According to Ros Byam Shaw, author of Perfect French Country, “The French have displayed an enviable degree of domestic chic.” As a result, French country décor remains enduringly popular. Here are a few tips on how to best achieve the look.
Embrace the juxtaposition
Acknowledge that French country is about dichotomy – juxapostion. It’s rustic country meets old world elegance. It’s a crystal chandelier hanging from hand-hewn beams towering over rough stone floors.
As Brittnay Smart notes, “Because of its inherent contrasts and its warmth and casual elegance, French country style works as well in ancient chateaux as in country cottages and elegant manors built today.”
Consider the palette
Next, keep the color palette soft and warm. Jennifer Davenport references “a soothing palette” and Linda Wright notes that “neutrals usually override color.”
Colors are present, but they are typically more understated and secondary.
Let lights sparkle
It’s no surprise that the country that dominates haute couture is also quite concerned with lighting fixtures, considered by some the jewelry of homes.
As Casey Watkins notes, “One defining piece of a French country space is the sparkling chandelier . . . you’ll find chandeliers in various sizes in the living room, bedroom and even the bathroom.”
Add character a patina
Be sure to bring authenticity to your décor with true patina. Brittnay Smart notes, “It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – one way to really bring the French country style home is to incorporate antique French furniture pieces into the space.”
When choosing pieces, the emphasis is on the finish and patina. Smart encourages homeowners to “show off the scuffs and dings and chippiness of once-elegant furniture” and Pamela Cole Harris advised that “Buying older furniture would be a perfect fit for this style.”
A handful of Dallas providers, like Heritage Antiques and Interiors, direct import quality French antiques. Numerous authors particularly emphasize the appropriate finish for a French country dining table as low-sheen or waxed, and they don’t mean spray wax. Ask your antiques experts about the virtues of a true French wax.
Accent with a touch of gold
Finally, the finishing touch is shimmer. “In a proper French country home, you can always find just a glint of gold,” notes Casey Watkins. “Be it a piece of furniture or the frame of a mirror, make sure you add something gilded to every room.”
Done right, French country combines grace, charm, and simple elegance in ways that are warm and welcoming. As Brittnay Smart notes, “Not many people can resist a style that is so rich with ornate details but that is as un-intimidating as a woodside cottage.”