Guide: What is French Country Decor?

What is French country home decor? Mix a little je ne sais quoi with an old farmhouse in Provence and you’re almost there! French country design is a celebration of the rustic and the refined, of old-world charm and simplicity, of comfort and elegance. Here’s an indispensable guide to French country decor.

13 November 2023

When it comes to interior design, just what is French country style? The inspiration behind French country decor draws heavily from the sun-drenched landscapes and simple pastoral life of the countryside in rural France.

It may be something of a cliché but French country farmhouse decor really can make a house feel like a home. Infusing an interior with French country design can transform even the most metropolitan home into a quaint retreat that feels like it’s tucked away in a centuries-old French village surrounded by stone cottages and fields of lavender and lemon trees.

Think weathered, repurposed or upcycled furniture, warm and muted colour palettes, wrought iron, copper cookware, exposed beams and beautifully soft textiles.

But French country decor is not just about what you can see and touch. It’s about evoking a feeling – a nostalgic return to nature and an embrace of the romanticism of rural life. It’s a blend of form and function which marries sophistication with simplicity.

So, whether you’re decking out a countryside manor or just looking to bring a touch of Provence to an urban apartment, understanding the essence of French country farmhouse decor is the key to creating an inviting, warm, and timeless space.

Effortlessly Exquisite, Eclectically Elegant? Mais Oui…

Classic French homely kitchen breakfast room. (Credit: nicolamargaret via Getty Images)

Where home inspiration is concerned, very few questions have a simple – or single – answer, and ‘what is French country style’ is one of them. It’s about a casual relationship with the rules of interior design, about being stylish without being ostentatious, and about putting wrought iron garden tables indoors if you want to.

Fabulous Furniture

A glimpse into a French country style living room. (Credit: Mint Images via Getty Images)

Furniture in homes looking for a classic French country design is a delicate balance of rustic and refined. Mismatched furniture, repurposed or upcycled antiques, and pieces that show age and wear are celebrated in French country farmhouse decor. These pieces, often with their own stories, bring warmth and character to a space. The use of natural materials, like wood and iron, and a colour palette inspired by nature, further enhance the style’s earthy and cosy appeal.

Living Spaces

Beautiful dinning room and living room, inspired by French Country Decor. (Credit: ruizluquepaz via Getty Images)

Look for overstuffed sofas and chairs, perhaps with exposed wooden frames. Coffee and side tables made of weathered wood or wrought iron work well, as do armoires, sideboards, and bookcases made from rustic or distressed wood and painted, are ideal. These pieces might showcase ornate details, vibrant colours, or be purposefully simple.


French country decor bedroom with wooden wall panelling and french antiques. (Credit: Andreas von Einsiedel via Getty Images)

Antique wrought iron bed frames are the very essence of French country decor. For bedding, soft linens, floral patterns, and lace details work well, as do layers of quilts, throw blankets, and decorative pillows for colour and depth. Rustic or weather-beaten dressers, nightstands with oversized lamps, and vanities look great, possibly with ornate handles or carvings. The imperfections and patina add to the charm.


A French decor inspired bathroom. (Credit: Crispin la valiente via Getty Images)

Like the bedrooms and living spaces, distressed wooden cabinets, open shelving and wicker baskets add to the French country design vibe. A clawfoot or free-standing tub can also elevate the French country aesthetic. Often these tubs – and sinks – will have vintage-style, antique brass or bronze taps and plugs. Of course there’s always room for a wonderfully ornate Louis XVI mirror!

The Famous French Country Kitchen

A general interior view of a French country decor, cottage style kitchen. (Credit: John Keeble via Getty Images)

In a French country kitchen, functionality meets beauty, creating a warm and welcoming space where families gather to share meals and memories. The focus is on creating a lived-in feel, celebrating the beauty of imperfection and the charm of the old world. But what is French country style when it comes to la cuisine?

In the heart of the French country home, the kitchen showcases cabinets often with a distressed or antiqued finish. Their door fronts might be embellished with intricate mouldings or feature glass panes to display dishware or glassware. Natural materials, such as stone or marble, adorn the countertops, evoking a functional, yet old-world charm. Central to many French country kitchens, a large wooden island acts as the focal point. This offers both storage and a communal space, often set against a backdrop of rustic wood or a painted finish.

The iconic farmhouse or apron-front sinks, especially those in porcelain or copper, perfectly encapsulate French country decor. These are often paired with vintage-style taps, frequently in finishes like oil-rubbed bronze or brass. While the kitchen welcomes modern conveniences, appliances might be panelled to seamlessly blend with the cabinetry or chosen in retro styles that align with the overarching aesthetic. French country farmhouse decor is thoughtfully curated, with open shelving displaying dishes, pitchers, and crockery, as well as hanging pots and pans. Finishing touches might include enamel signage, woven baskets, and fresh flowers or herbs, bringing in the whimsical charm and essence of the French countryside.

Cool Colours

Rural French house interior. (Credit: Rrrainbow via Getty Images)

When we ask the question ‘what is French country home decor’, colour is all-important. French country design is characterised by a colour palette that is both warm and earthy, reflecting the natural surroundings of the Gallic countryside.

The foundation of the French country farmhouse palette is built on soft neutrals. Creamy whites, subtle beiges, and gentle greys evoke the feeling of aged plaster walls and old limestone cottages. These serene and inviting hues are complemented by the rich earthy tones of terracotta, muted greens, and soft browns, reminiscent of sunbaked fields, clay pots, and sprawling vineyards of the countryside. The landscape’s natural beauty further influences the palette with pastel hues such as the soft blues of Provençal skies, the purple tints of lavender fields, and the gentle warmth of morning sun yellows.

While the dominant tones are muted, there’s room for vibrancy. Pops of sunflower yellow, deep reds, and rich blues can be woven into French country decor, representing the region’s lively blooms, from sunflowers to poppies. Beyond just paint or fabric, the palette also embraces the natural hues of wood. The warm undertones of untreated or lightly stained wood, be it in furniture, flooring or exposed beams, bring in a sense of grounding and warmth, seamlessly blending the essence of nature with lived-in elegance.

Au Revoir…

French country decor, rustic interior design, simple living. (Credit: Fiordaliso via Getty Images)

What is French country decor? It’s the timeless allure of rustic elegance and pastoral beauty. Drawing inspiration from the sun-kissed fields and charming villages of Provence and beyond, this style celebrates the harmonious blend of nature, tradition, and comfort. Whether you’re renovating an entire home or just adding a few decorative touches, incorporating elements of French country design transports you to a serene countryside, where every piece tells a story and simplicity dances with sophistication.


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