French country style décor has its roots in the gentle hills and valleys of rural France. It’s an unstudied, collected approach, built on firmly entrenched local traditions and on cherished objects and home accessories handed down through generations. Simple and sincere yet effortlessly elegant, it satisfies the soul as much as the eye.
The French seem to have an innate sense of taste and refinement that keeps this unassuming style from feeling boring. Guided by instinct and a knack for striking a balance, French country décor combines deep tradition with an edge of sophistication that keeps it perennially fresh.
Although French country accessories are largely free of the embellishments that historically have marked more affluent French design, they’re shapely and well scaled, with an eye towards balance. And because the rural French of old had to be sure every piece would work its hardest, it’s not unusual to see multifunctional objects or other furnishings that can be moved to wherever they’re needed most. The key is to stay away from matching furniture sets. Instead, mix wooden home accessories in a variety of natural finishes with metal ones that show a little age.
Blurring the boundaries between inside and out is a cornerstone of life in France’s rural regions (indeed, throughout the nation). Thus, no French country interior is complete without flowers, whether they’re clustered in a pottery vase, blooming on linen upholstery or carved into a wooden mirror frame. Fresh flowers and foliage should look as though they could have come from a garden just outside the door, arranged casually and without affectation. Choose French flowers that hail from the countryside: sunflowers, irises, poppies or arrange bunches of dried lavender in a rustic trug or basket.
Whether they’re bright, deep or pastel, French country colours have a warmth about them that translates to instant comfort. No brilliant white here; think cream, ecru, ivory. Other colours pull directly from the landscape: greens and lavenders, sunny yellows and sky blues, bright pinks and vibrant reds. A collection of colourful, hand painted pottery plates, bowls or jugs (or a mixture of all three) on a shelf or dresser can really bring a touch of French style to the kitchen.
Rarely will French country kitchen accessories be purely decorative. They usually have an undertone of usefulness: plates hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf that can be pulled down for service, jugs and jars that contain kitchen staples, baskets that display plump produce from the garden. Simple shelving is a natural partner for this look — everyday items enjoy pride of place rather than languishing behind cabinet doors. French country décor is all about selecting attractive kitchen accessories that will sit out on shelves or on the kitchen worktop. You need to control that urge to put everything away in cupboards! A well placed cookery book holder in wrought iron (perhaps with a recipe book open on it), a wooden cutlery box, a simple zinc jug – these will all add to the effect.
And don’t forget the wall! It’s fairly typical for the French to display and store many items in wall-hanging kitchen accessories that all add to the look. Whether it’s a wrought iron hanging glasses rack, a hanging egg holder, or a useful rustic style kitchen blackboard, it all helps create that French country style you’re trying to achieve.
In a style that’s intended to reflect longevity and tradition, spanking-new furnishings really stick out. Instead, French country décor calls for a little rust and dust. Painted pieces should feel distressed, as if they’ve withstood years of wear and use. And choose your kitchen accessories with care. Avoid shiny metals in favour of wrought iron or zinc accessories, preferably with a few dings and scuffs.
Much of the appeal of French country style decor lies in a sprinkle of whimsical accents — and there’s nothing more iconic than a hen or cockerel. The challenge is to limit yourself and not to go overboard. Pick a few key kitchen accessories with a farmyard theme, such as a metal trivet, an egg holder or a cookery book stand. Then practice the art of restraint. Here are a few farmyard items that would work well on the kitchen worktop…
The country and retro kitchen accessories section of the website has a wealth of country kitchen accessories that will definitely help you achieve that French country look. And don’t forget that a well selected tablecloth can add colour and country style to the kitchen!