You've probably heard the term
French Provincial thrown around before, but may not have stopped to consider what it actually means. The word Provincial is an ode to Provence, a region located in the south eastern sector of France. This area is known for its rolling hills, rugged landscape, fantastic cuisine and of course, stunning country homes and villas. It was in these rural farmhouses and cottages that this unique style of interior decorating was born. Exposed stone walls, both internally and externally, are typical to the area, as are rustic stone fireplaces, cosy material textures and speckles of floral patterns and pastel tones that reflect our ideal image of life in the countryside. This particular style can be a little romantic at times, given that ruffles and curved furniture often feature in these homes, too. Pay close attention though, don't get confused with the ornate Parisian style that most designers deem as quintessentially French. Keep it light and homely, and steer clear of heavy ornamentation, rich tones and King Louis XV furniture if you want to recreate the most authentic French Provincial style home possible!
Intimate, charming and inviting are just a few words that spring to mind when we view this space. The wicker chairs, in conjunction with the soft blue pattern, rustic wooden chandelier and candelabras, are all stunning details that congregate to make a wonderful example of a French Provincial styled dining area. You can just imagine in the winter time, the smell of roast permeating from the oven, the crackle of an open fire and evenings tainted with bottles of rich red wine. This is a place to linger; to spend hours conversing with friends about deep and meaningful subjects like life and the universe. That's exactly how a true French Provincial space should feel—so cosy and warm that you never want to leave.
The French are known for their stellar hospitality, so if you are required to wait in an entrance or hallway for one reason or another, you must do so in comfort and in style. Put your feet up for a moment, and breathe in the freshly picked bouquet of flowers on the nearby table. Despite the fact each element of furniture in this space is mismatched, this scene appears to be uniform and balanced. The slight curve in the footrest and side table have a dialogue, as do the complementary floral and pastel patterns evidenced in the upholstery. This is a wonderful way to tie in all three elements which are, as they say,
same, same but different.
The French Provincial style can extend into your bathroom with ease also. Erring on rustic, the free-standing bathtub sits proudly in the centre of the room, inviting us to draw a warm and soothing bubble bath. Whether your day was spent roaming the vineyards or in the office, this style is designed to make you feel at home wherever it is that you live. Whether the view outside is of other high rise apartments, or if you are fortunate, lines of fruit trees, you can feel like you have your own piece of the French (or English!) countryside within your grasp seven days a week. Who needs a holiday when you can begin or finish everyday as though you were on vacation.
Extending into the kitchen, which in our opinion, is the heart of the home, the French Provincial style is able to shine through at its best. Synonymous for homeliness and chic country charm, this space is decorated with elegant textures and patterns. The colour palette is fairly muted, with the only bold accent awarded to the counter and splash back. Aside from this, antique jugs and containers line the bench, filled with wonderful, freshly picked produce. The wooden framed windows and pull down blind are a common occurrence in homes in the south of France, as they are uncomplicated yet practical—perfect for a busy rural lifestyle.
Every home needs a place to display the finest of their antique and vintage crockery. Whether it is collected or handed down from a relative, you cannot serve up your cuisine on modern plates and platters—this simply doesn't fit with the theme at all. In terms of popularity, these display cabinets have been slowing going out of fashion as it is no longer customary for women to ask for their most prized crockery in their dowry. But for a true French Provincial feel, one needs their pretty fine china on display, respectively in their kitchens, dining or living rooms. In the image above, we see a wonderful example of a rustic country dining area, complete with antique furniture and a freshly picked bunch of flowers as table decoration.
To finish up, we end in the most comfortable place of all—the bedroom. Here, we find a subtle wallpaper pattern decorating the walls, complementing the pale blush tones on the headboard and bedspread. As mentioned in the introduction, this room has touch of romance in the air. Feminine and calm, you feel that this space is conducive to relaxation and respite. The slight curve in the furniture, coupled with the ruffled, textured bedding feels dainty and rustic all at the same time. To bring it into the 21st century, the decorative cushions in the foreground give the space a much needed bit of oomph!
If you are looking for more French Provincial, rustic or country home decorating ideas, check out the following ideabooks: