You can spend hours trawling through photos of a ‘look’ you love, and still not quite know the best way to achieve it.

This series of posts cuts out the work for you, and breaks it down into the elements you want.

 The French provincial look is hot right now.  And no wonder – it looks relaxed and welcoming.  It feels as though families have lived there for generations, laying down memories, reading books in the shade, eating on the terrace beneath ancient vines: an idyllic contrast to our stressed and technological lifestyle.

Here are some easy ways to get that look in your own home.

Flagstones

Flagstone floors conjure up images of fairytale cottages, of boots piling the entry of manor houses, of a life lived outdoors. 

Using these on your floors can hark back to times gone by – just make sure they look slightly worn.

Floorboards

If flagstones aren’t your thing, floorboards can add the patina of age.  Steer away from new floating floors and neat edges and choose recycled wood with marks, dents and a rich colour.

If you want a softer look, you can lime them – this gives them a silvery glow, as though worn smooth by the feet of generations.

Mismatched furniture

French houses collect furniture through the generations.  Chairs are bought over the centuries and the variety of styles adds to the charm.  This is not a style that calls for a three-piece suite.

Wood kitchen

Baking bread over a fire, arranging flowers from the hedgerow, sipping hot chocolate from a bowl (the french way) – all in a stunning kitchen.  Eschew the stainless steel and formica for natural wood.  Freestanding dressers and pine tables or cabinets built-in local wood create the homely atmosphere for long lazy lunches.

Fill free-standing dressers with sets of old crockery – in french blue or rose and white.

Florals

While chintz may be English, soft florals look so pretty in a french cottage.

french floral fabric

Soft colours

chaise francaise

Keep colours as soft as the light at dawn.  Blush rose pinks, and grey blues, add touches of sage green or a little yellow to give it a lift.  White should be muted too – no harsh pure white here, but a chalky hue.

Toile de jouy

Toile de jouy is the ultimate french fabric – its monochomatic palette and timeless design is fabulous in almost any room – and certainly makes this theme sing.  You can cover a whole room in it, or use it for cushions or curtains.  It goes beautifully with a stripe of the same colour.

Old french doors

Many architectural salvage yards now have old doors.  Replacing your doors with a pair of these, or even propping them against a wall will add immediate character to your room.

Zinc and Iron

Old zinc and iron furniture really hits the mark with this look.  The more battered the better.  Add urns filled with flowers, old books and hand-blown glass.

Even if a watering can is all you can afford – it’ll still do the job…

Lastly, pile your home with lavender, rosemary and olive branches – all the beautiful silvery boughs that flourish in the warm sun and sandy soils of France.

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