French Country Colors

French country colors can be full-on or subtle. Check out these lovely French interior color combinations!

Flag-inspired French color schemes in red, blue, & white

♦ Country French seaside color schemes (if you're looking for subdued, mellow, delicate pastel French country colors)

♦ French country decorating ideas for neutrals-plus-one.
Or ...

Just add gold! Country French decorating from château to cottage.

(Of course, the French have come up with more country color combinations than these - at the bottom of this page, you'll find a list of suggested further reading => more pictures of country French color schemes!)

'Patriotic' French Country Colors

french country colors: rustic plate above a stone doorway

Even though they're red, blue & white ...

French country colors are nothing like the French flag.  It's much more subtle than that.

'Blue' can be:

  • aqua
  • cornflower
  • blue-gray
  • near-lavender
  • midnight blue

'Red' can be:

  • cherry
  • pomegranate
  • strawberry
  • tomato
  • raspberry ice-cream
  • peachy pink

'White', of course, can cover the whole gamut of

  • milky white
  • antique white
  • ivory
  • light gray
  • stone
  • the gray of unbleached linen
  • and taupe.

In the picture above, a doorway inside a Provençal house has a piece of 'door jewelry' above the lintel - a simple earthenware bowl in a deep, burnished red.

Through the door, you see a wall painted sky blue, with the lower part a slightly muddied, dark cherry red that picks up the color of the bowl.

Now, you won't need a home with rough-hewn interior stone walls to recreate this color scheme for your own French country style home.

red-blue-grey-white color scheme

Here's how you could 'translate' the color combination into French country colors for a modern house or apartment:

  • Keep the major, upper part of the walls in shades of gray and/or white, with woodwork and details in white or light cream for a fresh look.
  • Paint the lower part of the walls (up to chair rail height) either in a grayish red or a discolored, chalky blue that is darker than the upper (gray) part.
  • Use a variety of blues, reds, grays and creams/whites for soft furnishings and accents.
  • It usually works best when one color dominates against the gray/white neutral background (so you could decide on red or blue as the dominant color). But it's not strictly necessary - if you'd rather achieve a 'happy hotchpotch' French country decorating effect, go for it!
  • To make sure this color scheme doesn't end up looking too sober, liven it up by using different hues/shades of these French country colors, as in the illustration to the right. That will give the room more depth.

French daybed in an antique mirror

The following versions of the red-blue-white French country decorating theme show how materials, style, and wall color can impact the overall look.

The photo to the left (that is, when you look into the mirror) shows an antique metal day bed, in a room with light blue walls and terracotta flooring.

(My apologies for not showing you the whole day bed - at the time I took the picture I was much more interested in the mirror frame!)

  • The mattress is wrapped in a deep, almost salmon pink quilt.
  • The cushions (now this is the part where you'll just have to believe me!) come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They're covered in...
       * red velvet
       * soft pink velvet
       * white lace (some with ruffles), and
       * blue-and-white striped cotton.
  • The sumptuous, indulgent look & feel of the materials, shapes and colors is tempered by the cool, pale blue walls and the rough, rustic flooring.

Compare that to the wall color and flooring in this next picture of French country colors: similar color scheme - totally different effect!

rustic French living room in blue, red & grey

The walls in deep, chalky pink and 'blueberry ice cream' red could look suffocating, but they don't.

I think this is for several reasons:

  • The hues of red and pink used here are bluish rather than yellowish (which would be much more cloying).
  • The light - very bright light, the kind you get in Mediterranean countries or in Southern California, 'washes' colors out.
  • The grayish blue of the door is a large expanse of cool, subdued color that interrupts the succession of red color fields (including the sofa in the foreground).
  • The gray cement flooring and the white marble table and porcelain vase - that's 'neutral relief' from all the full-on reds and pinks.

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French Country Colors In Soft, Seaside Hues

seaside blue, white and brown color scheme

The following blues and greens aren't strictly reserved for the seaside.

They would be perfectly appropriate as French country colors anywhere in the country -

  • a cottage on the North Sea coast,
  • a house surrounded by the Bordeaux vineyards, or
  • a holiday flat in the Mediterranean region.

I've added some wood to the mix - the yellowish-orange wood tones are complementary to the cool blue-greens and can inject some warmth into a cool, muted color combination (should you need it).

So for a completely 'cool' look,

  • leave out the wood, or
  • paint it white.

These greens and grayed blues look very good with

  • a brick floor,
  • terracotta tiles, or
  • cement (tile) flooring.
  • In their absence, coarse rush matting would do a very nice job as well.

For a fresh, clean look:

  • use lots of antique-white colored items in addition to the blues and greens. Linen (and maybe some lace) can contribute a real sense of luxury.

If you want to create more of a vintage feel:

  • team the seaside colors with unbleached linen and cotton duck in darker hues of green, blue and gray.
green garden chair against a green wall, France
  • Add white and ivory accents, like simple porcelain, sheer curtains, and fabrics with white stripes or checks.

Wrought-iron garden furniture is a staple in country French decorating - and of course these pieces are often painted in French country colors.

These chairs are at home on the terrace as much as in the living-room, in the kitchen or around an informal dinner table.

If you look at the color combination in the picture to the right, you see that the color of the chair is at odds with the wall color - the dark, leafy green is yellow biased, and the wall is more on the turquoise side.

Color combinations like this one are great for French country decorating (and for country decor in general); a slight color 'mismatch' can look much more alive and interesting than a perfectly matched French country colors.

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French Country Colors With Neutrals

French country living room, detail

This is a favorite with contemporary country French decorating.

Walls are rendered but not painted, and then teamed with

  • linen in natural hues,
  • 'rustic' cotton twill in solid colors, and
  • ticking.

These hardwearing fabrics look great in combination with simple shapes (like the divan here), rustic flooring and undulating walls.

You could include more patterned fabrics - stripes and checks in French country colors work very well, but the odd piece of toile de jouy  won't go amiss either.

French Gustavian chair upholstered in grey linen

Some people opt for entirely neutral French country color schemes.

The chair here is an example of Louis XVI furniture (with neo-classical, straight legs), interpreted in a pure white-and-'greige' color scheme.

These aren't strictly French country colors, but they do look good, particularly within a restrained room color scheme. (There's more about this on the French Country Decorating page.)

Other color themes that really work in French country decorating:

  • neutrals & green (use the whole gamut from turquoise through grass green to chartreuse)
  • neutrals & blue (go from deep indigo to sky blue; include greenish hues, and a bit of white as well)
  • neutrals & pink; this looks great if you use several different hues of pink, deep berry pinks as well as soft peachy ones, and a variety of neutrals - ivory, cream, écru, oatmeal, etc.  (If you just used baby pinks and whites, it wouldn't look right for French country decorating).
  • neutrals & red; there's an example of this in my free e-book, Stylish Neutrals. It uses a range of reds (from burgundy to burnt orange), plus darkish browns, plus white (lots!) and velvety, mid-tone gray.
yellow plus neutral color scheme
  • Last not least, neutrals & yellow. To make a load of yellow hues work, include generous helpings of gray and white.

    Decide on a selection of darker yellow hues (ochre, mustard - great French country colors!) and/or lighter tints (butter, straw, primrose, sunflower) and maybe add some greenish and/or earthy hues (umber, sienna) for accents.

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French Country Colors Plus Gold

French painted ceiling color schemes with gold accents

So let's say you've decided on a pink, pale blue and cream combination of French country colors.

Would you like some gold with that? In French country interior decorating, there's nothing wrong with gilding, ever.

If they're doing it in castles, why not do it in cottages? The left and middle photos above show ornate ceilings in Chenonceau, a superbly beautiful, small castle that straddles the river Cher in the Loire valley. (Well worth a visit if you get a chance!)

The photo right is from a small country house in a tiny village in the South of France. Imagine going to sleep with a view to faintly glowing, golden 'stars' on your ceiling!

So go ahead and mix in some gold with your French country colors. If you're not used to this approach, start slowly and then, gradually, ramp up the glam factor by adding gold to:

  • picture frames
  • glass & china
  • picture mats
  • door frames
  • crown moulding
  • wall stencils
  • bedheads
  • parts of the ceiling
  • parts of walls (see examples on the Country French Bedroom page!)

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  • What is French country interior decorating? Here are some characteristics of French country interior design.
    (A good place to get started!)
  • Fun, frugal French country decorating ideas in French Country Decor On A Shoestring. (Contains a section on French country colors not covered on this page.)
  • For more French country decor ideas - creative, simple, easy to copy (& mostly frugal) - read the page on French Country Interior Decorating.
  • For window treatments with attitude, check out the page about French Country Curtains.
  • Provence, home of painters and poets, is one of France's country decorating 'hotspots'. (Features a selection of full-on French country colors).
  • Create French flair for your home with the help of French Wall Art (buy it, or ... fake it!)
  • Decorating With Toile has great potential and even greater pitfalls. Here are 40+ tips & tricks to help you get it right.
  • Looking to remodel your kitchen? French Country Kitchen Design shows you which design elements you need for a kitchen à la française.
  • If you want a 'lite' version of the kitchen makeover (just a little French flavor), then French Country Kitchens will provide you with plenty of ideas for your project (including - you guessed it - tips on French country colors!)
  • Beyond French country interior decorating: French Interior Design is quirky, elegant, outrageous and seriously chic.
  • For support with choosing the right color schemes, have a look at a collection of Color Information and a whole page full of Living Room Color Schemes - you may be surprised at how different the same living room can look!
  • Neutral Color Schemes - The Book:
    Learn about using neutral color palettes in your (French-style) home.   Understand what makes neutral color schemes look their best, and what happens when you inject 'real' color into neutral color palettes.   It's FREE!!

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