The French countryside is vast and beautiful. And so are the homes. In fact some would say that the homes in the French countryside have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you can’t find anywhere else.
Living in France and having your very own Campagne De Francaise might be a possibility for some but for others it is not so easily achievable.
If you have ever dreamed of your very own French countryside bliss you don’t actually need to be there or break the bank to experience it. In fact, whether your home is an old style cottage or a new build there are a few simple things you can do to effortlessly re-create your own continental theme.
The first thing to consider is colour. In the French countryside exteriors of buildings tend to be earthy in colour consisting of whites, beiges, clays and natural wood and often with exposed brick and stone. Lighter pastel colours usually comprising of blues and greens are frequently used for, but not restricted to, external shutters or the front door.
The greens of the gardens are given a pop of colour by the reds, yellows and purples of the flowers that decorate the foliage and shrubbery.
The inside the home is a similar set-up with lighter whites and pastel colours fashioned on the walls with the occasional use of exposed bricks or stones to really emphasise the rustic appearance.
When I think of a rustic country style the first place my mind goes to is the kitchen. I imagine a warm, cosy kitchen with a farmhouse style sink and Aga cooker. Furnishings such as these really do look the part but tend to be in the higher price range so might not be affordable to those working on a tighter budget. This doesn’t mean the setting you want is beyond your means. You can still create a beautiful rustic French country setting by mixing things up with your kitchen embellishments.
French countryside homes tend to be overflowing with vintage and shabby chic items. By adding miss-match style jars, vintage crockery, old station style clocks, antique fruit bowls, vintage storage tins and candles you are creating that countrified look without adding too many zeros to the budget. You could also consider adding some linen to your kitchen table in a hemstitch or check style. A chicken wire basket, bread basket and cake stand can add a bit of ‘home cooked’ charm to your kitchen too.
Of course the kitchen isn’t the only room in the house. If you want to add a little more elegance to your home, French countryside homes can also feature chandelier light fixtures, chunky vintage style door locks and hinges, chimenea fireplaces and wall hangings and reefs. If you do have a little more money in your budget and want to really up the ante exposed beams can help to intensify the French country look.
Let’s go outside
When considering the appearance of the outside of your home the focus should ,again, be on vintage and shabby chic items combined with picturesque flowers, blossoms, trees and shrubbery. Windows dressed with plant pots and window boxes are a popular and appealing characteristic.
Commonly featured flowers and trees in French country gardens include Crocus, white and purple Lavender, hardwood trees such as Walnut and Chestnut and potted plants with a pop of colour (namely red and yellow).
Did you know: The national flower of France is the Iris.
Other accessories to consider adding to your orchard are faux wells, bird baths, old cart wheels, jugs, wheelbarrows, barrels and other vintage crockery. Actually a lot of people use old wheelbarrows and barrels and fill them with plants and flowers to really enhance that shabby chic vibe.
You can plants rows of small trees to re-create a vineyard style appearance. Or better yet, plant some grapevines, to create your own small vineyard.
Shutters are a perfect touch to any home and being an extremely prominent feature on many French homes, investing in some external shutters will certainly help you to achieve the appearance you are looking for.
Predominant shutter styles in France tend to be the board and batten, or Volet baton in French, and often with shape cut outs. Most shutters in France tend to be operational but it does not mean you need to have shutters that actually work. In truth decorative shutters are much more popular in the UK than functioning shutters as the demand is generally quite low. This is mainly due to climate but also because windows are not usually recessed enough to maintain a shutter that can open and close. Decorative shutters will help you maintain that perfect country style look and won’t cost an arm and a leg. Synthetic shutters are a great option as you have the authentic look of a wooden shutter without the maintenance required.
Did you know in some French villages and towns you need to obtain permission from the Mayor before installing shutters. This is because the Mayor decides the colour and styles of the shutters being installed in their parish. Therefore if the Mayor decrees that in their town shutters are white and you install green shutters you may be made to repaint them. What the Mayor says goes! Of course colours tend to differ from town to town but mainly consist of whites, pale greens and pale blues.
So why not try it yourself. Visit car boot sales and salvage yards for any unwanted milk churns, jugs or other items that have been thrown out by others but are exactly what you are looking for. If any of your friends are having a ‘clear out’ be sure to check out any old items that they no longer want but could be re-used. One person’s junk is another person treasure as they say.
Free websites like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace are ideal for people who are selling and buying second hand items. You never know you might find a hidden gem in there. Plenty of online retailers sell a lot of vintage style and shabby chic embellishments and decorative items at affordable prices also.
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