Frilly linens and burlap. Antiqued finishes and chipped edges. What’s not to love about the French farmhouse style?
“Farmhouse style exudes warmth and comfort, like a warm apple pie on a chilly night, while the French element adds elegance and sophistication,” explains Anita Joyce, owner of the Cedar Hill Farmhouse blog. “The combination just works.”
To emulate Anita’s soothing “Farmhouse French” style, blend high-end details with earthy, comfortable materials. “I use farmhouse elements like grain sacks, homespun linen, white ironstone plates and platters, old earthenware bowls and crockery, worn wood ladders, dough bowls, chippy iron beds, French enamel pitchers and worn baskets,” Anita says. “If it’s rusty or has chippy paint, it’s probably perfect.”
Next she mixes in French Louis XV and Louis XVI chairs, feminine French style lamps, original artwork, old candlesticks from churches, French silverware, silver teapots and water pitchers, French clocks, a cloche or two filled with luscious ivy, or Florentine trays as gold accents.
“Remember, you want to mix the rustic with the refined: Think sparkling crystal chandeliers mixed with a rusty iron bed frame, crisp white linen monogrammed sheets and a burlap covered bench,” says Anita.
Anita’s Favorite Decorating Tips
Add vintage! Try local flea markets, consignment stores, antiques festivals and thrift stores to find something unique.
“Age” your accessories with paint and antiquing wax.
Reupholster fancy antique French chairs and settees with grain sacks and homespun linen sheets.
Old dishes are inexpensive, easy to find and add so much charm.
Limit your color palette for a calming effect.
Anita is also author of French Accents: Farmhouse French Style for Today’s Home and podcast host for “Decorating Tips and Tricks.” For more information, visit cedarhillfarmhouse.com.
If you assumed this kitchen belonged in an 18th-century chateau in the south of France you’d be mistaken but understandably so. You might be surprised to learn that the kitchen is attached to an estate built in the 21st century that is perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The room’s remarkable resemblance to an authentic Provencal kitchen from another era was achieved through close collaboration between the designer and homeowners. Kitchen designer Bruce Colucci of Le Gourmet Kitchen, Orange, California, was hired by the homeowner not only for his design experience, but also his passion for cooking—a passion the homeowner shares as well. “Cooking is a form of meditation for me, especially if it’s in a beautiful, well-designed, well-equipped kitchen,” the homeowner says.
Bruce developed a close relationship with the clients during the project and considers it among his favorites of his 35-year career. Many times a casual conversation would lead to a collaborative effort on a design element. “Understanding how a client cooks and lives in their space determines the direction of the design. The kitchen has to reflect the lifestyle of the client,” he says. “My vision was to make it functional regardless of whether the homeowner was cooking for the family or a large gathering. It is designed to accommodate both. It can expand or contract based on the need,” he says. “A residential kitchen is very much like a restaurant and has to function in the same way.”
The homeowners spend much of their time in the south of France, so they wanted their California kitchen to be an accurate reflection of French Provencal design. “The goal of the project was to recreate the authenticity of the kitchen design found in the south of France through the architecture and furnishings,” Bruce says. “There’s an art to creating a design that looks authentic rather than contrived.”
KEYS TO THE KITCHEN
Bruce conducted extensive research on homes in the south of France to determine the essential design elements. “The woodwork needs to be distressed using a slightly chipped paint finish to look like it’s been around for a long time,” he says. “Blending vibrant and subtle hues is important. Mixing patterns is important as well for a casual, effortless look. The use of pleated fabrics to hide storage and keep dust off the dishes is a classic element of French country style.”
The ceiling heights and architectural design of the 400-square-foot kitchen lent themselves to open shelves rather than high cabinets for a casual, comfortable ambience. The homeowner displays his culinary accessories, clay pots and canisters on the shelves. Among the homeowners’ favorite aspects of the kitchen are the upper windows for natural light, marble backsplash design, glass cabinets, open shelving and the range hood Bruce designed. “The hood looks like a fireplace hearth,” the homeowner says. Bruce’s favorite kitchen elements include the cooking ensemble, the range hood and the open shelves above the cooktop. “Although this kitchen is 16 years old, it still looks beautiful and new,” he says. “Good design is timeless. It’s comfortable, and you can look around and reminisce about travels. It’s so much more than a kitchen.”
