The French Provincial style embraces a range of true French themes, all the way from decadent luxury to homely and comfortable. This style takes on classic colours, a range of decorative elements and beautiful symmetrical designs.
Commonly associated with King George of England, the French Provincial style still has an influence on Australian homes – and we here at Intrim absolutely love it!
Exposed timber is a key feature in French Provincial homes, as well as detailed mouldings around fireplaces and as part of the cornice and skirting boards. Wrought iron features and staircases are also commonly seen.
French Provincial inhabits country style living with a luxurious flair, but has also come a long since its origins, now boasting lighter colours, cleaner design and modern touches.
So, when you think of French Provincial, think of natural colours of the landscape, stone features, country-style kitchens with white interiors, and making use of metals and wood for classic sophisticated finishes.
What is the history of the French Provincial style and where did it start?
The South of France in the 17th and 18th century was host to many local furniture makers. These furniture makers started to remake ornate pieces of furniture that were being made in Paris, but added their own countryside style and flair to the work.
The style became more popular after World War I when soldiers returned home and were inspired by the country homes they saw in the South of France.
With the mixture of ornate designs complete with wrought iron and simple textures, the main thing to remember when trying to create the French Provincial style is to combine beauty, sophistication and elegance with countryside rustic style.
However, you first need to make sure that you’re choosing the right colours and textures for your home.
Colours and textures of the French provincial style
The colours in a French Provincial home are all about keeping it classic. Choosing creamy whites, light grey tones with ivory and hints of soft blues and greens will keep your home in the delicate country style that French Provincial is known for. You want the tones and colours to be warm and neutral, really reflecting French nature and the countryside.
When it comes to textures, aim for furniture made with linen and other soft textures, along with timber, wood and marble for kitchen bench tops. If you are building a new home or have these in your current home, exposed timber beams are also a great feature in the French-inspired style.
But of course – it’s also a lot about the styling!
How to “French” your home
French Provincial floors
Go for the natural look with your floors, whether that is with stone or timber. The key pattern associated with the French Provincial look is parquetry, especially for the floors. As for the walls, keep them basic with natural colours and crisp paint.
A great inclusion to any home is a fireplace, and this will also tie in nicely to the French Provincial theme. A fireplace was always seen in old rural French homes and gives a cosy warm feeling throughout the house. Decorating fireplaces with ornate mouldings will further enhance the look.
French Provincial kitchens
And what about some of the key rooms? Well, the heart is in the kitchen! With a French Provincial kitchen, you want to have the island bench in the middle of the room with a marble top to really give it that luxurious look and feel. Then for the rest, keep it clean and white with gorgeous countryside cupboards.
French Provincial furniture
The furnishing in a French Provincial home will be in the style of an antique look, including older and classic designs. Tufted furniture with button detailing is a definitive feature of French provincial style, adding old-world charm to your home.
When choosing furniture for your French provincial home, you want to have some pieces with cabriole legs as well as a carved armoire, as this will really add a feature to your French Provincial style. Mirrors are also another piece to have, as they not only reflect light around the room but also have an elegant carved wooden frame that will complement the rest of the furniture in the home.
French Provincial windows
As for the windows, you want to layer the fabrics to give them a more dynamic look (and also to create an intimate space). Also, shutters are a great addition to any window in a French Provincial-inspired home. You want everything to signify luxury, as well as comfort.
French Provincial mouldings
You are probably now picking up on the theme that heavy decoration and details are what French Provincial styling is all about, and this is the same for timber mouldings.
To add to all your linens, timbers and marbles, you cannot forget ornate, detailed skirting boards and architraves, beautiful cornices and wainscoting.
French Provincial decoration
To spice up any room throughout your home and to add some warmth, use a thick rug to frame the space. Make sure you go for light colours to match the rest of the home.
In terms of decoration, flowers are always suited to the French Provincial look and tie in beautifully with both the classic and countryside feel. You can go for fresh flowers or opt for high-quality dried flowers for year-round decoration. As for ornaments or items around the home, go for antiques, family heirlooms and pieces that will bring out the history within the home.
You can add a little more here than you would for a modern look home, as a little more clutter can make spaces feel homely and lived-in, blending well with the French Provincial look.
To finish off, give your home some love with colourful ceramics, wrought iron, old copper pots, candles and some marble ornaments to fill the spaces. You want to add depth, interest and intrigue to your space.
What is the difference between French Provincial and Parisian styles?
Simply, the difference between the two is French country and French city. Parisian styling is the ‘city’ version of the style and encompasses a more modern, sleek look with the addition of a vintage eclectic twist. You would be more likely to see whiter, cleaner interiors, less styling and more wrought iron and rustic metal finishes.
They make better use of the space they have (being the style hails from smaller French apartments) and leans more on an industrialised edge to the French Provincial style.
The finishes though are more opulent and indulgent, think chandeliers, silks and high-end finishes.
Embracing the French Provincial style in your home
To recap on our top tips for creating a gorgeous French Provincial style home?
- You want to have lavish fabrics throughout the house – linen is a great option or even velvet if you like the feel.
- The furniture should be elegant with beautifully curved edges, rounded legs and be big and bold to make a statement.
- Don’t go rustic – you want clean finishes! Make it look like a polished countryside style, not a rustic countryside style.
- Go for warm colours with whites, creams and soft blues and greens.
- Don’t skimp on adding more and more architectural detailing. Add beautiful cornice, ornate large skirting boards and enhance your walls with wainscoting.
- If you have a fireplace, make sure you deck it out to be a standout piece, and if not, faux mantles are an easy addition to achieve a similar look.
- Flowers, greenery and antiques give it a personal touch and a warm comforting feeling throughout the home.
French Provincial is a style that blends the French countryside with Parisian elegance. From polished rustic looks to the ornate feel of antiques and knick-knacks, French Provincial homes can include exposed timber and chandeliers all in the same space.
Have fun getting creative!