As we begin to plan our home build on ranchland we purchased years ago in Wyoming, I have been considering the decor style that would have the right feel to accommodate both my feminine nature and my guys’ man’s-man, hunting lodge aesthetic.
(yep. don’t think I’m gonna get away from the “dead-head” trophies on the wall this time.)
Enter the hero: French Country
Tho I don’t think festoons of flowery patterns on walls and textiles will get the hubby’s nod, a more modern approach might fit the rugged and rustic sensitivities of both he and man-child.
… I’ll be darned if I don’t tuck in a couple of sparkly glam things just out of general principal!
If you are looking for decorating ideas to update your French Country Farmhouse style, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the scoop on Provence French, Shabby Chic, & all things rustic made new.
What Is The French Country Style?
… Provincial design is beloved today for its casually elegant vibe.Maggie Burch, House Beautiful
When French Provincial architecture appears in the United States, it’s actually classified as a revival, inspired by the original 17th- and 18th-century manor houses that dot the countryside of France. These homes and their furnishings were themselves inspired by the then en-vogue stylings of Paris during the reign of King Louis XIV, bringing about toned-down, simpler versions of what filled the halls of Versailles.”
Lofty beginnings, indeed!
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Living Simply, The French Country Way
The traditional French Country style has been known for its indulgences of color, pattern, and curvaceous lines. Think Louis XIV and XV furnishings, heavily draped windows, thickly woven rugs, tufted upholstery, crystal-dripping chandeliers, and ceramic roosters.
(that’s what I said)
All lovely yet, for those of us looking for cleaner lines, not quite the update we are looking for.
The modern French Country seems to take a simpler approach, evoking a sense of what is at the same time global, traditional, timeless, and authentic. Rooms feel lived-in, well-traveled, and well-loved, as evidenced by the carefully considered treasures and remembrances that occupy them.
Structural finishes lend character with exposed ceiling beams and distressed wood or stone tile floors. Window treatments are decidedly light-handed, allowing breezes through an open window to animate their diaphanous grace.
In my opinion, the best accomplished French Country designs don’t feel like designs at all, but are more unpredictable and curated than matchy, at once cohesive but with a feel of being collected over time.
Utilitarian things take on the role of decor. Tin watering cans act as sculpture or wall art. Burlap grain sacks stand in for table runners (previous contents printed in French, n’est-ce pas?), ironstone pitchers and woven baskets for vases, trunks for coffee tables. It is unquestionably farmhouse, but with a chic Parisian flair.
Altho traditional French Country makes use of vibrant color, softer palettes and cleaner, uncluttered lines give a modern uptick.
My favorite rooms are awash in warm neutrals, texture reading louder than color with nubby upholstery and rustic wood surfaces rubbing up against velvet (gasp!), well-patinaed metals and smooth-as-glass marble or stone. Just a teeny, sorely-restrained hint of soft blues that look as tho they fell out like pieces of the sky present themselves in accent pieces.
Indeed, the French Country color palette includes muted tints of both green and robin’s egg blue, along with white-washed finishes and distressed oak textures.
Then there are the surprises, like vintage crystal chandeliers above an antique farmhouse table (see? I can get my glam fix!!), fresh flowers in gleaming silver vases next to timeworn books, or an ornate wall mirror propped against a stone wall.
About That Fabric
But, quite surprising is the reinvigorated popularity of Toile!
Ballard Designs gives the quintessentially French fabric’s background here:
Perhaps historically considered an old-fashioned fabric found in stuffy, traditional homes, toile is enjoying a modern revival — and turning heads. The design world’s new take on toile has something for everyone, from surprising color combinations to reimagined designs. On the runway, the traditional French pattern is being paired with stripes and florals for an updated mix. At home, it’s covering everything from beds to walls in a variety of decor styles, including French country, eclectic and even modern.”From How To Decorate; Ideas and Inspiration From Ballard Design
In modern settings it plays a joyful and laid back role, appearing in linens, on serving pieces, and such unexpected surfaces as pet-food canisters.
The Modern French Country Kitchen
Speaking of food, what says French Country better than the importance of sharing a meal?
Modern French Country Kitchens have risen as a work of art, combining the best of both high- and low-tech to provide meals as simple as a wine-and-cheese picnic or extravagant as Christmas dinner for 30.
Copper pots and pans hanging on a wall or above the stove are epically French Country. Blue and white patterned plates and old ironstone serving trays are other typical kitchen wall adornments.
And, if you must have a ceramic rooster in the room, do what you may …
If you are looking for more visual inspiration, here is a beautiful Tumblr site for French Country Home images.
The grandeur of Versailles may have had its day, but for home dwellers in the 21st century, my money is on its modern iteration of French Country style. Such casual elegance offers the wandering eye sumptuous fare for its simplicity.
à tout à l’heure (That would be French for toodeloo!),
PS: Resources for decorating in French Country style 🙂