French country kitchen design: Here's what you need to know to create authentic-looking French country kitchens.
You can buy ready-made (or customized) kitchens with evocative names like "Provence" or "Arles" or "Avignon".
Will that give you an authentic French country kitchen? Not necessarily.
Real French kitchens rarely look like the fanciful creations of ambitious kitchen suppliers.
So have a look at this list of French country kitchen design elements ...
... before you go ahead and spend a lot of money.
Clicking on the links will take you to the relevant sections on this page:
N.B. If you're looking for shortcuts to help you create the look, rather than a complete kitchen makeover, check out the page on French Country Kitchens for ideas and pictures.
The style of French country kitchen cabinetry isn't as important as many people think - your French country kitchen needn't ever have heard of Louis XIV, XV or XVI.
Outside France, 'French country' kitchens are sometimes designed to look ornate and curvy (and sometimes downright frilly).
Inside France, country kitchen cupboards are generally simple, with minimal decoration or even completely plain fronts.
Contemporary French country kitchens often combine open shelving with curtains and some closed cupboards under the worktop (when you look at the first three illustrations on this page, you'll see what I mean).
Kitchen Nuts & Bolts: For some highly usable kitchen design info (not just of the French kind) have a look at Best Kitchen Ideas, a site that's saturated with down-to-earth tips for all corners of your kitchen (old, new, or in-between ;-}
If you want authentic French country kitchen design, flagstones or
tiles are top candidates for your kitchen floor.
If neither tiles nor flagstones are an option, consider
PS) No wood flooring? I haven't seen it much in French country kitchens. (But don't let that keep you from having wood or laminate flooring in yours.)
French country kitchen curtains, hung from the worktop (as in the illustrations above), can be a very easy and convenient way to create instant French country kitchen design.
Even if you changed nothing else in your current kitchen, this type of French country kitchen curtains would add bucketloads of 'French Country' flavor to your kitchen.
Next, hang another set of French country kitchen curtains (of the same fabric, color and/or pattern) at the window(s). This may be all you need to do, to transform your kitchen into an oasis of Gallic charm.
There is one drawback to replacing cupboard doors with French country kitchen curtains: dust. Curtains allow it in, and they spread it around. If you're prepared to deal with that, below-countertop curtains are an easy, elegant feature of French country kitchen design.
If you need ideas for color schemes, there's a list on the French Country Kitchens page, and another, more comprehensive list on the page about French Country Colors. In addition, check out the illustrations above for some more kitchen color ideas!
Splashbacks in French country kitchens are usually tiled; slightly irregular, glazed earthenware with a 'handmade' look, as well as stone or terracotta tiles, are all good options. If you want to spend a lot of money, you could have your splashback set with a large slab of marble (but that's rather posh for French country kitchen design)
For countertops, you'll find a wide range of materials in use:
Not really - at least not if you're aiming for original French country kitchen design.
Traditionally, a country kitchen in France is not just for preparing the meal, it's also the place for eating it. Dining rooms are practically unheard of in rustic French dwellings (there are different rules for châteaux, of course!)
If you want to follow that tradition, have a kitchen table instead of a kitchen island (unless, of course, your kitchen has space for both!)
Collect friends and family round the table, and serve them food that's loaded with the mouthwatering flavors of sun-ripened ingredients.
Better yet, get them to come early and prepare the meal together with you!
Pour them a glass of Chablis or Beaujolais whilst they're sitting at your kitchen table, peeling the garlic, chopping the courgettes, and dishing the latest goss! (Actually - discussing the merits of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Or, uh, comparing notes on Carla Bruni's fashion choices ... you know what I mean!)
Fabulous French Cooking:
It's easier than you might think to impress your guests with authentic French fare! Check out my friend Kim's website, Easy French Food.
Kim has lived in France for almost two decades; she's passionate about French cooking and shows how to prepare fine French food without any of the fuss.
For example, take a peek at her mouthwatering French dessert recipes!
Old wooden benches, wooden chairs with straw seats (the one in this picture here is painted blue, but you get the idea), and wooden stools are some obvious candidates.
Putting wrought-iron garden chairs around the kitchen table is also a widespread practice in French country kitchens, but that wouldn't be a good idea on a high-maintenance floor.
You can integrate any run-of-the-mill chair into your French country kitchen design by slipcovering it (either just the back, or just the seat, or the complete chair).
To create a unified look, and for added comfort, kit the chairs out with comfy cushions that are covered in the same fabric as the French country kitchen curtains.
There are loads of things you can do to add rustic detail to your kitchen.
Whatever you keep on view can enhance the originality, or the 'wow' factor, or the authenticity of your French country kitchen design.
You'll find loads of ideas and pictures on the French Country Kitchens page.
Good Luck - and do send me a picture of your brand new French country style kitchen when you're done!