The French Country Bathroom...
Perhaps the charm of a French country bathroom is due to the fact that the French consider it to be another important room in the house which just happens to have a bath in it, therefore it is decorated and treated in the same delightful way as the rest of the house.
Being a room to pamper oneself, décor elements are chosen more for their beauty and aesthetic appeal as opposed to their practicality. Whether or not they are affected by steam or moisture wouldn't matter - for what looks or feels good is more important.
Take the walls as an example, just like any other important room in the house they must look attractive, so instead of the French using mirrors or pictures designed for steam durability,
they will rather choose what works best décor wise, regardless of the medium or frame used.
Curtains too are chosen for charm and not mildew resistance.
It is not unusual to see the following items in a Country French bathroom:
- A small comfy settee or upholstered chair
- Decorative framed pictures on the walls
- A small wrought iron table
- Glass vases filled with sweet scented flowers
- Huge ornate mirrors
- Tall standing wrought iron candelabras
- Wrought iron or twisted wire holders and baskets
The French are not a 'throw away' nation and have perfected the art of re-purposing. This can clearly be seen in French Country bathrooms where pieces, originally designed for another function in the home, are now pressed into service in the bathroom - or where items are re-invented to adjust to modern living.
Washstands with either stone or wooden tops, are converted to accommodate modern plumbing, with a basin either inset or positioned on top of the stand.
The bottom section may have open shelves for storage and there could also be a rail on the sides to hold hand towels.
Wrought iron washstands are another alternative to wooden and stone-topped stands.
For the French it is a natural step to take an old washstand, previously used to hold an enamel or china basin and pitcher for washing, and to repurpose it rather than replacing with a modern vanity basin.
For hundreds of years, before modern day bathrooms, a basin and ewer along with a portable bath were kept in the bedroom for ablutions. Nowadays it is not uncommon for the bathroom to be part of the bedroom itself, which may or may not be screened off with a low wall or some sort of partition like a folding screen.
Separate showers have never played an important role in the French bathroom and therefore focus is more on the bath - which incidentally is most likely to be a free standing roll top - doubling up as the shower area. If shower curtains surround the bath, perish the thought of plastic curtains being on view. Instead it is common practice to have an unseen waterproof lining which hangs inside the bath, with light cotton or muslin curtains hanging outside the bath.
Wall colors are usually pale, or light and fresh, reminding one of cool water and clear skies - although it is not uncommon to see ochre washed walls. Pattern will generally be found in the glazed and colored terracotta-based bathroom tiles, with geometric and monochromatic motifs, as fabrics and towels are usually a solid white or off-white.
The nostalgic mood of a French Country bathroom will transport you back in time to when life was simple, predictable and stress free - a perfect place for escape, to unwind and rejuvenate a tired body and mind.
Creating the Look for a French Country Bathroom
- Free standing bath
- Free standing vanity basin with open shelves for storage of towels etc.
- Small wrought iron or marble-topped tables
- Colors predominantly white, with pale light blue or grey, but could also be the warmer ochre shades
- Soft and delicate white curtains to create a subtle diffused light
- Thick and luxurious white towels
- Wrought iron items
- Glass bottles and jars
- Folding free standing towel racks
- Vases filled with lavender or any sweet smelling garden flowers
- Large mirrors
- Terracotta or stone floor
Do not be discouraged if you cannot have a free standing bath and vanity basin, or a stone floor. By implementing a few of the abovementioned items you will still create the nostalgic and romantic mood of a French bathroom.
You might also like these elements of French Country Decor: