Draw inspiration from provincial homes in the idyllic French countryside to create a living space that's both cozy and elegant.
Blending the rusticity of its provincial origin with the refined interiors of European homes, a French country living room will allow you to create a charming sense of casual sophistication with a natural touch.
Think muted colors, delicate patterned fabrics, distressed and vintage furniture pieces, and lots of wood. The kind of living rooms you see on Pinterest, right?
Let's introduce it to your actual home. Whether you'd rather stick to the most authentic French country inspiration or add a more contemporary twist, here are our interior designers' favorite takes on this style.
1. Choose ornate furniture pieces
Sharp and simple lines have no space in the most authentic and bucolic French country living rooms!
When selecting furniture, look for decorative designs: for instance, this could include chairs and cabinets with cabriole legs, cupboard doors with wood carvings, or coffee tables with ornate shapes like in this example.
As for finishes, opt for wood or painted designs in muted or pastel tones, especially with an aged, distressed feel.
2. Create a French country palette
It should come as no surprise that these countryside-inspired interiors tend to prioritize… well, natural colors, of course!
3. Break the barrier between indoor and outdoor
Given its countryside roots, it only makes sense to bring nature inside your French country living room as much as possible.
A handy and peaceful trick is to make the most of glass: from windows to entire walls or even a conservatory-style room like in this tranquil example, this see-through material will allow you to gaze at your natural surroundings even when sitting down in your living room.
4. Elevate the sophistication of your French country living room
One of the characteristics that set this French interior style apart from other rustic decors is its intrinsic refined vibe.
To achieve it, include gentle curved lines, avoid clashing patterns, and space out your furniture and decorative items strategically to prevent a cluttered feel.
5. Add a cozy, traditional touch
Your living room should be a comfortable space to relax or catch up with friends and family, so an element of coziness is just as important as your most European-looking furniture pieces.
If you’d rather focus on it even more, consider blending a French country and traditional approach to decor: several monochrome pieces, simpler furniture items with one more decorative element, and neutral colors like white, gray, and black.
6. Give it a modern twist
To maintain a familiar modern feel in your French country living room, combine some elements from both styles.
Some modern staples include dark leather furniture, tables with glass elements, chesterfield sofas, geometric patterns, pieces in a long but shorter design to emphasize their length (especially in mid-century modern rooms), and starburst shapes for clocks, mirrors, or lighting fixtures.
7. Highlight a wooden ceiling
If you’re that lucky, emphasize them even more! For example, you could help this type of ceiling stand out by painting your walls white and including an eye-catching chandelier dangling from it.
8. Use natural materials
This is another authentic way of welcoming the countryside world into your French-inspired home.
We’ve already looked at the importance of wooden furniture and items, but it most certainly shouldn’t end there.
Think of textiles, too! For example, choose cotton, linen, and wool over synthetic fabrics whenever possible, from throws to rugs and curtains.
9. Include pictures or artwork that emphasizes your French country inspiration
This trick will work anywhere, but it’s even more effective if you haven’t got a natural view outside your windows.
By hanging up pictures of the countryside or artwork that homages it, you’ll be creating your own idyllic atmosphere.
As you can see, the wall space above your mantelpiece is an excellent spot to turn this picture into a focal point.
10. Include some rustic, salvaged wooden pieces
Sure, traditional or painted wooden designs are still relevant and particularly versatile. If you want to take your rustic inspiration to the next level (and impress your guests with an unmissable conversation starter), choose at least one furniture piece or item made of salvaged wood.
Like this coffee table, its natural and unique shapes and wood grain will make it one of a kind rather than yet another mass-produced piece.
11. Emphasize your living room’s architectural features
If you’re not going to settle for anything less than the most majestic French country living room, consider starting with your existing architectural elements and features.
Particularly tall walls? Enhance their verticality with classical columns like in this stunning example. Ornate ceilings? Leave your other walls white to help them pop even more. Quirky wall section? Use some natural stone or tiles to divide it even further.
12. Create a sitting area that facilitates conversation
For a cozy French country living room where all your friends will love to gather, your sitting area is key.
If your living room is fairly spacious, however, you could even consider two sofas facing each other.
13. Choose decorative mirror frames
This is an element that should never miss from the most authentic French country rooms: at least one beautiful mirror.
While round or rectangular shapes will work too, don’t be afraid to experiment with more creative ones like oval or even huge freestanding mirrors.
14. Display some wooden beams (or faux options)
Some noticeable wooden beams (especially against a white ceiling) will immediately add to this style’s rustic inspiration, bringing your coziness to the next level.
If your room doesn’t include them, don’t worry: nowadays, you can also find some pretty realistic faux options.
15. Brighten up the room with a chandelier
If toile is the French country fabric par excellence, chandeliers are the same when it comes to lighting fixtures.
Look for the most ornate and majestic designs with harmonious arms and fake candles.
16. Emphasize your room’s verticality
From Versailles-style palaces to spacious Provençal homes, tall ceilings tend to work divinely with this type of decor.
If your house is designed that way, highlight it by having a single chandelier dangling from the ceiling, and only hang your mirrors and decorative items on the middle-to-low section of your walls.
17. Showcase your natural stone or brick walls
As you can see in this rustic example, stone walls can really add to the spontaneous countryside feel behind this decor style.
As for brick walls, you could paint them in a distressed finish that matches your French country palette while still highlighting the pattern created by the actual brick lines.
18. Include relevant patterns
You don’t want loud and busy patterns clashing with each other. In French country interiors, they should be more delicate and used strategically: for example, by pairing up a patterned sofa with monochrome chairs.
Some iconic patterns that will never look out of place with this style are stripes, ginghams, plaids, and floral prints.
19. Make the most of your natural view
If the reason why you’re so drawn to this countryside-inspired style is that you actually live in a rural part of the country, don’t hide it behind thick curtains!
Display your natural views by leaving them open or opting for sheer curtains that still allow some natural light into your living room.
If you can, you could even consider introducing a glass wall section.
20. Make your functional items decorative
As well as your main furniture pieces, you should apply this decorative mindset to most of your smaller items, too.
21. Create a beautiful symmetry (and know when to break it)
To emphasize this decor’s sense of sophistication even further, you could focus on putting together a symmetrical living room that relies on clean structural lines and a clear visual flow.
Still, you can use some smaller decorative items to break this symmetry consciously, avoiding a predictable result.
22. Blend some vintage inspiration…
With their cabriole legs and distressed finishes, it’s no wonder that French country homes tend to involve some vintage vibes, too.
23. … or make it contemporary
If you’re fascinated by French country homes but don’t want to stray too far away from contemporary trends, balance out a few more ornate pieces with simpler ones.
For example, include a few items with more streamlined designs, traditional geometric shapes, and more saturated monochrome finishes like this avant-garde sofa.
24. Focus on your coffee table
With it being in the middle of the sitting area, your coffee table can really tie your living room together and facilitate conversation.
At the same time, you can use it to emphasize your French country inspiration even further by choosing a design with ornate legs, a distressed finish, or a sophisticated vibe.
We also recommend displaying some natural elements on it, such as fresh flowers or fruit.
25. Choose your decorative items wisely
French country is far from being a minimalist style, and yet it’s still worth focusing on a smaller selection of meaningful decorative items rather than many random ones.
In fact, choose those that would help you reinforce the rustic or elegant vibes behind this style.
26. Create separate areas
If your living room is fairly large, you could try and divide it into different areas to better match their function.
27. Include a large rug
Some of the most recognizable French country styles for rugs include Persian and vintage designs, aged and discolored finishes, floral patterns, and natural materials.
If opting for a patterned model, make sure that it includes at least one of the colors in your current palette: that way, your new rug will also help you tie the entire room together.
28. Choose dark wood for a more European feel
While rustic and painted wood finishes are just as popular in French country homes (or even more so), opting for darker wood can be a wise conscious choice if your passion for this style comes from majestic European country manors.
However, dark wood can make a small room look more cramped, so we only recommend it in the most spacious settings.
29. Homage your French inspiration tastefully
It’s not rare to find items with French slogans, words, or writing in both shabby chic and French country rooms.
Some clever spots for them are cushions, certain clock designs (usually, this will involve a French address), and wall decor items.
Alternatively, how about a large picture or artwork that showcases a scene or landscape from France?
30. Gather around the fireplace
Fireplaces are the warm heart of many provincial French homes. Does your living room include one? Then make the most of it!
And we don’t just mean to turn it on when the temperature gets lower: decorate its mantelpiece with relevant French country items, position your furniture accordingly, and consider getting some extra rustic points by storing plenty of wood next to it.