With its one more toile pillow couldn’t hurt approach, we have the softest of spots for French Country charm. The ideal style for the vintage-hunting sweetheart, French Country is characterized by stretching farmhouse dining tables, antique milk jugs that double as vases, and cabinets stuffed to the brim with mismatched porcelain. Perfect for homes where a few-too-many rustic touches make it easier to play up imperfections than mask them, French Country style is about the ease of the Provincial living and surrounding yourself with a collection not so tightly edited.
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO FRENCH COUNTRY INTERIORS
When it comes to French style, there’s Parisian style, which touts itself as the devil-may-care cool girl, and then there’s French Country—the bohemian older sister who ran away to Provence. An eclectic style that harbors no firm do’s and don’ts, French Country style reads like a love letter to the French countryside. Playing off the region’s crumbling architecture and the landscape’s natural hues—think meadow-y greens, intoxicating lavenders, and buzzy burgundies—the French Country style is a relaxed take on old world elegance. If you love the look, but aren’t sure where to start, consider our list of French Country essentials below. Mix and match however you please to curate a look that’s your own personal joie de vivre!
THE ANATOMY OF FRENCH COUNTRY STYLE
French Farmhouse, French Provincial, Shabby Chic done the je ne sais quois way—French Country style goes by many names, but can thankfully be reduced to some tried and true elements. We detail the best of them below.
If you love French Country style then toile is your tune. A densely-printed fabric featuring whispery images of days-gone-by pastoral scenes, toile is usually rendered in tones of blue or red. While the pattern may conjure up images of your grandmother’s blue willow china, we promise that when used on a vintage French Country bed or fashioned as curtains, toile will feel remarkably fresh. The key is using the pattern in excess. Meaning? If you have toile curtains, then factor in a piece of vintage French Country furniture like a chair, upholstered in the same print. And don’t subject the piece to different corners of the room either. No, in true fearless French style, cozy them right up next to each other, they’re meant to be besties.
Blue & White
We can thank toile for this classic color combo, which feels equal parts rustic and chic. While blue and white will transform any room from feeling ho-hum into a by-the-sea sanctuary, we especially love this palette when it’s used in the kitchen. Why? Well, first off, blue and white dishware is a legitimate thing, and so filling up a vintage French Country hutch or vintage French Country credenza is all in an afternoon’s work, and second, blue and white perfectly complements copper pans and vintage French Country farm tables, other hallmarks of the look.
When you consider that the real aim of French Country style is to make your space look like it’s been on the gentle decline for centuries, it’s clear that a few built-in architectural details won’t hurt. But, let’s face it, most of us don’t live in a stone cottage with those covetable fleur-de-lis moldings and recessed bookshelves. The next best thing? Vintage French Country furniture that mimics built-ins. Among our favorite pieces to use are vintage armoires or vintage hutches. A vintage French Country armoire is perfect for any room, as it’ll store clothing, linens, or dishware with aplomb. In fact, if opting for the later, just move that baby right into the kitchen—it’ll mimic an age-old built in like a pro. Another quick install? Shutters. Use them indoors to frame out a window that might be too high for regular curtains.
In the French countryside, homes are a direct product of their surroundings, meaning they feature stone, weathered wood, and hand-tooled iron pulled straight from the source. Iron especially speaks to the ease of Provincial living. The easiest way to factor it into your space? Vintage French Country furniture. Be it a kicking daybed or a spiffy bistro set, iron will induce your space into a total Garden State. Just make sure that if you are using iron, that you counterbalance its sparseness with a well-needed element of softness. Be it a cottony pillow decked out in ticking stripes or a fluffy down comforter, the texture will ensure that any al fresco vibes are put in check.
We love a style that allows a few nicks and dings to fly under the radar, and French Country, with its affinity for weathered woods and no-use-in-looking-too-close mentality is just what we’ve been craving. When curating a French Country space, look for vintage French Country furniture like trestle dining tables and spindle-leg coffee tables rendered in rustic wood finishes. If you want to take things a step further, seek out vintage French Country furniture that has been painted or whitewashed—and bonus points for any peeling or cracking that's present.
Vintage French Country furniture should toe the line between romantic and curvy and weathered and worn. The obvious contender? The Fauteuil. Featuring a serpentine back, a wide seat, open sides, and cabriole legs, this piece of vintage French Country furniture is the keystone of the Paris pied-à-terre, but rough up its finish a bit and it becomes a French Country vision suitable for any Provincial interior. When it comes to choosing a fabric for this vintage French Country chair, try a gingham, solid linen, or that aforementioned toile. Velvets would feel too cosmopolitan here, but a bucolic print like gingham will provide it just the casual note it needs.