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Basics of French Country Decorating

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Warm French Country Room

Warm French Country Room

Photo: John Evans

Originating in the sunny vineyards and fields of France, French Country decor is popular worldwide. Why? Because of it's casual elegance, sunny splashes of color, and emphasis on natural and rustic accessories. "Sounds wonderful," you say, "But I have not an extra sou!" Trust me, Dear Reader. you can get this wonderful style and even have enough left for French fries.

Basics: French Country style has a warm, comfortable feeling. The color? It's best to stay on the warm side of the color wheel with colors that have medium to low intensity. Think sunny.

The furnishings should have graceful and simple lines. French Country features lots of painted furniture. Buying older distressed furniture would be a perfect fit for this style. Wrought iron or rusted metal accents are essential.

Fabrics in this style are wide-ranging, but relay on toile, a very traditional fabric. You can partner toile with stripes, plaids, or solids - anything goes!

In the Kitchen: A French Country kitchen features lots of jars holding food staples. Find old covered jars at thrift shops or garage sales to duplicate the look. Add hand painted labels or print them on your home printer. Use old quaint street or grocery signs for wall decor. Again you can make your own. Just search out craft stores for inexpensive wall plaques or metal signs. Use a wrought iron wall planter to hang pots or utensils. Just add inexpensive hooks to hold them secure.

In the Dining Room: For a traditional French Country dining room, whitewash old mismatched chairs and use a round wrought iron patio or garden table for an inexpensive dining set.

In the Living Room: Windows in French Country rooms shouldn't be weighted down by heavy drapes. Instead add lacy panels to let the sun shine in while still providing privacy. In front of the window, try a wrought iron garden bench with pillows for the look of a window seat.

In the Bedroom: An old iron garden gate would make a great headboard. Use an old metal garden bench at the end of the bed as a sitting area. Dressers painted in colors and distressed will bring that comfortable feel into the room.

In the Bathroom: Use wrought iron towel racks or old vintage wrought iron fruit bowls to hold towels and wash cloths. Use an old painted buffet as a vanity for the sink.

French Country on a budget? It can be done, and as you can see, it can be done easily with a old thrift shop finds, distressed garden furniture, and fabrics. So go forth and design!

Decorate, paint, and landscape your way to a more beautiful home.

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