Often when we think of French country design, we are actually thinking of the style inspired by the homes in Provence, along the Mediterranean in France’s southeastern corner. Provencal design typically includes a rich color palette, distressed or reclaimed wood, various fabrics with bold prints, and plenty of other French-inspired details.
Colors –pops of color are key when creating a French country kitchen. The colors of Provence range from vibrant to subdued hues but are always rich and are usually offset by fresh white for contrast. For color inspiration, just think of the natural colors of the area such as fields of lavender and sunflowers, fresh honey, olive groves, seaside sunsets and the inviting Mediterranean sea. You don’t need to include all of these in one little cottage kitchen just pick a few that you that you love.
Distressed wood – natural and neutral, distressed wood fits perfectly into a French country kitchen. You could incorporate it through a side table, kitchen island or tabletop made of distressed wood. Another way would be to have exposed wood beams in the ceiling. The beams work particularly well if you have high ceilings and they are stained a dark color to contrast with the white ceiling.
Fabrics – French toile can really make an impression but it is quite busy and can become overpowering. It is best to use toile when the rest of the room’s elements are quite simple. Other ways to bring the colors and textures of Provence into your home through fabric would be through seat cushions, curtains, hand towels or tablecloths.
Details – Small details such as a hanging pot rack, antique towel hooks or colorful pottery can have a big impact. Other little touches like a potted lavender plant or herbs in a terra cotta pot or antique paintings can really finish off the French cottage kitchen look that you’re going for.
Green Tip: you can turn reclaimed barn boards into a beautiful table top without too much effort or a shop full of tools.
Example of a Provencal reno: A kitchen can be given new life without needing to be completely gutted. My sister inherited a cottage whose kitchen has 1980s-style robin’s egg blue melamine cabinetry. Not exactly country cottage but, by painting some of the walls with a subdued yellow, adding a toile curtain (yellow with white and blue pattern)over the sliding doors, terra cotta herb pots in the window and a few other pottery pieces, plus keeping everything else neutral, she was able to happily live with her cottage kitchen without spending a fortune on remodeling.
If you found this blog post interesting, you may also like to read Colors of Tuscany.