French Cottage Style: Journey To The French Countryside

Saffron Marigold - Updated: August 30, 2021

Say bon jour to French cottage style for a look that transports you to the serene beauty of the French countryside. French cottage style blends country charm with stylish sophistication to create beautiful, inviting spaces. With French country colors, patterns, and decorative accents, you’ll feel as if you’re surrounded by the vineyards and villages of the French countryside.

What is French country style?

French country style epitomizes the idea of casual sophistication. The design appears cozy and effortless, celebrating natural light, the surrounding landscape, and the changing of the seasons. Heirlooms and antiques coexist beside just-picked flowers and new linens, and the overall feeling is soft and feminine.

French cottage of stone and a floral pathway
photo: Vincent Riva  

Does the French country look ever go out of style?

French country never goes out of style; in fact, it’s an interior design choice that remains in vogue. For many, this kind of design represents the essence of timeless style. A French country home celebrates rustic elegance; here, everything feels graceful, welcoming, and relaxed.

French cottage kitchen with blue glass and baskets
photo: Charly Pn

You won’t see remnants of shifting trends in French country style. And while you might have an occasional fleur de lis or rooster image, overdoing a specific motif will cause any style to seem forced and unnatural, which is the opposite of what French country cottage design is all about.

French country colors for decorating

When it comes to choose colors for your French country decor, the key is to think soft, muted, or warm–or a combination of the three.

Creamy shades of white feature prominently everywhere from window treatments to painted furniture and wall colors.

French cottage color palette
Sherwin Williams Snowbound & our Vanilla Glace

French country colors take their cues from the scenery of the countryside, so green is another color you’ll find in this style. However, it’s not emerald or shades of jade that you’ll want here. Instead, reach for soft shades of olive and sage.

French provincial color palette
Sherwin Williams Clary Sage & our Enchanted Ivory

Lilac colors in dusty tones are another French country staple–the lavender fields of Provence provide the inspiration for this lovely choice of color.

French cottage color palette
Sherwin Williams Wisteria & our Victorian Lilac

Red is one more color that appears in all kinds of French country homes from cottages to farmhouses and chalets. You’ll note the muted reds on linens and upholstery and on the occasional rooster emblem of the French countryside.

Sherwin Williams Kirsch Red & our Ruby Kilim

Naturally, we can’t talk about French country colors without mentioning yellow! From fields of sunflowers to the long streams of sunlight bathing in through the windows, a warm, golden yellow is the ultimate go-to in French country design.

French cottage color palette
Sherwin Williams Yellow Bird & our Gardens of Versailles

Finally, you’ll often notice yellow accompanied by blue, yellow’s traditional partner in French country decor. Again, muted blues and shades that reflect the sky work well here, but don’t be afraid to reach for a richer hue. In fact, a warm mid-tone blue is both iconic and stunning when paired with buttery yellows.

French cottage color palette
Sherwin Williams Blue Plate & our Enchanted Blue

Classic French country patterns

French country patterns and prints also source their inspiration in the beauty of the landscape, so it comes as no surprise that florals are a mainstay. Floral prints feel lush, romantic, and natural–everything that you’d expect from a pretty French cottage. In fact, the intricate flower patterns of Indian block printed textiles frequently find themselves in French cottage homes.

It’s common to see various patterns layered together in a cottage look. Some of the best patterns to mix with florals include stripes, polka dots, and plaids. A traditional ticking stripe is a classic choice, while polka dots bring a sweet sense of whimsy. Try combining flower patterns with monochromatic plaids for an upscale appearance.

Feel-good French cottage bedding

French country bedrooms are gentle and elegant, inviting rest, relaxation, and romance. Choose an antique bedframe or refined headboard and soft, luxurious cotton bedding. Hang wall sconces or chandeliers for pretty light fixtures, and add a few flowers and candles to enhance the feminine, romantic vibes of your French country bedding.

A French cottage bedroom looks especially apropos dressed in white bedding and with plenty of plush Euro shams piled onto the bed.

Balancing a French country living room

For foolproof French cottage style in the living room, paint your walls cream and hang a set of floral patterned curtains. Do this, and you’re well on your way to achieving the cottage country aesthetic that you desire. Build on that by deocrating a cottage living room that strikes a balance between the old and the new. It’s perfectly acceptable–even encouraged–to have a room filled with a modern sectional, window treatments, and throw pillows amid family antiques and heirlooms. modern window treatments

French cottage curtains with floral pattern

The key is to choose furnishings with timeless lines in mind and to eschew incorporating one trend after the other. the trend of the year out of mind when it comes decorating a cottage living room with a French country aesthetic. Think white sheer curtains (with pattern or without) that puddle tot he floor, a vintage etagere, and a great sofa filled with colorful throw pillows.

Dining in French country style

With just a few special touches you can evoke the feeling of feasting in the south of France regardless of your menu. Set the mood with pretty table linen; a floral tablecloth or table runner in stunning colors will do the trick. Next, add flowers–they’re a must! It doesn’t matter if it’s a casual centerpiece or a scattering of bud vases as long as you have fresh flowers on the table.

