to tufted items
Tufted furniture may be a bit outdated, but if like it, French country style enables you to reintroduce it. Instead of a boring sectional, you can get a comfy tufted sofa, and enjoy elegance and comfort at the same time.
You’ll need more flowers
What will bring a French living room together are fresh flower bouquets. In fact, getting flowers on regular basis is your best bet to enjoy some of that beautiful French Provence.
French designers observed predominantly lovingly warn farmhouses, and that’s where they learnt the most about gentle aging. This is why they recommend whitewashed wood for all of your furniture pieces.
It may cost a bit, but it will help achieve a very authentic country look. Meanwhile, forget about all furniture that is not distressed, including shiny and polished finishes.
Side pieces inspired by Louis XV
Image source: Douglas VanderHorn Architects
Royal France’s trademark is hand-carving, especially when it comes to wooden panels. There is nothing ‘frenchier’ than that, as the moldings go back directly to the time of Louis XV.
To replicate the looks, do some carving on smaller, side pieces, including your canapes and armchairs.
Give antique and oversized mirrors a try
Nothing screams ‘French’ more than a large and elegant mirror. It may be the one and only piece within a French home that never changed, so don’t forget about it. Better yet, ensure it has a breathtaking wooden frame around it.
Focus on comfort
Image source: Adolfo Gosálvez Photography
French country living rooms should be relaxed and intimate, as they were actually inspired by vacation life. Therefore, enrich them with fluffy cushions and soft textures, and let them bath in natural light.
Ending thoughts on these French country living room ideas
All things considered, French country style is one of the rare design modules that strike a balance between elegance and comfort. Basically, it lets you enjoy all benefits of a casual life, but does so in style.
With rich wallpaper here and there, or a lacy window arrangement, you will have enough of the classy vibe to avoid using uncomfortable furniture. The rule is – fill your space with items that make you feel good!
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