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French Cottage Design | Exploring the Cozy Style of French Country Farmhouse Decor | Amitha Verma

By Amitha Verma

The idea of a quiet and quaint little country farmhouse in France is one that is utterly appealing to many.

The countryside of Brittany with a French cottage stone front farmhouse with blue shutters.

You can probably even picture it, perched on a small hill in a vast sea of lavender and green grass with foothills in the distance. The interior decor of this little farmhouse is simple, comfortable, and pleasing to the eye. It is quintessentially the very basis of French cottage design.

A countryside field of lavender flowers with French cottage farmhouse in the distance.

If you are new to this style, and you want to redo one or more rooms in your own home in this decor, you have to start at the beginning. Get a real feel for this decorating approach. Explore all that it entails, via the following.

What Is "French Cottage" Design and Decor?

It is simple, cozy, comfortable, and pleasing. It involves puffy pillows and blankets of a singular color or simple design made from natural fabrics under which you want to snuggle for an entire rainy day.

A collage of French cottage style home decor including gingham check fabric pillows, a cozy tufted chair, and a chalk finish paint chest of drawers or commode.

It is country blue furniture or "shabby chic" wood that is intentionally and slightly worn to give it an older look as though it has been sitting in a countryside cabin in France for eighty-plus years.

A dining room collection of rustic, modern, and industrial style furniture all mixed together to create the French cottage style.

It is a mix of the French provincial, rustic, modern, and slightly industrial design concepts to give you a genuine feel for a lifetime lived on a French farm.

A display of French cottage kitchenware to dress up a black steel frame windowsill.

All the decor involved in this style is meant to imbue your space with the sense that there are stories here to tell, and if your walls and objects could talk, they would have amazing things to say. It dresses up a space while simultaneously dressing it down.

How It Relates to Other "French" Decor and Designs

French Provincial Style

French is a word thrown around the interior design world a lot. It describes three distinct styles of interior design. One is French provincial, which describes furniture and decorations in line with the French provinces of the 17th and 18th century.

True French provincial items can only be garnered by inheritance or expensive auction houses, which is why there are many companies that make knock-off pieces. The knock-off pieces obviously aren't made in that era, but they provide an affordable alternative to an entire year's wages spent on a single table at auction.

Two French provincial chalk painted, upholstered chairs in a farmhouse inspired home.

French Country Style

Then there's French Country. It's a little more modern, but with a country twist. French provincial it is not, as it leans toward the French merchant class or bourgeoisie rather than French royalty. It is elegant without being too elegant, dressed down without being too "peasant."

Vintage framed landscape artwork, chippy chalk finish painted side tables, upholstered settee and gray caned back accent chairs, trumeau mirrors, and antique decor collected in a farmhouse living room.

French Country uses a lot of patterns, soft curving lines, and femininity in its decor.

French country style kitchen with blue and white tiled walls, a natural wood-finished kitchen in a farmhouse style home that showcases copper kitchenware and an island nook seating area.

French Cottage Style

Finally, cottage style, a la French, utilizes a much simpler look. Cooler colors with just a dash of brightness, items that only the peasantry could make or afford, and a comfortability not generally enjoyed by the higher classes are at the core of this style. While they all seem to overlap, they are distinctly different.

Bright and airy French cottage style kitchen with large wooden island styled with floral arrangements, creamware, linen tablecloths, simple white cabinets and a copper pot rack.

Cozy, lived in and collected cottage style dining room with large wooden dining table styled with loose floral arrangements, creamware, linen tablecloths, white chalk painted china cabinets and a chalk painted buffet.

How Do You Get the Country Cottage Look? 

A wicker basket against a white-bricked wall filled with navy blue and white gingham napkins and a bundle of dried lavender sitting on the countertop of a country cottage-style home against a slaked whitewashed brick wall.

Start with a simple coat of paint on the wall. Creams, whites, country blues and soft yellows tend to dominate this style. Since a lot of French country farmhouses were originally whitewashed with slaked lime and water, this is where the walls of this design style get their color.

Farmhouse owners could use natural colors available to tint the slaked lime paint, which included yellow and blue flowers growing wild in the countryside.

Natural colored wooden table surrounded by antique books, aged mirrors, dried florals, and ceramic decor.

Next, replace all of the furniture with simple, comfortable pieces. It should be mostly wood chairs and wooden tables, although living room furniture can have some padding for comfort.

A collage of French cottage style home decor including cozy white throw blankets, peonies in glass and chicken wire vases, and a whitewashed wood farmhouse dining table and upholstered natural wood and linen farmhouse dining chairs

Basic square throw pillows and knitted or crocheted blankets are part of the style too. Pressed flowers, feathers, and leaves framed and hung on the wall or simple sketches of things from nature belong on the walls. Vases of wildflowers decorate tables. Think simple, comfortable, and understated, and you will get the style right.

A collage of French country cottage style home decor including cozy white throw blankets, dried eucalyptus in ceramic vases, and pressed leaves flower artwork called herbiers.

 And now you know the difference between French provincial, French country, and French cottage!

I’m curious. Of the three, which one do you identify with the most? Were you surprised to find out that your style is not just farmhouse? Let me know in the comments!

Now that you know which variation you fall under, you’re probably in the market to explore home decor pieces to better match your style. Luckily, Village Antiques carries all of these and more!

We're open Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm in Houston, TX —Stop on by! We're happy to answer any questions and help you find unique pieces for your home in person.

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Inspiring you to create heart in your home,

Amitha

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