Although French country living rooms are casual, comfortable and designed for daily living, there is still an understated elegance that is ever so French.
It is no surprise that emphasis is placed on comfort and relaxation - after all, it was the French who first invented comfortable upholstered chairs in the 18th century, thereby introducing the concept of a comfortable room for relaxation.
Designed to harmonize with its outside surroundings, Country French living rooms often have French doors opening directly onto the garden, creating a flow between inside and outside.
Living room colors compliment and harmonize with the garden or landscape, therefore color inspiration will be drawn from the outside view.
The far northern regions of France are much cooler, having different landscapes and play of natural light from the northern skies compared to the south, resulting in the use of paler colors - in complete contrast to the rich and vibrant colors of warm and sunny Provence, as in the example below of French Country living rooms in the south of France.
Creating the Look
Furniture for the French Country living room is usually carefully chosen and gently worn antiques are mixed with modern pieces. Example would be an occasional upholsered antique chair or two mixed with a large and comfy sofa. The chair frames could be polished wood, stained or painted.
There may not be many pieces of furniture, but most often there will be at least one very large piece like an armoire, either polished, stained or painted. Perhaps also a bookcase, bureau or buffet, and at least one table with a straight back chair to sit at. Completing the furniture would be a low table or ottoman for refreshments and magazines.
Soft Funishings in the form of a boutis or quilt to partly drape, or even cover the sofa. Squashy cushions which can be kneaded into shape for comfort and beckon one to sit.
Wall decor doesn't usually have geometric groupings of pictures, but rather one large picture, or maybe a pair, making a subtle statement and normally hung close to a piece of furniture making a group of the whole.
Mirrors on the other hand are not so subtle and can be placed anywhere in the room, in any size or shape, ornate or plain, gilded or with painted frames, reflecting the outside light into the room.
Lighting in the form of simple table or standing lamps and probably a wrought iron chandelier or candelabra, either black in color or a warm shade of antique white.
Accessories would be one or two items which have lost their usefulness but can be admired as decorative objects, as well as books, pottery, candles, flowers, either potted or cut, and interesting objects made from natural materials.
Floors in the Country French living room are of a natural substance like wood - perhaps parquet - stone flags, terracotta tiles, or perhaps colored cement made to look like patterned tiles. For warmth and texture the floor will be scattered with rugs, old, new or a mixture of both, plain or patterned.
Wall to wall carpets are not common, but if so, it is of a natural material like coir or sisal.
Photo: Art & Décoration
In this French Country living room we see how a modern sofa is mixed with antique pieces and collectibles. Note the group old wrought iron finials on the fireplace. The French hardly ever discard anything and when an object is no longer used for its original function it will become an accessory to be admired for its crastmanship or beauty.
Cover a good, solid and comfortable couch or setee in an inexpensive slipcover or use a throw which will have a far more relaxed feel than fitted upholstery.
Use faded looking fabric, an old quilt or even old French sheets as a throw.
Hanging one or two wrought iron wall candelabras and placing one on the coffee table, complete with candles, will give an instant French feel.
Placing bunches of fresh flowers in pitchers adds an instant French Country look
If the room has relatively few items of furniture but includes large pieces like armoires or tall bookcases, make sure the sofa is large enough to balance the room.