When designing a kitchen, most people focus tightly on organization and efficiency. While those truly are important considerations, don’t forget to give your kitchen a personality as well as functionality. One classic kitchen decorating theme is the French country look.
A French country kitchen makes you feel as if you have just walked into a cottage in rural France. Such a kitchen reflects a joy of living and importance of family and friends. Whether you live in a high-rise urban condominium or a split-level in the suburbs, you can bring the warmth and beauty of the French countryside to your own kitchen. The combination of many small touches is what gives a French country kitchen its vibrant, romantic feel.
Color plays a major role in a French country kitchen. If you stepped into the kitchen of a French country cottage, you would probably find walls painted either a butter or mustard yellow, with cupboards painted cornflower blue or even salmon pink. Of course, you could choose to make your walls blue and use the lighter shades as accents.
In the country kitchens of France, natural light is part of the decor. Window dressings are often simple Roman shades. Fabric choices range from canvas to toile, solid to stripped or even prints of fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Speaking of herbs, one simple French country detail is the presence of lavender. Hang a bunch of dried lavender from a hook on the ceiling or the wall, or stand a clump in a wall vase, and you’ll bring the scent of the French countryside into your kitchen.
Accessories for a French country kitchen are almost always functional. A tall terra cotta or copper vase serves as countertop storage for spatulas and other cooking utensils. Open, freestanding racks made of copper or wrought iron hold plants as well as placemats, napkins, and serving bowls. Ceramic trivets with rooster or herb designs can be displayed on walls when not in use on the table.
A plain, pine work table doubles as a place for family and friends to gather for meals or simply to socialize. Be sure to choose a size table that won’t interrupt the traffic flow in your kitchen. If you have a very small galley style kitchen, you might want to skip this element. In the kitchen, the difference between cramped and cozy is enough to ruin any mood.
Since French country kitchens are small by nature, their owners make the best use of every possible space. Instead of traditional cabinets they often opt for vertical storage. Wrought iron ceiling racks keep frequently used pots and pans handy. Pot racks are very popular in kitchens around the world, and are therefore easy to find. In fact, you’ll be surprised at the wide range of styles and sizes available. You can achieve the French country look even if your kitchen doesn’t lend itself to an overhead pot rack. Strong hooks on the wall or on a solid core door will give save cabinet space and add to the country feel of your kitchen.
©2005, Kathy Burns-Millyard