French country bistro table and tablecloth

Use cloth napkins to build on that sense of rustic refinement, and use any china you like. In fact, a mismatched set of chine or crystal will only add to the appeal. And voila–a French country dining scene perfect for candlelit dinner in the garden or a family gathering around a farmhouse table.

Decorate a fabulous French country kitchen

The French heart of the home is just as homey as it is chic (but of course).The cozy factor comes into play with warm wood tones, French country colors, and window treatments like cafe curtains (as window treatments or as sink skirts) fill the space with French flavor. With a few flowers, a pot rack, and copper pans, you’ll feel as if you’ve moved to Provence!

A luxurious French country bathroom

There are some things that the French just do better than anyone else, including bringing beauty to the bathroom. A French bathroom, whether in a Parisian apartment or a French cottage in the countryside, shows that even small spaces benefit from charming touches. A chandelier or wall sconces are essential, and a beautiful carved mirror is a must.

If a free-standing tub isn’t in your immediate future, then use accessories, light fixtures, and linens (like a French country shower curtain and towels) to impart more of a French cottage feeling into the room.

10 ideas for decorating in French cottage style

After adorning your space with our French-inspired fabrics, include charming accents that nod French country style Here are a few easy decorating ideas and tips you can use instantly!

Country dining room with white cafe curtains

1. Find furniture with weathered finishes

Heirlooms, solid wood antique pieces, or furnishings with weathered finishes all fit in with French country cottage style. You can have fun scouring antique stores, estate sales, and consignment shops for items have stories to tell. Likewise, you can grab a can of milk or chalk paint and “age” a piece of furniture you already own. Of course, you can always buy something new that looks vintage, like this French pine cabinet from The Bella Cottage.

2. Hints of glimmering gold

Gold is the standard metal of choice in French decor. It doesn’t matter which other metal is holding reign over the trends of the moment: gold never really loses its allure, especially in French country design. You an never go wrong with gilded frames, sconces, or decorative accents. A vintage (or vintage-style) mirror framed in gold would be perfection in any French room.

3. A rustic chandelier in the French cottage

The French embrace chandeliers like no other culture does. We tend to limit their use to the dining room table, but why not follow the French example? Hang a chandelier in the kitchen, in the bath, or in the bedroom. Just keep in mind that French cottage decorating calls for a simple French country chandelier, like this one from Studio VC.

4. Hang a variety of artwork

It’s no surprise that the country that houses some of the world’s most treasured works of art celebrates art in the home and not just in the museums. With that, surround yourself with art that inspires you. Original paintings or prints, photographs you’ve printed out, framed drawings from your child–display what you love. (Bonus points for framing it in gold). Need a starting point? We love this print from Vintage Elegy that resembles an oil painting for a much more attractive price tag.

5. Feminine touches in French furniture

French cottage and country style furniture is famous for its curved legs. Introducing pieces with curvy legs makes it easy to create a bit of French flair to a room. This could be anything from coffee tables to end tables to sofas or bedframes. Try adding a side table like this one to boost the ooh-la-la factor.

6. Fresh flowers for a French cottage touch

You’ve seen the photos of French country kitchens brimming with flower-filled vases and straw market bags overflowing with florals, and there’s a reason why: the French absolutely treasure fresh blooms. You’ll find flowers in abundance in almost any French country home, so why not do the same? Snip a few blossoms from your garden, pick up a grocery store bouquet, or treat yourself to an arrangement from the florist every now and then–you deserve it!

photo: Juja Han

7. Bring in the wrought iron

The wrought iron bistro tables that we commonly associate with France frequently make their way into patios, gardens, and French cottage homes. Wrought iron elements like bedframes, sconces, and chairs are très francais. It makes sense: iron is easy to care for and lasts a lifetime. It’s the ultimate in practical, rustic beauty, so it’s a natural choice for your French cottage decor. This pot rack made of iron and wood feels like it belongs in a French cottage kitchen, oui?

8. Decorate with French cafe curtains

Cafe curtains are yet another Parisian bistro item that have made their way into French cottage homes. Our collection of light-filtering, sheer cafe curtains come in a variety of prints and French country colors that you can use in the kitchen and beyond. Consider a row of cafe curtains in the dining room or family room, or hang a set in the bathroom for more privacy. (For more ideas on how to decorate with cafe curtains, see this post.)

9. Cover the floor with nature themes

Natural is the name of the game when it comes to choosing an area rug for a French country room. Rugs made of sisal, seagrass, and jute are at home in French cottage style, but so are gorgeous wool rugs with floral patterns or botanical prints. Again, select one that has muted, dusty, or warm colors that connect with the rest of your cottage decor.

10. Choose copper in the kitchen

If there’s one lasting image of a quintessential French country kitchen, then it’s the one of a light, bright kitchen with beautiful cabinetry, baskets of produce and flowers, and a shiny assortment of copper pots suspended from a rack. France has a long, celebrated history of copper cookware. Add a few decorative accents–or spluge on a whole new set of pans–to draw in even more of the French country vibes into your space.

French cottage decorating inspiration

Here are a few ideas for blending together different elements of French country decor in your home–go ahead, Pin them!

A classic French cottage look

A French cottage kitchen

A French cottage space with warm colors

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