Best Budget Ideas for a French Country Transformation
If your wallet won’t allow a complete French country kitchen makeover, here are a few ways you can add French flair to your kitchen without spending a fortune:
1. Swap glossy, contemporary faucets and hardware for options in an iron finish or those with an antique patina.
2. Open upper shelving to reveal your kitchen collectibles and use counter skirts or aprons down below to hide storage.
3. Display linen towels and tea cloths for a look that is rustic, luxe and practical.
No romantic home is complete without at least one chandelier to add the shimmer of crystal to your elegant space. While there’s no denying the appeal of a vintage piece, creating your own crystal chandelier to give your home a little personal charm and character. It’s not only a fun project, but it’s easy too! Keep reading to find out what you’ll need, and what to do.
DIY Chandelier: What You’ll Need
Gold spray paint
Gold metallic cord – about 5 yards, depending on size of lampshade
Cut the fabric cover from the lampshade and remove all the glue remnants. Spray with gold spray paint.
Wrap gold cord around the bars of the lampshade frame, making sure it is evenly spaced. Secure using hot glue or other adhesive.
Use the wire to attach the strands of crystal to the lampshade.
Using hot glue or other heavy duty adhesive, attach the bobeche to the frame. Make sure they are secure, and then glue the votive holders on top of the bobeche. Glue the fourth votive holder inside the shade, where the light bulb would sit.
Attach three equal lengths of jewelry chain to the top of the lampshade, joined together with a large jump ring for hanging.
If you like, you can leave off the bobeche and candle holders and use it on an electric lamp. We chose to add gold tea lights for an extra bit of bling.
You can also use vintage chandelier crystals (rock crystal or leaded glass) to create a unique, one-of-a-kind treasure for your home.
What do you do when you have a new home, but want a vintage look? When Amy Campbell and her husband Joe bought a new tract home in Temecula, California, Amy knew she would have to speed up its aging process. Here’s how she did it.
Start With the Bones.
Decorating a home always starts with the structure itself. Even though Amy and Joe’s home still smelled of fresh sawdust, she saw the potential for vintage style. “I knew the ‘bones’ would work with my style,” she says. “I wouldn’t want high ceilings because they don’t lend themselves to a delicate style of furniture. It had the right scale for the way I like to decorate. Even though it’s an open floor plan, the scale and aspects of the room lent themselves to a gentler style of furniture, not huge pieces. It was the perfect marriage of light, open rooms in a traditional type of architectural style that I could decorate the way I wanted to. It also had English gardens in the back and front of the house.”
Instead of working against the architecture, Amy used it to her advantage. “The architectural style was French Country with a little Tuscan influence,” she says. “I wanted it a little more rustic. I added some shabby elements and a bit of industrial style for a French-cottage distressed look.” Amy paired the French country architecture with her own vintage style, which resulted in an aged but timeless look. “I love anything rustic and chippy,” she says. “I’d describe the décor as French provincial with a cottage twist.”
Add Vintage Charm.
When it comes to furniture, Amy is all about antiques. “Everything in my home has to be old and have a history, either vintage or antique,” she says. She displays vintage finds throughout her home, and doesn’t stop with the furniture. “I collect vintage buttons and add them to modern clothing,” Amy says. “I also collect floral oil paintings. My great-great cousin was an oil painter, and I started collecting and displaying them, including three of her paintings.” By displaying items such as antique coats and hats, Amy shows off her love of vintage style through small details as well as the larger elements of her rooms.
Strut Your Stuff.
Not only does Amy display vintage pieces throughout her home, but she also shows off some of her own handiwork. “I love anything with needlepoint, and I display the needlepoints my grandmother and I made in the rooms,” she says. Even her passion for crafts and hand stitching is part of the heritage her grandmother passed down, and now the work of both grandmother and granddaughter sits proudly side by side. Amy’s needlepoint projects make an appearance in pillows and ottomans in various rooms.
