French Country Decorating

Then + Now: What is French Provincial Style?

French Provincial style originated in the smaller cities and the countryside outside of Paris, mostly during the 18th century. Country manor homes were decorated with furnishings that emulated the highly-prized and valued furnishings found in the Parisian markets.

While manor owners were often affluent, they could not afford the pricey Parisian pieces. The demand for Parisian-inspired designs spawned  local craftsmen in the regions of Provence, Normandy, and Bordeaux to begin building furniture that was  simple and affordable with style of the high-end pieces.




While furnishing emulated Parisian-style, it had more relaxed features including farm tables with cabriole legs, and cupboards with simple scalloped carving base moldings. Dining chairs often had a country motifs like wheat pattern back  or a star back reflecting the country surroundings of the maker. The ladderback chair with a woven rush seat is the typical French Provincial dining chair.


Furniture characteristics:
Woods: Locally sourced Oak, Beech, and Pine.
Embellishments: Rosettes, Scallops, Contoured Legs.
Color: Brilliant paint finishes that gained character with time.

Today, reproductions feature similar attributes with light distressing or stains and glazes to replicate the patina. 



Country manor homes were built with large windows and doors. Manors were primarily built out of stone, stucco or brick. These classic homes featured brightly painted shutters that could be open and closed to allows sunlight and breezes inside.

French Provincial exterior characteristics:

  • Balanced exteriors often featuring pairs of windows or doors
  • Brick, stone and stucco exteriors
  • Pitched roof with slate and ceramic tiles
  • Tall narrow windows (often with arched tops)
Today, French Provincial style is still much revered and emulated in new construction. Many of the same tenet are used in today’s French Provincial homes. Large, balanced windows and doors, formal gardens with structured plantings, and stone and stucco exteriors.


French Provincial interiors today often have classic characteristics, including cabriole legs, painted furnishings and French fabrics.

Image: Pinterest

The popular French Provincial ladder back chair features a traditional woven rush seat is a classic. French-style tables often have painted bases with natural wood tops.

Image: Kate Madison

High ceilings are a tenet of French Provincial design. This modern kitchen recreates the feel of a manor in Provence with beamed ceilings, brick flooring, painted cabinetry and metal lanterns.

Image: Pinterest

Stone interior walls are accented by painted French Provincial armoire and desk. French fabrics such as toile, buffalo checks and linen soften the French room design.

Image: Veranda

A large, glass door French cupboard is the anchor in this French-inspired office. The writing table with cabriole legs and scalloped skirt adds French elegance to the space.

We hope you feel inspired to add a touch of French Provincial style to your home!


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