French Country Decorating Ideas For The Living Room

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Casual yet elegant French country décor brings the atmosphere of French vineyards and sundrenched fields of lavender to your living room.

French Country Decorating Ideas Basics

These basic French country elements will help you create a warm French country living room:

  • A rich color palette including sunny yellow and gold, red, grass green, hunter green, lavender, and ocean or cobalt blue
  • Natural materials
  • Natural light
  • Nature themes
  • Simple lines

French Country Fabrics & Motifs

For a truly authentic French country design, traditional toile is the decorating fabric of choice. Meaning "linen cloth" or canvas, this signature French country fabric often has a white or off-white background with a repeating historical or pastoral-themed pattern. Usually the pattern is in a single color, most often black, but you can also find toile patterns printed in blue, dark red, green, gold brown or even occasionally multiple colors.

Compliment your living room toile with other natural fabrics including chintz or calico, and cotton, linen and wool with French country motifs including:

  • Roosters
  • Sunflowers
  • Grapes
  • Lavender
  • Beetles

Don't worry about all your fabrics having to match exactly. Mixing colors and patterns is a common characteristic of French country decorating, so feel free to experiment with complimentary colors, themes and patterns.

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French Country Living Room Furniture

Simple, graceful lines are a prominent feature of French country furniture. These furniture choices will give your living room an old world French country charm:

  • Gently curved armchairs and sofas
  • Striped, solid or checked accent pillows to compliment upholstered chairs and sofas
  • A decoratively carved or painted armoire
  • Detailed carving on wooden pieces
  • Simple ladder-back chairs with rush seats
  • Cabinetry with an antique white or natural wood finish
  • Wrought iron or rusted metal furniture
  • A half-round table with cabriole legs
  • Distressed wood
  • Painted or natural wood pieces with non-glossy finishes
  • Hand painted decorative accents such as stencils or stamps.

As with French country fabrics, mixing and matching furniture is the norm for this decorating style. If you'd like, feature a distressed wood armoire alongside a wrought iron end table.

French Country Flooring Ideas

For a genuine French country atmosphere, choose living room floors with an old, rustic and informal look. Some of the best flooring options for the French country decorating style include:

  • Stone
  • Clay
  • Brick
  • Terra cotta or other tile
  • Worn wooden floor boards
  • Natural area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting.

French Country Window Treatment Ideas

Choose simple window treatments in natural materials to keep your French country style consistent. Wooden shutters add an authentic French charm and are commonly found in this style. If you prefer fabric, consider delicate lace, lightweight cotton, or simple panels of unbleached linen.

Hang curtain panels from iron rods to let the sun drizzle in and enhance your warm living room color scheme. For a slightly more formal country look, you might want to try striped taffeta curtains or shades in rich, sun-drenched hues.

French Country Walls & Ceilings Décor

French country style walls and ceilings help maintain your design continuity. These wall and ceiling treatments will make you feel like your living room is part of a vintage French country farmhouse:

  • Walls of rough stone, with a stone fireplace built in
  • Irregular plaster walls in white or soft color washes
  • Distressed wood ceiling beams
  • Toile patterned wallpaper
  • Wallpaper that matches or approximately matches your upholstered fabrics.

French Country Living Room Accessories and Accents

Living room accents and accessories really pull together your French country design. Here are a few that may work for you:

  • Baskets: Fill wire or woven baskets with fresh fruit or wine bottles.
  • Hand painted tiles: Create a tile pattern on a section of your wall or hang a single, detailed tile alone.
  • Ceramics and glazed or unglazed pottery: Use these jars, urns and pitchers for centerpieces or to display on shelves and end tables.
  • Fresh Flowers: Fill vases, water pitchers or pottery with colorful, fragrant blossoms.
  • Paintings: Decorate your walls with dark, colorful old paintings with farm or historical scenes.
  • Porcelain plates: Hang these up to create informal wall art.
  • Metals: Display some wrought iron candlesticks or copper urns on your mantle or shelves, or try a wire wine rack or plant stand.
  • Sculpture: Carved wood roosters or porcelain figurines lend a cozy, rural French feel.
  • Photos: Framed family or travel photos are perfect for this informal style.
  • Vintage containers: Feature a collection of antique wine bottles, oil jugs or other glass bottles.

The warm, inviting space of your French country living room is just right for relaxed, comfortable times with friends and family. And when you close your eyes, you may even imagine a sunny French vineyard stretching out just beyond your window.

For more country decorating ideas, see:

Last Updated: April 10, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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