When the weather turns cold, Amy dresses up her home for the various holidays during fall and winter. “I love to decorate with pumpkins and gourds,” she says. “I also decorate bottlebrush trees—my true craft passion—for the holidays. I repurpose shoe buckles into bracelets and make them for holiday parties.”
During the fall months, real pumpkins and needlepointed masterpieces grace her living room, dining table and even bedroom. “The beauty of this kind of décor is that everything blends together well,” Amy says.
It’s time for a gathering of girlfriends who enjoy the simple pleasures of reading a great book and having good conversation. Inspired by the scents and sights of old pages, this erudite event pays homage to the romanticism of the famed French novels of the 19th century and beyond.
Set the tone with an easy-to-create table runner fashioned from the pages of no-longer-needed paperback books. The covers were removed and the books were soaked in a tub filled with coffee until the pages were stained. The books were laid out in the sun to dry, and then the pages were carefully torn out and hot-glued by the corners in random fashion to create the long table runner.
A lush and breezy bouquet of pink roses and softly muted greenery brightens up the table and adds an almost sculptural beauty. At the end of the party, the hostess will dismantle the flower arrangement and each guest will receive a jar to fill and bring home as a memento of the day.
The French theme carries through to the food, set out buffet style for guests to serve themselves. French Limoges china with a delicate pattern of roses is party perfect and lends itself to accessorizing with antique glassware, vintage monogrammed napkins and silver flatware.
For the main course, simple bistro fare includes homemade Croque Madame sandwiches that are filling and easy to make. Pâtisserie including macarons and madeleines have been set out on charming plates atop boxes from trips to an iconic French pastry shop in Paris.
According to the author, Florence de Dampierre, French style can be summed up in one word that essentially translates to the word “Taste.” Dating back to the seventeenth century through present day, the taste for luxury, etiquette, beauty, and quality remain the dictates of French life. The French also make distinctly clear the difference between bon gout (good taste), mauvais gout (bad taste), and erreur de gout (in poor taste), and use the terms often.
Her book, French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful, will expand your knowledge about kitchens, kitchen gardens, sprucing up, flowers and plants, and entertaining at home with flair. The book is a useful guide to help you create a welcoming, comfortable and lovely home. Florence shares personal stories of her time in France that lends a heartwarming element to the book. If you haven’t visited France, she creates the picture for you.
In many homes, the kitchen is considered the center of family life. A great kitchen is well planned, equipped with essential must-have cookware, and pantry items. The book goes into expansive detail about fruits, vegetables, garnishes and oils and how they contribute to making a kitchen thoroughly functional and divine. Recipes are included for items such as ham and cheese quiche, a quintessential French dish. Preserving and pickling fruits and vegetables is also considered a popular French pastime.
The Kitchen Garden
Whether it is a humble vegetable plot or an intricately designed garden, the French Kitchen Garden has evolved for centuries. Their designs, planting techniques, irrigation and drainage systems have been imitated throughout Europe. Special care was taken to enclose these gardens that protected even the most fragile herbs in winter. The book provides everything you need to know from garden essentials, tools, to how to create an herb garden. There’s even a recipe for rhubarb pie if you’re interested.
“Embracing the simple pleasures of a well-kept home will increase your happiness,” Florence professes. “Making an effort to tidy up and clean your surroundings will reward you with a positive outlook on life, and make you house-proud.” Her grandmother taught her that lemon, savon de Marseille, and lavender are three key ingredients that can clean and “improve” anything. The book expands into areas including the kitchen, bathroom, surfaces and materials, and her go-to general household tips. She also shares methods on how to remove stains from fabric and other material, and pests from your home.
Flowers and Plants Within
If you want to bring nature in doors, then flowers, plans and ornamental trees will help you achieve this. This is a sure way to beautify your surroundings. The book covers many aspects of the process including: preparing and conditioning cut flowers, how to extend their life, choosing a proper vase and creating an exquisite arrangement.
