French Country Home Decor, Unleashed

a Way of Life

French country home decorstyle, warmth, uniqueness – color, pattern, texture – vintage, found objects, contemporary treasures – regional art, international handicraft . . .

The ambiance that we identify with French country home decor and decorating has, over the last number of years, become one of the favorites of all decorating themes.

But WHAT do the words “French country home” conjure up in your mind?

Not a rhetorical question
It is important to spend a bit of time thinking about this because there is a certain ambiance, an attitude, a mood that is invoked in you by the words - - - and THAT is what you want to define and express in your own way when approaching French country decorating. Remember, this is French country home decor unleashed! (we’ll be removing some of those decorating do’s and don’ts’)

The history, geographical area, architecture and decorative definitions of this style are good to have a passing acquaintance with, but what really matters here is what are you looking for, what you want to create when you use these words.

For most of us, what sets the country French style apart from other home decorating themes is the warmth that French country home decor exudes. There is a certain “something” that you can’t quite pinpoint or define, but “you know it when you see it”.

There is a term, “art de vivre”
Loosely translated it means art or style as a way of life. It is the ability to combine diverse elements – hard and soft surfaces, old and new items, different cultural influences, patterns and colors into a uniquely harmonious whole.

This is a quality that we attribute to the French, as an extension of their seemingly genetic predisposition to art, style and fashion, that creates the look that we identify as French country. It is an attitude, an approach to life, an appreciation for the “moments of our lives”. It is the ability to turn an activity as prosaic as drinking coffee into an art form.

After all, these are the people who showed us that leisurely good conversation shared over rich espresso and buttery croissants was preferable to pop tarts and instant anything.

French country decorating ideas are similar to our idea of “eclectic”, but always with that sense of style – never “hodgepodge”, and not as “cute” as what we often associate with the word “country”. (no parade of little ducks or geese with bows around their necks).

The good news is that creating a French country home decor is much more than the right colors, the type of furniture you use, appropriate accessories, or even the architecture (even though the architecture is SO wonderful). It is, more than anything else, an attitude, an ambiance that can be easily created no matter where you live, and without having to completely re-do your existing home’s interior.

Country French décor is personal
And because there is no one decorating style that clearly defines French country home décor, there is a lot of decorative “wiggle room”.

We have a lot of “unleashed” decorating ideas for creating this ambiance, but before diving into them, a brief review of the regions that created this incredibly popular decorating style is helpful in understanding what makes our idea of the French country home so appealing, how it evolved and most importantly, how we can re-create it in our own homes.

Architectural styles vary greatly from one part of the country to another.
The great diversity of what we think of as country French decorating became a visceral reality for my husband, Art and me during a two week driving trip through the French countryside a few years ago. Driving through Normandy, north of Paris, small villages with charming half timbered facades and steep roofs made it easy for us to imagine the sound of distant yodeling, and to make us think that we were still in nearby Bavaria, as did the gingerbread trims and colorful paint on many of the houses. Here French country home decor had a decidedly alpine feel.

As we traveled further south, both the land and the structures became visually softer, more inviting. In this western region to the south, settled by the Basque, the landscape had rolling hills, and French country home decor meant tall whitewashed buildings with the traditional channel tile roofs. (and speaking of roof tile, there are some really cool things you can do with these!)

These French country homes were both charming and appealing, but we were still not experiencing “French country”, that illusive “something”, that ambiance that most of us mean by that term.

And then, there it was - Provence
And although this region is not representative of the entirety of France it wasn’t the country, but rather the popular conception of French country decor that we were seeking.

It is here, in the south of France, that the Mediterranean influence most of us associate with the country French style is most evident.

Buildings are made from limestone and many exteriors (and interiors) clearly reveal the nearby origin of rocks and rubble gathered from the fields that form their walls. (And there are easy ways for you to replicate this “been there, done that” look).

Warm organic tones, produced from oxides in the local stone, sand and earth create the earthy hues we associate with French country home decor.

And yes, grape vines really DO spill across the front of buildings!

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details” – and that certainly goes for decorating ideas when creating your own personal French country home.

So, what does all this mean to us as we decide that French country decor is for us?

How do we create that illusive ambiance that we associate with the idea of a French country home?

Well, the good news is that a slavish adherence to historically or even geographically correct furniture or furnishings of French country home decor won’t be part of our country French decorating ideas unleashed!

The country French style is open to interpretation (remember, there are no “decorator police”), so keep this in mind as we explore French country home decor, and all the ways you can interpret it

We’re going for the textures and colors of the French country kitchen and the practical (or not-so-much-so) decorative accents that make country French kitchens so appealing.

We are seeking the intimacy of the French country bedroom, the tranquility of the country French bath, the quirkiness of many of the decorative accents that we can use to create the inviting ambiance, the mood that is conjured up in our minds with the words country French decor.

And, of course, part of the fun is finding great stuff, and if you’re not sure just where to look, we have a few ideas on that too.

So, its “outside” the box with your imagination and time to start playing with some of these French country home decor ideas unleashed!

return from French Country Home Decor to Art Decorating Ideas, Unleashed!


French Country Kitchens-Texture, Color & Warmth

Country French Kitchens-It's the Spice that Gives it Flavor

Country French Decor for the Bath-Creating a Private Retreat

French Country Furniture-Mix & Mismatch!