French Country Decor...
How to Capture the Look and Feel

French Country decor has its own unique charm, often derived from the unexpected mix of furniture from different periods in history, coupled with functional items and other decorative aspects that you wouldn't normally expect to see grouped together. It is this element of surprise that gives it that air of Je ne sais quoi, setting it apart from other country styles.

It is a natural style based on a simplistic lifestyle built on traditions, which over time has evolved into a simple yet elegant style.

french country decor

It is only in recent years that the beauty of this unique style - with its melting pot of traditions and simplistic decor mixed with comfort, elegance, old world charm and a dash of the unexpected - has caught the attention of interior designers.

The look and feel of this relaxed and casual form of decorating also translates well into modern interiors. It can be rustic and functional or refined and elegant, but rustic and functional does not mean short on comfort and style.

There are many factors that make up the style as a whole which cannot be defined in a short paragraph or two.

So where do we begin to implement some of this natural charm and style into our home? To begin we can look to the French for inspiration.

The Way of the French

We all know the French are masters of style and elegance; therefore it is no surprise that French Country home decor, although simple and casual, is both elegant and stylish.

The French seem to be born with 'style genes', for the way they combine their eye for beauty with comfort and elegance is simply a natural thing for them to do. They also have an incredible knack of being able to find a hidden value in anything and have mastered the art of finding a use that was not the original intent for something, whether it be funtional or decorative.

They love possessing beautiful and interesting items, whether old or new - purely because they appreciate the craftsmanship, beauty and charm of the item rather than being acquisitive.

Mixing and matching furniture and objets d'art in a relaxed and casual manner - which they artfully arrange with absolutely no effort - is what they do best.

Furniture too is not restricted to any particular room in the house and will be moved around and be repurposed wherever its function is needed at the time.

So how do they pull it all together?

The French are extremely individualistic and free thinking. They do not allow interior decorating rules, dictums and the fashion trends of the world to dictate their expression of style. They simply decorate using their five senses and the basic rule of harmony, scale and balance, and above all, keep it simple. If the arrangement feels right, then it is right, period.

Creating the Look

The heart of French country decorating is based on what feels right and pleases the eye as opposed to following decorating rules. There is no wrong or right in the manner of how functional items and furniture are combined with other elements in the room - as long as the mood spells warmth and comfort and colors don't shout at each other.

Create contrast by mixing old with new and even different fabric prints together like checks and florals. Just keep a common thread, or binding factor, like color or neutral background for harmony.

Remember harmony, scale and balance which is the basic principle of French Country d├ęcor, pulling all the various elements of the style together and creating a balanced and pleasing look.

Create light and airy spaces and don't clutter.

Mixing old with new and placing the unexpected with the norm is what makes the magic happen and gives the style its charm, so don't be afraid to experiment. Try also to mix opposites, like functional with refined, for visual impact. A good example can be found in the image on this page.

Age is of no importance with French decor, so it doesn't matter whether you use an item that is brand new, antique, or even a flea market find - as long as it has character, visual appeal and can be used in the home in a relaxed and functional way.

Some real treasures can be found at flea markets. Remember to look deeper, beyond the surface and the original intent to find a hidden value that can be used for something else. For me personally, this is what puts the charm into French Country and attracts me to the style, nothing is as it seems on the surface for their is always a hidden layer.

French Country decor could either be simple cottage, homely farmhouse, or more refined and stately country manor style. Whichever variation you choose will weave the same thread of old world French Country charm into your decor, exuding a relaxed and elegant ambience.

If you need some help to get started you may like to try these 7 easy steps showing how to introduce Country French decorating into your home.

Books to inspire from Amazon:

You may also like:

If you can't picture what your room or space would look like, how about creating a mood board to help you visualise and plan?

Create rooms that are inviting using things you love and these French decorating tips from

If you enjoy hunting for treasures, visit Jennifer's site and be inspired by these cottage style decorating ideas using flea market finds.

Otherwise, if you like French Country Cottage decorating it may interest you to visit Denise at Cottage Home Decorating for more inspiration.

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