Entertaining at Home with Flair
The key to entertaining guests is to create an inviting atmosphere. Florence believes, if you need to hire help, do it. Everything from setting up the bar, choosing linens, silverware and centerpieces to casual entertaining outdoors is included in this extremely detailed and carefully executed book. Each of the 240 pages is filled with wonderful stories, tips, and examples that give you everything you could ever want to know.
If you’re looking for a fabulous book that lives up to its title, then check out, French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful.
Beautiful French Limoges Porcelain has always captured hearts and has the ability to inspire. To collectors, the beauty, incredible artwork and exceptional quality of Limoges porcelain surpass any other porcelain in the world. A collection of Limoges, edited and arranged in a contemporary style, is as beautiful as fine art in any interior. Best of all, Limoges porcelain is usable today. Vases hold lush floral bouquets, place settings set a gracious table and teacups are a most welcome indulgence when filled with steaming hot tea.
There is an incredible range of Limoges porcelain to collect, from full dinner services to precisely painted hatpins, from one‐of‐a‐kind hand-painted objects to transfer printed items. No matter what type of Limoges captures your heart, the history of Limoges is enchanting.
The History of Limoges China
The term “Limoges” refers to the hard‐paste porcelain produced by factories in Limoges, France, for over 200 years. The name of the city has become synonymous with the luxury porcelain products made by those factories. Hard‐paste porcelain is known as grand feu in French; it is porcelain that is fired at very high temperatures. Before kaolin clay was discovered in the town of Saint‐Yrieix‐la‐Perche in 1771, the Chinese were the only ones able to produce hard‐paste porcelain. Kaolin clay creates resilient, translucent porcelain, unlike any other porcelain.
The first factory, founded by brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet, was bought by Louis XVI, King of France, in 1784. The royal court commissioned exquisite dinner services to be made exclusively for the palaces of the King.By the beginning of the 1800s, several private factories began producing the porcelain. The French aristocracy were the main buyers of Limoges, commissioning vast dining services, vases and decorative pieces. At one time there were over 48 factories operating in Limoges.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
1. Look for the mark. Almost all Limoges is marked. Each factory had its own production and decorating marks. There are online resources where you can learn about the different Limoges marks. A very few pieces have no mark.
2. Study the quality of the porcelain. A genuine piece of Limoges porcelain will be translucent and bright white under the glaze. The glaze should be smooth and hard. Go to a reputable antiques shop to study Limoges pieces; after you’ve seen a few good pieces of Limoges, you will recognize it by the exceptional quality.
3. Look closely at the beauty and skill of the painting. The really good pieces of Limoges were painted by incredibly skilled artists. Many pieces of Limoges were painted and signed (or not) by an amateur artist. To determine whether to add these to your collection, look at the quality of painting. A piece of slightly inferior porcelain that is extremely well painted with a beautiful subject is superior to a piece of Limoges that is better in porcelain quality but poorly painted.
Bonjour! Have you ever been to Paris? The grand architecture, small alleys and winding cobble roads create a sense of wonder, romance and mystery. There’s no wonder Paris has the nickname of the City of Love. If you want to bring some of this romance into your own home, French antiques are the key.
Meet Lori Chandler, owner of Vignettes Antiques. Lori has been hunting down French antiques for over a decade and carefully curates her collection in her San Diego, California shop. Lori knows the secret to a dream home—to find pieces that are special and meaningful. “When you surround yourself with beloved vintage pieces, ones that you feel a connection with, not only will you have created your own signature look, but your home will stand apart with unsurpassed style,” she says.
Once you have the right pieces, you’ll want to display them so they shine. As her shop name suggests, Lori is a fan if vignettes, which are one way to create a beautiful display of various collectibles. Pair items with the same colors or materials. For example, in this display, Lori went with a brown and rust-colored theme, from the wicker jug and vintage French dress form to the rusted wheels, old books and weathered clock. She complemented the brown with bright blooms of white and peach, which makes the scene pop.
In this display, Lori applied the same principle, but instead used a garden theme to set the scene. Mushroom and bird statues, rustic baskets and outdoor dishware create a neutral base, and the bright greenery finishes it off.
Whether your French style aspirations include rustic industrial, glittery boutique or royal elegance, get out there to find those vintage pieces and allow your home to attain the romance of France.