When you look up the definition of “picturesque,” we imagine there’s a photo of a classic countryside cottage off the coast of France — no caption necessary. This look is incredibly romantic, cozy, and historic, just like Iris’ home in The Holiday (we know, we know — she lives in the English countryside, but you get the picture).
Fortunately, French country decor is incredibly easy to channel stateside with a little design know-how and an abundance of reclaimed wood furniture. Plus, the design style is incredibly classic or, in other words, well worth the time, money, and effort. And while forever in style, it’s certainly a trending look – from woven totes filled with farmer’s market goods and effortless linen textures to vases overflowing with hydrangeas, your feed is likely flooded with Provence-inspired home moments.
But first, let’s start with the basics:
What Is French Country Decor?
Not to be overly literal, but French country style is a design aesthetic inspired by homes in and along the French countryside. Broken down from a design perspective, these cottage-esque abodes are primarily traditional and classic, with a cozy rustic edge. If our reference to The Holiday doesn’t quite click, the Irish cottage from P.S. I Love You or Charlotte York’s Upper East Side apartment from Sex and the City are also good examples. Replete with reclaimed wood, natural elements, soft colors, traditional patterns, romantic lighting, ornate woodwork, and classic furniture, this look is in a word, timeless.
Now, for the fun part: how to bring French country decor into your home, whether you live in the bonafide countryside or a West Coast Cottage. Ahead, Havenly designer Kelsey Fischer shares her nine pro tips:
Tip 1: Layer Textures
As mentioned above, this look is all about texture. From raw materials like stone, wood, and brick to jute, linen, and rattan decor, visceral texture is what creates that French antique style.
Tip 3: Highlight Traditional Furniture & Upholstery
From wall paneling to furniture style, the foundation of this look is traditional. Select classic furniture pieces with clean silhouettes, like a cozy striped upholstered chair framed by an ornate fireplace and French doors.
Tip 4: Lean Into Stone
If you’re lucky enough to have raw stone in your home, let it shine in all its rustic, country glory. Don’t cover up your stone fireplace and lean into stone features in your home, from flooring to walls.
Tip 5: Go All-Out With Wall Paneling
From classic board and batten to bead board and picture moulding and shiplap, French country decor sings when paired with liberal, intricate woodwork. Consider adding moulding to your main bedroom, living space, dining room, or yes, even the chicest of powder rooms.
Tip 6: Embrace All Wood Everything
Play up wood tones in both your accent furniture and architectural features, including wall or ceiling paneling, exposed beams, or wood trim. Including a mix of wood furniture, from whitewashed and driftwood-hued to black stain and raw walnut.
Tip 7: Select Romantic Lighting
Nothing sets an ambiance quite like lighting, and this is particularly important with the French country look. Create romantic mood lighting with rustic chandeliers, pendant lights, sconces, lamps, and of course candlelight.
Tip 8: Add in Discovered Pieces
To keep this look from leaning too traditional, rustic accents are essential. Whether it’s a table, console, nightstand, lighting, or vintage artwork, pull in pieces that give your space a lived-in, collected feel.
Tip 9: Mix Warm Wood & Black Accents
Cut your more traditional, warm-wood pieces with black accents for a modern edge. In the above bedroom, the traditional burl wood dresser and warm wood flooring contrast against the sculptural black chair and luggage rack.
Tip 10. Showcase Artisan Pottery
There’s nothing more French country than perfectly imperfect, handmade pottery. Put your collection on display in a modern curio cabinet, and pepper in vintage artwork, hand-me-down books, and fresh blooms.
Tip 11. Thrift vintage artwork
The vintage artwork trend pairs beautifully with the French country aesthetic. Balance out more modern, understated elements (like a clean jute rug and a custom stove hood) with ornate artwork, ideally sourced from your local antique store.
Tip 12. Don't sleep on plaid
A subtle pop of plaid — key word being subtle — is a great way to check the “country” box without leaning too farmhouse. Add a neutral plaid quilt to the end of your bed or outfit your dining chairs in soft plaid seat cushions.
Tip 13. Decorate Each Room With Fresh Flowers
A country house becomes a country home when fresh flowers adorn every room. Of course, foraged flowers plucked from your country backyard are ideal, but we’re big fans of a quick Trader Joe’s floral haul (particularly hydrangeas).
Tip 14: Incorporate Wicker Accents
Wicker screams country, but sculptural silhouettes lean French — making unique pieces like these pendant lights the perfect French country accent. Whether it’s a woven vase or a rattan lamp shade, go wild with wicker accents in modern shapes and natural finishes.
Tip 15: Finish With a Hint of French Blue
While the French country look leans neutral and minimalist when it comes to color, we can’t help but love a splash of rich French blue. Pair it with gold accents, vintage artwork, and a floral quilt to nail the country house vibe.
Tip 16: Mix Modern and Rustic
It’s the mix of rustic woods and more modern finishes, like this farmhouse dining chair and French bistro style chairs with a brass-embellished lapiz chandelier that gives the French country aesthetic new life. And allows it to work in more urban settings with authenticity. Bonus points for artwork that nods to your dream Parisian pied-à-terre.
Whether it’s finding *THE* perfect French country decor or unlocking the best floor plan for your space, our designers are standing by to help you create a home you love. Check out our designer’s portfolios to find your dream match.