By Lisa Marie Conklin
Creating a French country kitchen doesn't have to be a daunting or expensive endeavor. There are just a few key components needed to transform your existing kitchen into a warm and rustic provincial country kitchen.
A French country kitchen wouldn’t be complete without wooden beams on the ceiling. You can be truly authentic and install wood beams that are hollow, distressed, or made from reclaimed lumber. Or you can buy faux wood beams that are much lighter and less expensive. Keep the ceiling a warm white to color accentuates the beams for an authentic rustic European farmhouse feel.
Distress in the Details
The cabinets in a French country kitchen often resemble cherished, worn furniture, in midtone kinds of wood like walnut or alder. To get the look, attach molding, curved panels, and scrolls to plain-base cabinets. Upper cabinets should contrast the base cabinets with a lighter wood stain or paint color in a distressed finish.
No French country kitchen wouldn’t be complete without the addition of toile. This recognizable element of European fabric is a motif that encompasses 18th-century pastoral country scenes, courting scenes, or farm animals and Chinese patterns on a creamy-white or yellow background with a large motif in a single contrasting color, such as black, blue, red, or green. Be sure to include decorative pieces and motifs that include roosters, sunflowers, olive leaves, and grape leaves. These elements can be sprinkled around the kitchen in forms of art, curtains, linens, tiles, rugs, decorative plates, and knick-knacks. Hand-painted or stenciled motifs provide a homespun feel when painted on islands, bar stools, or kitchen chairs.
What says “country” in a kitchen better than chicken wire? Upper cabinet doors with chicken wire are quintessentially French country. If you have glass doors, you can have the glass removed and install chicken wire to display wine glasses, dishes, or a collection of pottery. If your cabinet doors are solid, an insert can be designed and cut out of the wood, leaving it open for chicken wire. Open shelving is another option. Simply remove the upper cabinet doors of your choice and display your everyday items or special collections.
A sturdy island in a distressed finish that doesn’t necessarily match the woods in the upper and lower cabinets lends itself to the old world charm of a French country kitchen. Use stencils or free-hand your way to paint a motif on the end pieces of the bar or incorporate a rooster or olive leaves on the bar stools. Over-sized pendant lights hanging over the island bestow warmth than a bright and often harsh light from recessed or basic ceiling fixtures. Finally, if you have room, a sturdy armoire is a must-have to really pull the look together. Leave the doors open or take them off to display soft-hued pottery, dishes, pitchers, and wicker or wrought iron baskets filled with herbs and produce.
Traditional French country kitchens have wide-plank dark wood or natural stone floors. If you don’t have either, you can create country charm by adding rugs made of wool or cotton. Rugs in earth tones add a texture element and provide warmth for cold mornings.
Your French country design kitchen is well within reach when you infuse your space with these unmistakably French provincial suggestions. You may even be tempted to paint, “Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup,” (eat well, laugh often, love abundantly) on a piece of reclaimed wood to hang in your kitchen!
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