How to Create a French Country Home

Of all the places I’ve traveled, it still surprises me that French style is what I’ve gravitated towards most, in decorating my home.  And French country style, to be specific ~ which can be either formal, or very relaxed…depending how you style it.  Even in my garden: I’ve taken much inspiration from French country gardens, which combines more formal elements with a slightly rough-around-the-edges feel.  Whether going casual or high-end, here we’ll learn how to create a French country home…on any budget.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travel the World

This is Joanna Gaines’ take on French country: with some traditional farmhouse touches. Photo by HGTV.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

And this is MY take on French country: TOtally different & a lot bolder, with some big pops of color…

Hallmarks of French Country Style

  • There are three signature hallmarks to French country style: 1) Plentiful use of wood & other natural materials; 2) Softly-patterned fabrics in mainly muted colors; & 3) Some element of distressed, vintage, or antique furnishings & accessories. 
  • The typical French country color palette is similar to Shabby Chic’s ~ with lots of muted tones, pastels, creams, & whites. This doesn’t mean you can’t use color.  In fact, I find that pops of color really stand out against the more muted French style. 
  • Typical colors used in a French country home are blues, all kinds of blues: from light, fresh & happy hues to more mysterious greyish-blues (the paint color “Provence Blue” is an example of this lovely tone, & can be seen in my hutch below).  Even darker navy tones can work if you want to take the look to a slightly more nautical or masculine place. Other colors used include creams, whites, rustic woods (typically lighter woods), light pinks, occasionally hot pink, all manner of grey tones, & even greens: from lime to more “garden green” ~ that work especially well in sunrooms & “She Sheds.”
  • Typical prints used in French country style are toile (used as wallpaper or for furniture, & which uses repeating patterns of pastoral scenes), stripes ~ with blue & white the most popular, & even floral prints.
  • The overall feel of French country style is elegant, yet relaxed: there’s no need to match everything perfectly here. In my opinion, the best French styles have a slightly “undone,” loose quality to them. 
  • For a more casual French look: you’ll want to include some quirky elements, such as favorite antiques, a burlap sack used as storage or for decoration, or a metal tin filled with flowers. At a more casual French dining table: you’ll definitely find mis-matched chairs!  You might have a wood bench on one side, then an assortment of chairs ~ some that match, & some that don’t. This is a crucial part of a more casual, “thrown-together” French feel.
  • In a more formal French look, you’ll want to do the opposite ~ having furnishings & chairs match, as in Joanna Gaines’ dining room look (found in photos below).  All her dining chairs are the same, & upholstered with the same fabric: creating a more cohesive look…the opposite of quirky.  Also important in a more formal style is to have at least one French-styled chandelier, which elevates the entire look.  You also don’t need as many knick-knacks in a formal style: this keeps the look more elegant & spare.
  • Furniture in a French country home has more curves than a traditional or modern home: as in classic, French-styled dining chairs, which have rounded backs & a more feminine feel. Couches also have rounded, more opulent-looking edges, & nothing says French country more than a lightly-distressed, round wood dining table. Even end tables, instead of being square, will be round & softer-looking in the French style.
  • Though this style leans more towards the feminine, to make it more masculine: simply add a few darker colors or some black accents ~ & remove any excess, to keep the look cleaner.
  • And finally, to take your French country look out into the garden ~ think pea gravel, beautiful tiered fountains, the use of geometric shapes (i.e. rectangular garden beds next to rounded wine barrels, or a round fire pit), trees or boxwood planted in rows, & a more muted color palette for flowers.
How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Gardens

This is a custom hutch I had built, & the muted colors here are classic French country, right down to the “Provence Blue” used for the bottom cabinets.

A Few Ways to Add French Country Decor…

A few simple things to add a flair of French country style to your home:

  • Buy a couple of rustic antique corbels & use them for decorative effect up high ~ or to hold up a bookshelf or bar-top;
  • Get a “Fresh Flowers” or “Farmhouse” sign, & display it in your home or garden;
  • Change out boring pantry doors for custom, French Oak doors ~ which may cost a pretty penny, but will change your entire kitchen’s look & feel, adding a sense of age & time;
  • Buy a fountain & place it where you can see it from inside the home….this is one of the best things I’ve done for my home & garden, as it creates such a soft & romantic feel right off the master bedroom. 
  • Find a chandelier that suits your taste, & replace an old light fixture with it; Amazon has a huge selection, & many are less than $200. 
  • Bring lavender flowers (artificial or real), hydrangeas, delphiniums, or other soft, pastel-colored flowers into your home ~ & display them in slightly distressed, rustic vases
  • Buy a more muted rug, perhaps in cream & blue tones, to bring in that more subtle, French color palette.
How to Create French Country Style, Girl Who Gardens

“Flower Market” signs & totes (with lavender) are a simple, inexpensive way to bring French style to your home. They help add those personal, rustic touches.

