The style most people call French Provincial or Provincal is actually called French Country. A lot of people know of this style in home interior design and love it and we can understand why.
What is it: As one can say from the title, French country style was born among the lush valleys and meadows of provincial France. The style draws inspiration from local traditions and sweet things that have been kept in families for generations. Light and sunny in its simplicity, this style is truly elegant and it does not only catches the eye, but touches the soul.
Why it works: We all know that French boast unique exquisite sense of style and unerring taste. The same can be said about French Country style, which is very graceful and refined, unpretending but not boring at all.
Thanks to a natural pull towards harmony this style always creates comprehensive ensembles regardless of totally different interior elements you would like to combine. The recipe is very simple: take antiquity with its sensuality and sentiment and add a complexity of details that will make it “younger”.
You will like this style if… A lot of your cosmetic products contain lavender oil. You love working in the garden. You need harmony like you need air and cannot stand disagreements and loud arguments. And, oh yes, Julia Child has taught you to cook the best coq au vin in town.
Secret of the style: Graceful, but practical furniture.
French country style easily combines elegance and functionality. This particular style does not incorporate lush and overflowing details that many other french styles use; however, every detail is perfectly constructed in proportion and shape. Since the French are obsessed with making every interior detail “work” its maximum, it is not rare to see a very multifunctional piece in French country interior.
In order to create a wholesome ensemble you don’t have to choose furniture pieces that all look alike. You are free to use various materials: wood, natural fabrics and a little metal with noble patina.
Advice: When choosing the furniture always remember to take into considerations not only looks, but also its functionality. You are lucy, as the French have invented a lot of functional furniture pieces, such as chairs with armrests that look more like light armchairs.
Secret of the style: Flowers
The key concept of French country style is blurred lines between interior and exterior design. This is rooted from the very lifestyle of Provincial France and any French country interior cannot be considered finished if there are no flowers. It can be a bouquet of fresh flowers in the vase, floral textile pattern or wooden mirror frame ornament.
Advice: All of the flowers in the interior should never look deliberate. The floral galore should look like it naturally “crawled” into your room from the garden, never standing out from the rest of the accessories. Choose the flowers that has been historically grown in France: sunflowers, roses, poppies.
Secret of the style: warm colors
The true colors of French Country, bright, muted or pastel have a unique ability to envelope and bring comfort. Even white color is not icy in its perfection: French country style uses its creme shades, ivory or champagne – colors that radiate warmth. All other colors may be just taken outside of the window: sage, lavender, peony, blue skies or sunlight.
Advice: Still French country style calls for washed out colors. You should save bold colors for accessories and decorate the main space in pastel shades. If you would like to highlight the French origin of the interior, you can use the colors of the French national flag – red, white and blue – and accentuate.
Secret of the style: meaningful accessories
It is rare for accessories in French country style to play a simple role of decor. All of the accessories are ready to be used: the decorative plates can be used for dinner, clay pitchers in the kitchen can contain milk or cream and wicker baskets hold the harvest from the garden.
Advice: open shelves are the most popular habitat for meaningful accessories: things that we extensively use every day should be in the open and within reach and should not be hiding behind the closed cabinet doors.
Secret of the style: multi layered textiles
Just like furniture, textiles in French country style form a playful combination. Even if Toile de jouy is the essence of french style, you can easily add striped, floral or checkered fabrics to your interior. Rough textiles, such as linen, gobelin and quilts are not only beautiful to the eye, but pleasure to touch.
Advice: You can experiment with different textiles and patterns in your interior, however, the color palette should be unified or you can end up with eclectic interior instead of French country one.
Secret of the style: delicate patina
The style that fully relies on history and tradition cannot accept new store bought furniture and accessories. Rust and dust are the most precious elements of French country style. Painted surfaces should be weathered and distressed, they should project the feeling of being used if not for centuries, but for at least decades. Choose wrought iron, bronze or brass instead of polished metals. You can even use an old used quilt or a throw pillow that has a couple of stains.
Advice: You should concentrate and think what you like better – new, but distressed furniture or truly antique one. Distressed furniture is cheaper and you can even do some of the distressing yourself. Antique furniture is a more complicated matter: not only it deserves the right care, but it is also easy to buy a fake instead of a real pearl.
Secret of the style: textured surfaces
No stainless steel or smooth tiles! French country style surfaces are distinct, uneven and rough.
Advice: plaster and stone or a combination of both is the ideal choice for walls. If you like painted walls then think about glazing or other ways to avoid perfect smooth walls finish. It is better to use natural stone, wood or terracotta shade tiles for floors.