Country French Kitchens

"It’s the Spice that Gives it Flavor"

What are country French kitchens made of?

Sunlight streaming through colored glass, food as art or decor, an antique mustard jar (or bone marrow jar???) and other quirky accents.

All this and more goes into creating the ambiance we associate with country French kitchens.

And once you get the basics done, the floor, countertops, colors, etc. it’s time to start going for the really fun stuff!

Windows are an ideal place to create a little country French “flavor”. Working shutters or colorful café curtains are always classic touches.

Windows are also an ideal place for a bit of country French kitchen “kitsch”.

They (the ones that came with the house or flea market finds) are perfect for a bit of “faux food”. An old kitchen window is rescued from a terrible fate and given new life, festooned with faux onion and garlic braids (real ones would be wonderful too!

Old windows can be hung in front of more boring built-in windows (especially effective in front of plain, one paned more modern ones) or they can be used as wall décor.

Copper pots, hanging from the ceiling or a pot rack or wall rack. They are both utilitarian and decorative - and oh so country French! And if you don’t have the fabulous (and expensive heavy copper pots), your own cooking utensils and implements will look great hanging overhead too!

Incidentally, pot racks are a great decorating investment. Besides the gleaming copper pots, they are ideal for hanging dried herbs and flowers, and, of course, baskets.

Baskets – what self respecting country French kitchen would be caught without a basket or two or seven? Sitting baskets, wall baskets, hanging baskets! Equally at home in French or Tuscan décor, I’ll play with baskets more in our Tuscan decorating theme.

Get your utensils out of those drawers!
I have a couple of handmade pottery mugs that I love, but they really aren’t too practical to drink out of (stuff dribbles down your chin), but they look cool, so I have stuffed all my cooking utensils into one and a handful of wooden spoons into the other.

Perfect – I have the stuff I use everyday easily at hand AND I have the ideal excuse for keeping (maybe even buying more!) handmade mugs

Dishes too, are often used not only to eat in, but as decorative elements in French country kitchens. Displayed in open shelving or glass fronted cabinets they become another one of those utilitarian/decorative pieces.

Got empty space between the top of your cupboards and the ceiling? (lots of older houses do). Use that area to display things you may have tucked away – extra vases, an interesting old tin, maybe some glass jars filled with beautiful (but inedible) preserved veggies.

Add your own personal touches

In our own kitchen we have two wall pot racks on a faux (love that word) brick wall. Our everyday cookware hangs here, along with a bright red colander (that gets used)

Right next to that, dangling over a microwave (that doesn’t get used)is a pair of antique ice skates from the late 1800’s (these don’t get used either!)

What do the ice skates have to do with country French kitchens (or French country decorating in general)? Absolutely nothing in the conventional sense, but it is that touch of the unexpected that we found so charming in our own travels through the European countryside (and it’s a great place for drying a few hot chilies!)

I’ve been sort of holding myself in check here and trying to keep a bit of common sense in what one might want to have in their country French kitchen, but I’d gotta tell you, my kitchen is home to a large cow mannequin, dressed in early 20th century French country clothes.

If unleashed works for you, I’ve tucked some of these more “out there” ideas into the French Country Decorating – It’s All about the Accessories and the Country French Decorating, I’ts STILL All About the Accessories pages.

And have we even talked about flowers and herbs? Don’t think so, and in a French country kitchen they are a given – especially what I would call “everyday flowers”.

I don’t know why but hydrangeas always make me think of the French countryside. Maybe because they’re called French Hydrangeas? But they come from Asia – China and Japan – who knows, they just have the casual, “gather me up in a big bunch” look that seems so rustic French to me.

So, here’s a great country French decorating idea for popping into a corner of your country French kitchen - find a big basket – the bigger the better, then fill it up with hydrangeas – if you have some containers in the basket bottom, you can fill them with water, pop the stems into the containers and the hydrangeas will slowly dry, but will retain their shape and color!

If you’re careful with them, they will last for years. I’ll have some design and decorating ideas for you in some future pages for using dried hydrangeas.

French country, as its name implies, is about . . . country!

Rural living was closer to the land, and everyday items were not only utilized in their regular workday roles, but were also the stuff of decorative embellishment

Food – Faux or Real?

And what is more “everyday” than food? A bowl of melons, a basket of eggs - SO country French kitchen! The bounty of the land could supply not only sustenance, but beauty as well.

And if you go for “faux food”, then you don’t even need to worry about anything wilting, spoiling or rotting – only getting dusty!

On a personal note, I am NUTS about fake food! – the good stuff, the stuff that you have to touch (or taste) to be sure).

And eggs, in particular, absolutely fascinate me.

We created a number of “eggcentric” ideas over the years. Our “eggcentric bowl” was created out of a bit of chicken wire and handmade paper for an entire “Eggcentric Kitchen” on HGTV - The Carol Duvall Show.

Faux or fake food is ideal for creating some really interesting “floral arrangements” and/or centerpieces without ever introducing a single flower!

Find a source for great fake food (faux to the French) and you have a cornucopia of very yummy decorating ideas that fit perfectly into a French country kitchen decorating scheme.

French country kitchens, create the space, then it is all about the warmth, the mood, the people and the food!

And with that, here is a last thought (actually last photo) about a bit of fake food ambiance.

Who knows WHAT we created this for, but those potatoes are all faux (maybe let it languish in the corner by the faux fireplace?)

Country French kitchens can be interpreted in many ways, and it is a decorating style with a tremendous amount of creative leeway as to personal choices.

It’s your personality, in the colors, accessories, and styling that makes the country French look come alive!

return from Country French Kitchens, It's the Spice that Gives it Flavor to Art Decorating Ideas, Unleashed!


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