French Country and Country French are terms that get tossed around with abandon these days. Have you ever wondered what the difference is?
Rococo, a style that was popular from 1730-60, has had a tremendous impact on interiors. This period produced intricately carved wood panels, ormolu mounts, extravagant marquetry inlays, and the trumeau (wood framed mirror). It was fanciful, lavish, based on nature, and all about curves.
Rococo in the Country: French Country/French Provincial
What has become French Provincial style is basically a simplified version of French Rococo. In the countryside, simplification was a result of smaller budgets as well as fewer skilled craftsmen to produce furniture pieces and wood paneling. It developed when the woodworkers attempted to imitate the style of decoration that originated in the provinces of France in the 18th century. The imitations were less ornate than the styles that were the rage in Paris. Furniture was more simply carved as were decorative moldings. Printed cottons called toile de Jouy were very popular then as they are today. Iron was used in 18th century decorative interiors and still finds a place in today’s French interiors, especially for light fixtures.
French Country or French provincial offers a French manor type of look. Decorative moldings create the perfect backdrop. You will often see antiques with a French flair, even gilded furniture, lush traperies, rich textiles. In short, this look is elegant and even opulent, but never glitzy. French country incorporates details but they are never overdone. Colors are subdued. Soft creams are abundant, and soft green, soft gold and soft persimmon pair beautifully with the creamy base. Accessories are simple but there is a place for gilded touches, a few ruffles, or anything that offers a touch of romance. You can mix French country with transitional and even contemporary pieces. In particular, the soft curves of Rococo and light, delicate Neoclassic furniture pieces sit perfectly in this setting.
Always romantic, ever elegant, but never glitzy — as seen in this room above.
You can have it all — a reminder of the past and contemporary furniture styling. Modern furniture in subdued neutrals against a backdrop of soft green decorative wall moldings. The creamy parquet floor offers visual movement. Windows are unadorned by fussy blinds and framed by elegant draperies.
Country French is easy to remember because the emphasis is on the first word — country. It is more of a feel rather than a specific stye and incorporates a mix of pieces from various periods of French history. This is more of a farmhouse look, a rustic safe haven. However, this style is enormously popular for good reason — it’s incredily homey and welcoming. Oversized furniture invites people to sit and relax. Rich, warm colors such as sunflower yellow and soft reds soothe while violets, soft greens and blues balance the palette. Accessories are more rustic — hanging pot racks, earthenware, and hand crafted pottery give a personal touch. Open shelving invites objects of personal affection to be displayed. Copper fits in nicely.
The rustic charm of this kitchen is apparent. It is inviting and unassuming.
A generous use of white is one way to ramp up the charm and comfort level of a Country French interior and keeps the interior from feeling too confining.
Definitions aside, if you are interested in having an interior designer create either a French country or country French look for your home, use a wide variety of images to convey your sytle preference as these two styles are often used interchangeably in practice.
Unistakably French, Betty Lou Phillips
French by Design, Betty Lou Phillips
The French Inspired Home, Carolyn Westbrook (this book contains images for those who love to use white in their interiors, as well as a chapter on French Modern)