Sharon Santoni's blue barn door
The bold blue hue of the barn door pops against the aged stone walls.

The rustic charm of French country décor is a coveted look many homeowners who love the romantic style strive to create. For Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home, living in Normandy makes it all the simpler. Her house lies in a valley just an hour outside of Paris, nestled between farmland and a forest.

Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine.
Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine while Sharon’s pup plays nearby.
Sharon Santoni's garden
The garden provides an endless supply of fresh flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor entertaining in Sharon Santoni's lush garden.
Lush greenery and fresh flowers create a beautiful ambiance for outdoor dining.

Her flowers, food and even the décor are all determined by the seasons. If you’ve ever wondered how you can have the French country look in your own home throughout every season, follow Sharon’s example.

French country living room with garden flowers
Peonies from Sharon’s garden add a colorful touch to the sitting room.

Pops of Garden Colors

Flowers bring a liveliness to every room. Throughout Sharon’s home, fresh blooms pop with color against white walls and porcelain pitchers, and all of the flowers come from Sharon’s own garden.

“I see my garden as a palace of colors,” Sharon says. “The only time I buy flowers is in the winter, when I can use fresh greenery from my garden, but not flowers. From early spring through the end of September, I use my own flowers in all my decorating.”

The tables of Sharon Santoni's entryway are full of flowers

Seasonal blooms stand out against her neutral backdrop of white and gray. On her dining room table, soft white linens and napkins emphasize her colorful blossoms all the more. “All of my linens are vintage or antique,” Sharon says. “I have cupboards and cupboards of linens. I love linens.” The vintage quality and embroidered hems make them simple, elegant tablecloths or napkins for any dinner party.

White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon's outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.
White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon’s outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.

Tasty Décor

It’s impossible to accomplish the French country look without including food as part of the decor. Almost every table in Sharon’s home is decorated with seasonal fruits, vegetables and homemade treats.

Plein air painting and picnic.
“I’m a messy painter,” Sharon says. I only paint in the summer because I can paint outside.” When the weather permits, she will spread a thick quilt in her garden, set up her canvas and paint away.

Although Sharon grows some of her own produce, she also purchases food from the local farmers near her property. Plus she always eats what’s in season. “We like to eat food that is in the right season,” Sharon says. “We grow some fruits and vegetables in the garden. For example, right now we’re eating a lot of strawberries. I like eating food in season because you can look forward to it as the seasons come around.”

Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth
Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth.

Aside from growing her own food, Sharon and her husband also enjoy cooking. She shares some of her favorite recipes in her book, My French Country Home, and decorates many of her tables with freshly baked tarts and scones.

Sharon Santoni's French kitchen
Food and flowers are Sharon’s decor of choice, as long as both are fresh.

“Entertaining is such a big part of everyday life here,” Sharon says. “My husband comes from a long line of great cooks, and these are my family’s personal recipes.” Adding croissants and seasonal fruits to your breakfast table next to a pitcher full of fresh blooms goes a long way toward creating the French country feel in your home.

Sharon Santoni's dog in an armchair
A home should be comfortable, according to Sharon. She is not against muddy boots in the kitchen or her dog resting on an armchair.

The Precious and the Rustic

When it comes to maintaining the French country look throughout the seasons, Sharon offers a bit of advice. Aside from using seasonal blooms and decorating her tables with vintage linens, she always suggests keeping it real. “The French country look is a mix of old and new,” Sharon says. “It can’t be too rich or precious. It has to be real. We raised four children and two dogs in our house. A little bit of shabby does no harm at all.”

French linen bed
A pretty, feminine bedspread in the guest cottage brightens up the room and makes each of Sharon’s guests feel right at home.

Also, don’t overthink it, she suggests. In the end, your home is just meant to make you feel at home. Change with the seasons, and let fresh blooms be your centerpiece for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Purchase fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market, and bake breakfast pastries or desserts to go with them.

Sharon Santoni's puts fresh flowers in the guest room as a welcoming gesture.
Fresh flowers by the bedside are a welcoming gesture toward guests, making them feel right at home.

Make the most of neutral colors such as white, off-white or gray in your napkins, tablecloths or runners to emphasize your floral centerpiece. This approach will brighten up your home and make it appear all the more welcoming. The French country lifestyle is carefree and spontaneous, and your home can be too.