If you’re looking for one of the more relaxed interior design style, look no further than Country French. Formality is out the door when it comes to Country French. Whereas French Provincial is completely reverse, with it’s foundation firmly recognized by it’s formality.
The beauty of Country French is it’s nearly whimsical treatment of other French decorating styles. Stripping their formality by incorporating things that normally would not be permitted with traditional elegant French. Rustic wood plank flooring and rustic stone, which you’d never see with French Provincial, are but one of the mainstays of Country French decor.
It’s almost as if Cottage Style and Farmhouse Style were combined with a formal French style…….you’ll end up with Country French. It was initially named for the homes that were outside of metropolitan cities and quite often were second homes in the french countryside of people who’s main home was in the city.
There is a warm bright cozy feeling you get from Country French that isn’t present in many other design styles. It has a touch of nature and country mixed in. Your color palate should include yellows and blues with an abundance of florals. When deciding on colors, keep in mind Country French embraces the rustic and antique, as so should the colors you decide on. Despite the fact that brighter more primary colors were used back when the French countryside started this form of interior design…… over the years those colors have slowly muted and aged to what we now try to recreate in our fabric and paints.
Stuccoed/plastered walls that have been hand trolled, to give an irregular appearance can be colored with a soft muted tone to give warmth and texture to any room.
When doing your window treatments, try and find classic lace and fringe for that romantic aged effect. Accent whatever window trim you have in white to give contrast between your wall coloring. White trim also “frames in” whatever you decide on for your window treatments, giving them more of a “picture” on the wall effect as oppose to just a bland window with curtains. Be imaginative…… draped lace across the top that hangs down on the sides of your window, while very simple to do, can be a great way to bring attention to the rooms light source.
Flooring can be any number of things, but irregular wide plank hardwood is the ultimate in creating a natural French Country look. One of the more innovative floors I’ve come across, that was in used in a newly built rustic French cottage, involved old used 14″ wide scaffolding planks. After installing them, the contractor lightly sanded them, to take off the rough edges, then he applied a sealant and then a heavy wax that he used a buffing wheel on. The effect was the most gorgeous aged flooring I’ve ever seen. Due to the fact the planks had been used so often and accumulated the expected wear and tear you’d expect from such materials, they also gave a attractive old world look that would be next to impossible to accomplish with new materials. In another room, in the same home the owner made the decision she wanted a lighter look. To accomplish that look, she had the same flooring put in. But this time before the sealant was applied, a slight ragged white wash was irregularly wiped on and left to dry then the wax and buffing gave the same appearance of an old cottage that over a hundred years ago had white flooring. Experimenting with small sections can help you discover the best level and state of age and distressing you like.
Now that you have the walls and flooring where you want them to be, it’s time to take into account your furnishings. Antiques, antiques and more antiques. Furniture that has seen the test of time with pastel colors that displays chipping or organic wear marks. Antique iron beds were a mainstay in Country French decor and one we copied heavily back in the 1800’s in this country. Many of the designs that the small independently owned foundries of the Pittsburgh steel mill area used, were styles being introduced to this country on boats from France. Iron beds were used in the French country side for a number of sensible reasons. They raised the occupant away from the drafty floors that were frequent and part and parcel in the old cottages. That elevation also served a more pedestrian function of keeping the occupant way from rodents that were also a actuality of the times. Iron beds enabled the owners to conquer these two negative issues with beautiful style and grace. The iron was also not subject to termites or other wood eating insects people were involved with back then. Usually the finishes used on iron beds back then integrated slight gold gilded castings that over a long period of time , due to a natural chemical change in the paint mixture, would darken and slightly wear off. If the bed doesn’t have it’s authentic finish or some old one that works for your setting, sandblasting and generating the finish you desire can easily be achieved.
This is but the tip of the iceberg when creating a Country French atmosphere. Calm rustic elegance…….. remember that and you can’t go wrong.
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