Do you love French style? Implement these 10 design elements of French style in your home to achieve this dreamy and charming look.
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I have long been a lover of French design, ever since admiring the French Provincial furniture pieces in my grandmothers home as little girl. I love to add small touches of this charming style into my home when I can.
I’m excited to share with you an amazing resource for French style inspiration. A masterpiece of a book created by my dear friend Courtney, blogger at French Country Cottage.
I soaked in every beautiful page of this book, and I particularly loved the sections where she spoke of specific French Country Cottage design elements. I know seeing perfectly curated images of homes or specific styles can leave you feeling overwhelmed on how to even begin implementing that style in your own home and spaces. Breaking down these elements into manageable pieces can help guide you to lasting purchases and collections that will aid you in creating your own curated French style.
Often times our own unique homes can be a mix of styles that we love – such is the case in my house. I like to define my style as a mix between a Farmhouse in France and a Cottage on the Coast, but sum it up as “Cottage Romance“.
As I’ve studied and been inspired by French style for years, I too have found there are common elements of design for that charming look. I’d like to go through 10 design elements of French style I’ve used in my own home, and many of which Courtney also addresses in her new book with her own beautiful captures.
Be sure to snag your own copy of French Country Cottage and curl up on the couch for pages and pages of limitless inspiration!
Whether you choose to infuse many or few of these French design elements, adding some into each space is a sure fire way to get that French charm into your home.
Patina is the unique evidence of age and years gone by. It’s a treasure if you can find authentic pieces to bring that coveted patina into your home, but sometimes you can fake it well enough. I look at antique stores, classifieds and flea markets for these unique pieces.
The marble top coffee table as seen in my how to naturally clean slipcovers post is a piece I treasure.
The marble is darkened and stained in spots, and I love that! The white chippy paint on the deliciously curvy legs is all authentic and wonderful. It’s a heavy beast to move, but it will be with me until my dying day.
I also love this rickety and chippy blue bench and use it all over my home.
I do seal the chippy paint with a non-yellowing poly-coat, so that I can preserve the look just as it is. But when you find something that is chippy and old due to years of paint layers and weather, you know it is near impossible to try to duplicate that exact look.
Although, you can certainly try . . . which is what I did to this genuinely antique German Sleigh bed when I painted it.
I would have loved it in natural wood colors, but the wood tones were pretty bad and beyond saving. Painting and chipping it was a great option and I love the results as I tried to create my own patina. It helped that it was dented and scraped from years of use anyway.
A piece of my heart will always be for linens, especially old linens, pure linen, grain sack linens, frayed linens . . . all fabrics that bring in a bit of French charm.
I pretty much died and went to heaven when I upgraded to 100% pure French linen bedding in the perfect shade of French blue. It couldn’t get any better than that.
Slipcovered furniture in lovely natural colored or worn woven linens is a unique hallmark of French style. Slipcovers are easy to make for chairs and I showed you how in my how to make a cushion slipcover post.
I keep a stash of old linens and even bleach drop cloths to fake the sometimes expensive look.
Using lace in your linens is also a way to bring in a luxurious French style, like my DIY lace throw blanket.
Keep your eye out for linens with French design printed right on them too!
It’s a fun way to bring in more obvious French design.
The French love to use mixed metals in their decor, and the older the better. Many of the authentic furniture pieces are laced with gold and other metals in the intricate details.
I played around with aging metals and thought I did a pretty good job faking the look of aged silver on this candelabra.
Finding metal pieces with loads of patina can either be an expense or a pass of luck. When my hubs came home with a bag full of old copper pots from the garbage at his work, I knew I had a lucky day!
I adore the corrosion in this galvanized bucket that had been in our backyard for years.
Moral of the story – hold tight to all that rusted metal!
Sometimes I feel true French design is the exact opposite of modern design. The older the better in this case, and coming across an antique with French charm is a treasure. Nothing could hold me back from this piece of art with a gold frame that was calling my name at an Antique store.
It has rips, tears and stains and I love each one.
Antique wood is also great to bring in if you desire French style. We don’t have the luxury of having an authentically old piece of raw wood furniture, but we can decorate with old wood in other forms, like Antique cutting boards. We actually made these out of old wood, and I have 10 patterns for you if you happen upon a stash of old worn wood.
Antique jars and glass can also bring in a small touch of French style in your home.
As proven in the pages of French Country Cottage, flowers are key to that romantic French style.
Flowers can appear in delicate florals in fabrics, such as this linen bedding in my girls room.
Or you can make your own arrangements in treasured buckets or vases.
Courtney talks about letting those flowers dry and wilt before you toss them is part of the French charm.
CURVES and DETAIL
French style can also be defined as feminine, evident in the curves and intricate detail in periodic pieces.
Our mantel headboard takes on a French style, just by adding some intricate wood detail.
French provincial pieces are known for their curvy, “sexy” legs.
Or sometimes the curves are mixed in with bolder harsh lines, to add the perfect balance of French style.
I do adore any furniture with those lovely curves!
Lighting is a huge element when it comes to French design. You will again run into curvy light fixtures, and typically laced with jewels and crystals.
I have yet to come across an authentically old chandelier I wanted to afford, but always keep my eye out for a steal!
In this case, books used in decor tell more of story than you might find in it’s pages.
You can remove covers on thrifted books and place around your home for instant French charm.
Or start your collection now for authentically old and worn books.
Mirrors with delicate and intricate designs are a form of French art in itself.
These are readily available these days, new or old, but I recommend hunting them down at thrift stores to pay a fraction of the price.
The bigger the better!
Perhaps my favorite aspect of French design is the curated look it can bring. A well designed space is not matchy-matchy, rather appears as a collected home that took shape over time. This is good news for all of us! Gone are the days of spending a months wage on a matching bedroom set. Rather, set out to find unique individual pieces and bring them together with many of these 10 design elements.
Our French Farmhouse kitchen is a good example of this. Thrifted stools, and picked up pieces of dinnerware come together perfectly under a neutral palette.
A curated look is also a well known signature of country or cottage style, which allows me to introduce subtle touches of French decor to bring it all together.
Now let’s chat! Let me know in the comments below what style is your favorite and if you like to bring in some French design as well. Do you have a treasured piece or memories of one that you would like to share? What do you do to achieve French style in your home? I’d love to hear!
Now go and snag your own coffee table book, French Country Cottage, and flip through it’s pages whenever you are in need of a feast of inspiration!
Congrats on the incredible book Courtney! It’s a beauty!
Fontaine Boutwell says
Like your style…My family is from France so I grew up around what I felt was old world elegance, it was just what is now called French decorating. I have two hundred year old french furniture that has been in the family. It is empire and a dark wood. I use a lot of light fabrics to create contrast as I want to accent the carved furniture.
nice article. I saw lots of informative information here. Really love this site and picture. Great job and go ahead.
Well, i have a little bit of french farm and cottage. I like the curves and language of french, simplicity of cottage and animals of farm, sheep and cows. Thank you for these ideas they just might help me decide what i am besides, crazy,lol!!
Great tips for bringing all together, what to look for in a piece that your looking at for any room.
This is great information. Coastal cottage! Please do a tip sheet on that style.
Goodness I love this! It looks welcoming, homey, and you just want to sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea, your dog (I have a little yorkie) on your lap and savor each page in this book and dream! Thank you so much!
Excellent and informative post Cami. Thanks so much!
Thanks for this post! You helped me realize how much I love French cottage design and have it throughout my home.