New from British interiors writer Ros Byam Shaw, with photos by Jan Baldwin, Perfect French Country: Inspirational Interiors from Rural France takes readers on a tour of a dozen homes in the French countryside. “In a world that can seem overcrowded, the French countryside still feels big, gloriously empty, and refreshingly untamed,” she writes. “One of the great pleasures of writing this book was the lunches provided by hospitable owners who insisted we interrupt our work and sit down, if only for twenty minutes. Without exception these were simple, but memorable meals, eaten outdoors under a tree, or a vine-draped pergola.
“But this is not a book about food, it is a book about interiors, and how people arrange and decorate them. Here again, the French excel. Ever since the 17th and 18th centuries, when France led the way in all things fashionable including interior design, the French have displayed an enviable degree of domestic chic. When it comes to creating rooms that are both relaxed and elegant, French country house style is hard to beat. Fortunately, it is not impossible to emulate or borrow from, even if your own slice of paradise is on a different continent.”
Here are some favorite rooms from the book:
Frequently asked questions
What is French country style?
French country style is a comfortable, rustic-chic design aesthetic that is inspired by the French countryside. It typically features warm earthy colors, natural materials like wood and stone, and elegant yet relaxed furnishings.
What are some typical features of French country design?
Typical features of French country design include stone walls, hardwood floors, natural wood finishes, rustic furniture, textiles like linen and toile, aged metals, and earthy color palettes.
How can I incorporate French country style into my home?
You can incorporate French country style into your home by using natural materials like wood, stone, and brick; incorporating earthy colors like beige, ivory, and olive green; adding vintage or rustic furniture; layering textiles like linen and wool; and displaying eclectic decor like vintage pottery or aged metal accents.
What are some iconic French country design elements?
Some iconic French country design elements include large stone fireplaces, deep-set windows, wooden ceiling beams, cozy window seats, and antique furniture pieces like armoires and chairs.
What are some common misconceptions about French country style?
One common misconception about French country style is that it can only be achieved in large, grand homes. In fact, French country style can be adapted to any size or style of home. Another misconception is that it is overly formal or stuffy, when in fact French country design is all about comfort and relaxation.