French Country Chandelier

French Country Cottage

French Chairs

Photos of French Country Homes

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

This gorgeous farmhouse kitchen with the inviting, open window is classic French country, right down to the soft pink flowers & checkered towel. Photo by Hello Lovely.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

This sunroom’s muted palette, ornate chandelier, & blue hydrangeas give it a refined yet relaxed French country feel.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

This style can be a little rough around the edges: like this lightly-distressed coffee table. Photo by French Country Cottage.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

I love the eclectic scene here: from decorative plates displayed in a wall-hutch, to the beautifully feminine place settings. Photo by Hello Lovely.

How to Create a French Country Bathroom, Girl Who Gardens

The ornate mirror, soft pink flowers, & distressed wood table create a lovely French-inspired bathroom. Photo by French Country Cottage.

How to Create a French Country Dining Room, Girl Who Travels the World

This is another Joanna Gaines creation: her take on a French country dining room. What makes this room more formal is the use of matching chairs ~ for a more eclectic look, mix it up with different chairs. Photo courtesy of HGTV.

How to Create a French Country Dining Room, Girl Who Travels the World

A totally different take on dining: more rustic & relaxed, with a distressed table, & rounded chairs with a floral fabric. Photo by Jaimee Itagaki.

How to Create a Rustic French Country Home, Girl Who Gardens

I love this more masculine take on French country: the flowers, candelabras, soft throw, & muted couch keep it feminine ~ while the wood-panelled walls & wrought-iron chandelier bring a stronger, more rustic feel. Photo by Gray Walker Interiors.

How to Create a French Country Dining Room, Girl Who Travels the World

Another beautiful scene here ~ which could also be called “Shabby Chic.” Lavender bursts from a tin, the table is slightly distressed, & the beautiful white hutch comes together for a loose & relaxed feel. Photo by Karen B. Wold.

How to Create a French Country Bedroom, Girl Who Gardens

The toile wallpaper & monochromatic coloring help make this a Traditional + French country bedroom. Photo by Thomas Guy Interiors.

How to Create a French Country Bedroom, Girl Who Gardens

The French use limestone-washed stone walls to great effect: as in this elegant bedroom.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World

I LOVE everything about this sunroom. There’s a very relaxed, “undone” look here, which is hard to achieve ~ but beautiful when well-executed.

How to Create a French Country She Shed, Girl Who Travels the World

This was the *inspiration* photo for my “She Shed” ~ I adore everything here, & even painted two walls of my shed this gorgeous botanical green color. Photo of Susanne Hudson’s “She Shed.”

How to Create a French Country She Shed, Amazing She Shed Interiors, GIrl Who Travels the World

Blue is the most popular color used in French country decor, & this “She Shed’s” light blue hue is near-perfect.

How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Gardens

It doesn’t get better than this French country exterior. Again, shutters are painted that perfect light-blue: & the pink hydrangeas + climbing vines help create that romantic South of France feel. Photo by Hello Lovely Studios.

Shop for French Country Pieces on Amazon

Somehow, I’ve furnished many of my French-styled pieces from Amazon, which was unexpected.  This rectangular dining table is simple & straightforward ~ & fits many design styles, not just French country.  These dining chairs, with their lightly-distressed wood, reflect the relaxed French ethos.  And high bar stools are my favorite purchase: they’re extremely comfortable, & their elegant look elevates the entire room. 

And of course, I love my fountain

Tiered Fountain

Farm-House Table 

French Bar Stools

How to Create a French Country Home

I hope you’ve gathered much inspiration towards creating your own French country home & garden paradise….

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Create a Joanna Gaines-Worthy Garden

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How to Create a French Country Home, Girl Who Travels the World