EUROPE FEATURE: How to get Modern with French Country

It’s easy to see why the French Country, (or French Provincial) is popular around the world. Its warm, rustic vibe and attainable style exudes charm. It also probably doesn’t hurt that anything ‘French’ is synonymous with good taste.

The decorating style is a reflection of the homes in the South of France in the 17th and 18th century. It experienced a resurgence in the 90s, and suddenly 'shabby chic' interiors were all the rage. A trend that saw us all distressing furniture and staining fabrics in tea for the desired ‘worn look.’

A fireplace is always at the heart of a French Country home. Image:


Today we’re seeing new spins on French Country - and there's more than one fresh take on the classic.  It seems the French Country style is so versatile that it works perfectly as a base for other, more modern styles.

Here’s a look at how you can mix other styles for a stunning new take on French Country.


French style icon Chanel Coco's once famously said "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory." She was talking about clothing, but this advice works just as well for those wanting to achieve the Modern French Country look.


If you have beautiful and decorative period features in your home, add just more ornate accessory, such as a gilded gold mirror, and make everything else clean-lined and minimalist.  It will highlight the ornate features even more and feel less cluttered and busy. Stick to a simple colour palette of one or two colours and paint both the ceiling and walls in the same hue.

The reason the French Country and Modern works so well comes down to conflict and contrast. Where French Country is soft and rustic, Modern is fresh and sleek.  Where French Country is warm, Modern is cool. Bring them together and that’s when the magic really happens...It’s old-world charm meets contemporary chic.


No French Country interior is complete without a fireplace, but that doesn't mean yours has to look or perform like one from the past. You can still get all the ambience and style of a wood one with a gas fireplace. This gives you the benefits of energy efficiency, convenience and a sleek modern update.  Modern fireplaces also have the benefit of being able to go anywhere in the home, making them perfect for open-plan spaces.



To nail the Bohemian French Country look you really need to shake things up a bit.  Throw out the symmetry rule, take away the need for matching side tables and lamps and mix it up. The more unexpected, the better. Take a French Country base and add in pieces from other eras and suddenly you've taken the room to a whole new place.

The room below is the perfect example of this. It has the classic French Country base of timber herringbone floorboards, paneled wood walls, a marble stone fireplace and French linen bedding. It has then added an eclectic mix of mid-century (starburst mirror); industrial (angle-poise lamp); art deco (curved chair) and ethnic (shaggy Moroccan rug) pieces. Despite all these different elements the room feels restrained, timeless and sophisticated, and this comes down to the classic French Country base and limited use of colour.



With some slight tweaks, like ocean-inspired hues and geometric patterns, you can modernise your French Country interior to the Coastal/Hamptons interior style. Like French Country, it brings together the freshness of white with natural tones and timber. This style prefers matching furniture for preppy appeal, but brings in natural accessories like sea shells and rattan baskets for a more casual, holiday feel.




Another perfect match for French Country is Industrial style. With just a few key features, such as vintage enamel light shades, exposed brick and concrete floors, you've given the farmhouse style a cool, masculine edge. It's a look that works well in kitchens and makes for a casual, family-friendly and practical space.

The key for this look is mixing a range of raw natural materials and warming up the harshness of steel and concrete with wood and worn leather.


Which modern take on French Country do you like the most?

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