French country décor has been a popular design style for centuries, but it’s gained more popularity thanks to the show Fixer Upper. Joanna Gaines and many other designers use elements of French country style in their remodels, and you can too.
Today’s contemporary designs involve cleaner lines and less ornate and colorful décor items, but the details tend to be a little more elaborate. For a more sophisticated spin on modern French country décor, designers use a combination of neutral colors, allowing the elaborate details to stand out.
If you love French country design and want to incorporate it into your home, here are some of the best ways to do so.
1. Rustic Pastel Rooms
Although neutral rooms are very popular, sometimes a splash of color is nice. Choose pastel colors for your 19th century arm chairs and floral-patterned curtains. Pastel is easy to mix and match, so you can include a variety of colors in a single room with a striking result.
Play with mismatched patterns. Unlike modern design, French country allows you to incorporate a variety of patterns with your furniture, wallpaper, carpet, and accents.
2. Ornately Designed Furniture
Straight backed chairs, futons, and other 21st century designs have no business in a French country room. You don’t have to buy antique furniture, but it should have an older style. This furniture is characterized by bowed legs, scalloped edges, rich fabrics, wood or metal-lined chairs, shaded chandeliers, upholstered dining room chairs, and more.
If you’re struggling to develop the perfect look for your French country scene, look for an antique piece to base your designs on. It might be something handed down from generation to generation or it might be something you picked up at an antique shop.
3. Whitewashed Wood Surfaces
French country design is all about rustic allure. You can create that by whitewashing your wooden tables, end tables, coffee tables, side tables, desks, doors, and other wooden surfaces in a creamy white. If it’s a little distressed, that’s even better because it makes the piece look older.
White is a very popular color for the French country period. Find antique wooden chairs with intricate design work at an antique shop and whitewash them yourself. It’s a great way to save money while achieving an accurate look.
4. Old-World Dining Rooms
An antique dining room will feature plenty of wood attributes, including hardwood floors, a glass and wood china cabinet, elaborate base boards, crown molding, and a minute amount of rustic paneling. It will also feature wall sconces and an ornate, shaded chandelier.
The table will be set in the French country style with a French tablecloth, tall candlesticks, and fresh flowers as a centerpiece. The dining room chairs will not be hardwood, but rather upholstered with a pretty, patterned fabric.
5. Dramatic Fireplaces
The fireplace is the central focal point of the room, particularly for French country design. The architects did not believe in plain-Jane fireplaces. They wanted the feature to be beautifully surrounded by smooth curves, swirling designs, and elaborate detail.
A room designed in the true French-country way will have a more elaborate fireplace. It’s even better if it’s wood-burning because it will look more authentic.
6. Update Your Doors
Doors say a lot more about a home’s style than many people realize. A plain, boring door in a beautifully decorated French country home will ruin the entire effect. Doors in this style involve a combination of wood, wrought iron, and glass. Most exterior doors feature panes of glass to let in plenty of natural light, but you could play around with glass for your interior doors as well.
Look into installing French doors that lead to your back patio. If there’s room, do the same for the front door. French doors were originally used in the countryside, and it doesn’t get much better!
7. Decorate with Toile
Toile is the most popular French pattern. It’s a sophisticated print of garden scenes, flowers, trees, and wildlife, and it was most popular in France during the mid 18th century. They’re also usually designed in pastel and neutral colors, lending to the more muted effect of the French country design.
Toile is most often found on linens, including tablecloths, curtains, and bedding. It can also be found on upholstery and is particularly popular on modern headboards.
Designing in the French country style isn’t difficult thanks to the distinctiveness of the design, but it does require precise planning. Because the style is so distinct, the wrong piece could derail the result. Keep these tips in mind as you decorate and have a plan before you begin.