What are some suggestions for decorating in the French country style?

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Answered by: Melissa, An Expert in the Decor Styles Category
French country style interiors combine informal building materials with soft fabric, softly worn furniture and aged decorative surfaces to recreate the warmth and inviting ambiance found throughout traditional homes in southern France. Interpretations of the French style can vary greatly. Some homes showcase a high end interpretation that includes gold gilding and formal furnishings. Others may choose to connect with a more rural interpretation of the style by focusing on flea market finds and vintage linens. A third version of this well-loved decorating style recreates a cozy, cottage interior.

Elegant Style

Elegant country interiors recreate the romance of living on a country estate by focusing on simple luxury. Trademarks of French country elegance are gold gilded accessories, such as mirrors and picture frames, gold touches on painted wood furniture, floor to ceiling window treatments in plush fabrics and an overall subdued color palette. Accents to this decor are simple and include pillows, fresh flowers and artwork that add warmth, color and interest to the home.

Modern art works particularly well in this interior design, especially when placed in a gilded frame. Wood or stone floors are typically covered in floral patterned area rugs--medallion centers are a common theme--and limestone fireplaces facades are typical. Trademarks are found in unusual places in this elegant interior with floor to ceiling drapes and gilded touches placed in nooks, kitchens and bathrooms.

Farmhouse Style

Farmhouse French country interiors have an appealing rustic look that use the contrast of worn architectural elements and traditional design patterns. Herringbone brick patterns or reclaimed, wide wood plank provide an instant farmhouse appearance when used as flooring. Match either floor with chalky white walls and ceiling and add dark, rough hewn wood ceiling beams to create the perfect stage for the French country farmhouse style. Including a stone facade fireplace in the bedrooms and using cotton fabrics with simple patterns as curtains and seating pads round out the rustic feel. A trademark of this rustic style is the re-purposing of odd items for new uses, such as a wooden crate turned on end as a lamp table or the placement of an exterior light fixture over a kitchen nook.

Cottage Style

French country cottages are a mixture of both rustic and elegant charm and are often labeled cozy. The layering of patterns and color dominate this type of French country style along with the idea of comfort. Fabrics cover not only the furniture but may also be applied to the walls. Color schemes can be applied to each room or one can be chosen for the whole home. Patterns might include various combinations of toile--a printed canvas or muslin fabric, stripes, plaids and small floral designs. A single color palette--for instance, blue and red--can be varied from room to room by using toile and small floral prints in formal areas, plaids and stripes in bedrooms and larger floral fabrics in the kitchen. Floors often have two or more throw rugs, window seats and hard surface chairs are cushioned, tables are draped in one or more tablecloths and the sofa is softly upholstered with the frame hidden.

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