French Country Kitchens
"Texture, Color & Warmth"
French country kitchens -inviting ambiance created from practicality, simplicity, warm colors, and natural materials.
One of the hallmarks of French country ambiance is the all purpose, “everybody gathers here” French country kitchens. Originally this room, known as the salle, served as the kitchen/living and sometimes bedroom.
And the focal point of the “all things to all people” room was the large open fireplace.
We probably love this decorating idea more for the visual, rather than the actual warmth the fireplace provides. But this original utilitarian function has morphed into one of the most beloved aspects of French country kitchens.
A fireplace in the kitchen is a luxury most of us do not have.
Here is a great decorating idea, frequently used by designers - you can create the same visual warmth with a fake fireplace mantle set against a wall. Nothing says French country kitchens like a fireplace!
Look for places that sell props for visual merchandisers – they often have items like this. Be warned though – when you find them, these places are addictive – truly decorating ideas unleashed!
Or, you can also go for a real fireplace mantle, just no fire. It is an ideal place to set a collection of old European mugs, maybe a couple of pewter candlesticks, or whatever you might have that works with the room.
The large open kitchen, dining and family room, so popular in homes built over the last 20 years, owes much of its inspiration to this original French country design concept.
Today the French country kitchen is the very heart of country French decor, and the contemporary “great room” embraces the most endearing characteristics of the original French country kitchens. It is the gathering place of choice for shared food preparation, lively conversation and good eating!
What? No such room in your house?
Does having more than four in your kitchen at one time constitute a mob?
Although having the luxury of a large kitchen is wonderful, you can still get that casual ambiance simply by substituting a plain, wooden farmhouse style table (look at country auctions for great buys on these) for your contemporary one.
French country kitchens were lived in, and the addition of a simple wooden table will set the mood.
Many of these rural kitchen tables had side drop-down leaves, making them easy to tuck into the dining “nook” so popular in today’s newer homes, yet still be expandable when company drops in unexpectedly.
Use lightweight, casual chairs with this type of table. They take up less “visual” space, and are easy to tuck out of the way under the table when not being used.
Bentwood or wicker café chairs are ideal and great buys on these can often be found at import stores. (an added advantage of having a selection of lightweight chairs is that they can easily be move wherever you might need them, like maybe a lawn party!)
Café curtains or window shutters can also add to the country French kitchen flavor. If you have enough counter space, place a few interesting jars, bottles, or a pot of herbs, etc. It’s the small touches that create the “look”.
Flooring and countertops can really help define the French country kitchen mood.
Flagstone, brick or tile will all give you that rural country French look. If real tile or stone is not practical, today there is laminate flooring that comes in 6" and 12" “tiles” that mimic the look of real stone so well that you need to touch it to tell that it isn’t the real thing.
An added bonus to this approach is that you now have a comfortable, softer surface that will be easier on your feet, legs and back.
If using laminate “tiles”, choose two different but complimentary styles to create a pattern of your choosing. Not only does this create more interest, but it will also help disguise the fact that this is a laminate and create the illusion of real stone. If you take this approach, be sure that only one of the tile patterns has a grout line. You can, of course, also use the same technique with real stone or tile.
This photo is of two different laminate tiles we used in our own kitchen.....
Go for pattern if you don’t want a stone effect.
A checkerboard pattern of black and white is classic French country kitchen and is easily and relatively inexpensively achieved with either real or laminate tile.
Not a fan of black and white? A warmer variation on this same pattern would be to use a rich mocha tile alternating with the black. Although it may sound like an odd combination, it is quite a wonderful marriage, especially if your walls are a light latte shade.
Don’t forget concrete
The recent use of decorative concrete as an interior building element is something that I think could be wonderfully incorporated into French country kitchens.
Concrete can be stained, dyed or painted. Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is worth investigating what is the most appropriate for the use you have in mind.
Concrete dyes and stains can be used to make floors resemble any type of stone or tile effect that you might want.
For countertops, concrete can be stained or dyed to work with your color scheme. And a big bonus with concrete is that it is extremely long wearing and easy to clean (no tiny grout lines).
Depending on your job and your own level of confidence with DIY, you can give this a try yourself, or, if it sounds like a bit much, there are contractors and companies that specialize in interior applications of decorative concrete.
Decorative concrete has the requisite characteristics of practicality and rustic appeal, making it a great choice for French country kitchens.
Let your countertops and backsplash add to the mood
Think of countertops and backsplashes as great flat expanses of surface, just waiting to become part of the decorative ambiance of your French country kitchen.
Backsplashes and countertops in solid shades of rich earthy tones can be picked up by other items in the kitchen. Use these colors in natural stone or marble tiling (even as an accent area) and they will add French country flavor with a touch of elegance.
Simple geometric patterns work well in French country kitchens. Unless you are going for a “tile scenic”, the classic diamonds, squares, and/or lattice grids will blend more harmoniously than overly busy patterns..
A smaller checkerboard pattern in your choice of color combinations can be very effective if your French country kitchen is really small – but be careful, you want to avoid a “fussy” look.
If your taste runs to the bit more ghoulish . . . . . .
One of my favorites are the tile reproductions of old European (often Dutch) “fruits of the hunt” scenes. These are wonderful tiles, usually in blue and white, depicting the day’s “trophies”.
Dead rabbits, pheasant and other countryside prizes are shown in a classic “hanging in the larder” scene. Although a bit too graphic for some tastes, hunting was a part of daily rural life in the French countryside, and their artwork portrayed their lives.
These “tile scenics” include a number of picture tiles that together depict the scene, with usually some solid color tiles to frame it. They are perfect for a backdrop behind a stove, or as a focal point on wall.
I have to admit that I love these, (even though I can’t imagine shooting a bird or a bunny). Perhaps a bit gruesome for some, but they do create a very “old European” feel to French country kitchens as nothing else can.
Last thought about tiles (at least for the moment)
Any type of tiles are wonderful when incorporated into the actual workspace of French country kitchens. But if flooring or countertops are impractical, an easy French country decorating idea is to create a 4, 6 or 8 tile “wall piece”.
Use colors you love, a particular pattern or combination. The only limit here is your own imagination. Give it a simple pine frame, making it casual and in keeping with the rustic countryside atmosphere.
French country kitchens – ok so you have a good start with the basic room, your floor, countertops and some wall color – that cake is baked, time for the frosting!
Now, we need some
country French kitchen unleashed decorating ideas
to go with that cool floor and countertop!
return from French Country Kitchens, Texture, Color & Warmth to Art Decorating Ideas, Unleashed!
FRENCH COUNTRY HOME DECOR LINKS:
French Country Home Decor - a Way of Life
French Country Furniture - Mix & Match
Country French Kitchens - It's the Spice that Gives it Flavor
Country French Decor for the Bath - Creating a Private Retreat