Elements of French Country Interior Design

by Lauren Busser Direct from the Designers™’ Editorial Director

French Country house plans have been a popular design in the United States for many years. It started to emerge in the United States after World War I when soldiers came home from the war and began to build homes inspired by the cottages and manors of the French countryside.

French Country style first emerged while many young affluent families were embracing a formal and genteel lifestyle. The French Country style emerged from a rustic take on furnishings that were popular with the 18th-century courts of Kings Louis the XIII, XVI, XV and XIV. The goal in a French country design is to create an interior that is rustic and yet chic. For this reason, many French Country inspired interior designs combine sophisticated touches with casual fabrics and timeworn patina. It is this sophisticated and yet comfortable blend that makes French Country interior design so popular. Here are a few elements you can incorporate to bring French Country inspired design into your new home.

Toile patterns exist in many forms. This York Wallcoverings® wallpaper is an Asian Scenic Toile and its soft colors fit right into a French Country palette.

York Wallcoverings Asian Scenic Wallpaper

Toile Print

Toile fabric seems to be everywhere now but this fabric has a storied past that makes it perfect for a French Country inspired design. Toile originated from the French town Jouy-en-Josas and is typically referred to as Toile de Jouy (literally translated to cloth from Jouy). Toile de Jouy refers to a design with an off white background and a repeated pattern that depicts a fairly complex scene with a pastoral theme in a single color.

When toile was introduced in the 18th century it was a revolutionary design because of the recent introduction of copper plate printing that allowed artisans to get the fine lines required for the complex scenes. Today toile can be found on anything from upholstery to wallpaper making it a great addition to a French-inspired design.

Go for a little Rococo influence with curved furniture and accent pieces like this living room from LAMPS PLUS®. With lots of curves and gilded accents, these pieces would be perfect in your French Country inspired interior design.

LAMPS PLUS Living Room

Rococo Elements

The sexy, feminine and flamboyant designs of rococo and bombé inspired pieces were all the rage during the reign of Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour. If you are looking for something that has a rococo element then you need to look for its signature element: curves. The skilled furniture makers of the 18th century, known as ébénistes, developed methods that allowed them to shape wood panels and trim into serpentine forms that are still popular today.

This KraftMaid® kitchen is inviting with rich details including solid Cherry and Maple cabinetry in an Onyx glaze.

KraftMaid French Country Kitchen

Distressed Cabinetry

Remember that while elements of French Country design are meant to emulate royalty, there are still rustic details to consider. When shopping for cabinetry or furniture, you might look for distressed painted wood surfaces which really capture the feel. The timeworn look will create a comfortable and inviting appeal to any space.

Custom cabinetry can be placed anywhere in your home, but where the rustic French Country design is particularly popular is in the kitchen. Pair your selected cabinetry with handmade hardware and a marble, granite or butcher block countertop and you will have a stylish kitchen that is sure to please.

This LAMPS PLUS® Dining Room is the picture of opulence. The Laser Cut 24” Wide Silver Leaf Pendant Light provides a captivating silver accent and the Mercury Glass Triple Gourd Table Lamp and Corbett Romeo Polished Nickel 21 ¼” High Wall Sconce make for the perfect accents.

LAMPS PLUS Dining Room

Gold and Silver Accents

If you are looking for the perfect hardware for your French Country inspired home, you should consider going with silver. Historically, France has been both a consumer and producer of silverwares. French aristocrats coveted silver for its utility and inherent value. However, little early French silver remains because Louis XIV and XV decreed that all silver, including the solid silver furnishings at Versailles, be melted down.

Gold is another popular choice, especially in gilded accents. Gilding is the process of covering an object in a thin layer of gold. Ormolu, from the French moulu for ground gold, is a technique used to guild the decorative mounts that cabinetmakers used to embellish exquisitely crafted furnishings and clocks.

If you want to add a little bit of Parisian flare to your window dressings, look at the Parisian Pleat Drapery from smith+noble®. Here, this beautiful drapery is complimented with 2 ½” Poly Shutters and a Wrought Iron Medium Rod Set.

smith+noble Parisian Pleated Drapery

Silk Furnishings

If you are looking for the perfect linens or drapery to complete a French Country inspired room, then silk fabric is the way to go. France is known for silk weaving. The history of silk weaving began in Tours in the 15th century, and by the late 18th century, the production had moved to Lyons where more than one-third of the city’s population was employed in the trade. French consumers were the primary users of the textiles.

Create a warm and inviting bedroom with this Intaglio Damask Wallpaper from York Wallcoverings®.

York Wallcoverings Intaglio Damask

Damask Designs

One of the most popular designs on silk fabric was damask. Much like toile, damask was another popular pattern that the French nobility took to. Damask print dates back to the Middle Ages and was invented by Islamic and Byzantine weavers but the French nobility loved to adorn their home’s walls and furnishings with this beautiful and intricate pattern.

When it comes to designing a French Country home, remember that you want to focus on rich details but keep a familiar and comfortable charm. Pick quality materials, rich accents and intricate designs for certain features, and then keep the rest of your design neutral and timeworn.

Therma Tru Doors For House Plans Online