Choosing a new theme for your home or even just one room can be exciting. It gives you the opportunity to not only bring new life to your space but can also provide you with an avenue to express your creativity. For example, if you’re in love with a certain area of the world, why not bring it into your home? Our personal favorite is the French countryside! This specific style calls for a kind of simple elegance and authenticity that makes it immediately recognizable from books, paintings, and even some of your favorite films. If you’re looking to transform your space and add elements of the French countryside, follow this guide of colors, textures, and more to transport yourself there (minus the flight).
1. Muted, Warm Colors
Everything in a French country design is built to last, but ought to look as delicate as a newly-budding rose. Warm hues are a necessity, with shades as soft as you can get. If you’re worried that such a pale palette will seem aged or outdated, it’s time to reframe your expectations. Old French country houses keep a lot of the same themes for decades, even centuries. Vintage furnishings were designed to last that long. So if they come out of the box looking like they have seen a few too many summers, that is all the better. You are aiming for something that looks a little sun-faded from its time spent in an 18th Century conservatory.
2. Soft Florals
Nothing calls you to the lavender fields of Provence in quite the same way as soft florals. Take your muted color palette and add a few sprigs of color here and there. Feel free to sprinkle in a few large blooms, and don’t hesitate to use contrasting patterns for walls and furniture. It is tempting to pick a few accents here and there, but you can really go big with wallpaper or even tapestries.
If you want to stick to tradition, try toile. This word technically refers to linen or canvas, but it’s taken on a life of its own over the centuries. Toile de Jouy is soft white linen or muslin fabric with a striking pattern in a single color and is often showing a complex scene from French country life.
3. Curved Lines
The current trend toward minimalism might leave you feeling a little boxy, which is why curves are coming back in a big way. Furniture with curved lines immediately transports you into another century. In keeping with the muted palette and floral theme, you can select a vintage piece and have it reupholstered with your choice of fabrics. The paler the better in most cases, so you may want something in a cream or sun-bleached yellow. You can also opt for a light blue, in keeping with the preferences of the House of Bourbon.
For the shape of the sofa or chair, choose a cozy loveseat or an overstuffed Chesterfield. A tufted seat and back will coordinate with a variety of styles from the 17th to early 20th centuries, so it should fit in nicely with the rest of your décor.
4. Gold Finishes
Gold is the standard for quality, and France made it a part of the cultural style. To this day, the Palace of Versailles includes hundreds of kilograms of the precious metal in leaf, flake, and solid forms. Of course, any French country house worthy of the name would incorporate a little here and there. The goal is weathered authenticity, so wherever you can, be sure to use the real deal. A mirror or picture framed in gold leaf on hand-carved wood is an excellent choice. Or search out an antique chandelier, even if it only has a few bits of gold. The tone coordinates perfectly with the color palette and will upgrade the quality of the room by definition.
5. Weathered Accents
Decades ago, people did not simply throw out a furnishing because they got bored with it. They kept it, refinished it, reupholstered it, repaired it, and gave it to their children. By the time a table or chair had been around for a century or two, it looked like it had taken a slight beating. With a quality piece, you can showcase a lived-in feel without having to break the bank on polish. The aesthetic you’re looking for is loved and worn but not dilapidated. Slight scratches or fading are ideal but significant cracks or wobbliness call for repair or restoration. And if you are picking it up fresh from the store, you don’t have to be too careful in its placement. A little bump here and there just adds to its charm.
Building your own little piece of the French countryside is easy when you incorporate these five design elements. With the right fabric, furniture and finish choices, and inspiration from home and gardening magazines, you can relax and enjoy your French countryside escape.