Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When people say they want to decorate
"Country French Style" it conjures up
different images. Is it all rustic, rural and
unrefined? NO, NO, and NO.
France is a small country, about the size of
Texas. When the locals talk about "la campagne"
many times they are referring to a quaint village
10 kilometers outside a major city.
The biggest misconception is that many
equate "Country French" with only the
Provence region and the bright colors it
is known for.

Luckily, I've had the opportunity to see many
"belle demeures" (beautiful residences), scattered
throughout la campagne.
Some types of homes to be found in the
countryside are:

Bastides..square or fortified homes located
throughout the countryside, many with formal
Domains..estates usually with several acres
for farming or a vineyard.
Maison de Maitre..a masters house usually
with two or three floors
Maison Bourgeoise..typically built of brick or
stone for wealthy business people. They tend to face the street
and say "Look at me."
Mas.. Farmhouses located in Provence. Normally
the house, barn and animal shelters are all attached
or within close proximity.
Chateaux & Manoir Houses... The grand
estates originally built for the landowners. Unlike
many other European countries where National
Trusts maintain elaborate properties, most in
France are privately owned.
Villas... Homes with coastal settings large and small.

As for defining the "Country French Decorating Style,"
these are my vinettes.

  • Monochromatic colors, chalky finishes and sun drenched.
  • Tile floors. Stone and clay have a way of softening the surroundings.
  • Useful spaces. Alcoves next to the chimeny for storing firewood or underneath deep windows.
  • Simple when heavy or light transparant window coverings.
  • Sinks in unexpected places..at backdoor entrances or outside.
  • Windows that open inside.
  • Furniture pieces incorporated into kitchens.
  • Antique Louis XV doors applied over plain doors, or in place of.
  • Grey and white furniture pieces.
  • Outdoor pieces such as bistro tables, iron chairs and urns used inside, in unexpected places.
  • Antique iron beds used on patios.
  • Open bookshelves used in kitchens.
  • Urns, pottery bowls and stone troughs used as sinks.
  • Anything can be made into a lamp!
  • Any antique table can have the legs shortened to use as a coffee table.
  • Farm tables used as vanities with linen lined baskets underneath.
  • Exterior iron doors used inside.
  • Striped or patinaed shutters for windows.
  • Architectural fragments used as table bases.
  • Towel warmers always.
  • Enamel house numbers.
  • Linen napkins used as window valences.
  • Trim around paneled doors lightly painted with pinstriping.
  • Highly glazed pottery used throughout.
  • Crystal chandeliers used over rustic tables.
  • Ticking and muslin used for upholstered seating.
  • Upholstered walls.
  • Bolsters used with bedding.
  • Basket with fruit, baskets with flowers and more baskets.
  • A good metal garlic press.
  • Herbs in the kitchen.
  • Course salt, never from the shaker.
  • Sugar cubes only.
  • Everday items, such as pitchers used for flower vases.
  • Lavander and beautiful soaps.
  • A dog!!

I've not seen any houses without some antiques. I guess it could be the circles I run in. The French have a wonderful way of blending rustic and frufru. I think that is the definition of "Country French." Soft textures, an appreciation for nature and her colours,and being preservers of the past.

If you would like more ideas or are searching for items to complete the "Country French Style" in your home, stop by my store, European Antique Market in Louisville, Ky., or visit our website at http://www.euroantiquemarket.com We would be glad to help and if we don't have the piece your looking for, I am heading back to France in August, and would be glad to search for you.

Time to go. Have a wonderful week everyone!!


Cote de Texas said...

omg - this is the most beautiful blog!!!! Gorgeous! and so informative. I love your list of country french - so true. I also just finished reading the article from the Washington Post, very, very interesting. This is just so beautiful. I'm going to go finish reading the whole blog.


Cote de Texas said...

Interesting - you talking about the bright colors of Provence being thought of as country french. I really don't like THAT look. I like the look you described so perfectly, the worn cobblestone, chalky finishes, painted pieces, monochromatic colors, gray and white furniture. The concept of country french really has evolved in America to what it probably truly is in France, as opposed to just Provence. Most of my french antiques are walnut so I can't paint them, but I am going to start painting furniture of lesser value. I just love the grey, chalky, white finishes so much.

euroantiquer said...

Thanks Joni,
Its wonderful to meet people in the blogosphere that are on the same wavelength.
Your decorating is beautiful!