Ways To Create a French or Old World Farmhouse Look inside your home no matter what your budget is.
I am a bit of an interior design enthusiast. Always have been. I have designed many rooms for my home and have helped friends or clients do the same. All in the name of fun. Creating a unique space with beautiful accenting colors is necessary in order for a home to have the right charm. That’s my opinion anyway. My most recent obsession is the creation of a french farmhouse, cottage style if you will, in our home.
Trial and Error
Now when I bought this home it had country written all over it and this is probably not news to you if you have read any of my past posts on the subject. Well here I am almost two years into this place having painted the entire house inside and out only to find my style suddenly taking on a new shape.
Truth be told I went way too modern for this 70 year old house sitting on a country style road in town. People would enter and remark on how country it felt in this house, nevermind any of the updates I had done to bring it into this decade. No matter what I did, it had a feeling I could not decorate over.
The funny thing is, I really wasn’t huge fan of modern style. Even in my most modern I was drawn to the glam and retro styles of the 1950’s. I did like most people do when trying to throw a home look together in a matter of weeks so we could move in. I went with the newer styles of today. The gray toned walls, clean white kitchen cabinets and Ikea furnituire. It was for sure cute. But it did not reflect this old house of mine and more importantly it didn’t reflect me. I now have become a firm believer in living in a space for a bit and slowly changing it to refelct your personal style.
Getting It Right
The personality I have can be described as a mack truck. Full of force at times. I get an idea and I will be in the aisles of Lowes within minutes. Arriving home ready to dive in and complete the task in the same evening it was thought up. In many ways this is a good thing, but it can also have you spending more money and time on the wrong things.
Age and time has taught me that when it comes to styling a space, living there for a bit first is essential. Let the space tell you what works best instead of forcing it to be something it is not.
Trying to make a vintage home modern or a modern home vintage is an uphill battle. This isn’t to say that you can’t have elements of these things in your space. It just means that it will take time, patience, imagination and lots of inspiration to make it happen.
My true style is what I would call old world. Antiques, oil paintings, copper on the walls and crusty worn furniture call my name. And maybe yours too if you are reading this in hopes to gain a bit of knowledge in this old worldstyle.
The first thing you will need is time and patience. This is not an overnight style.
It is a curated one that is collected, cultivated and eventually mastered over time.
I want to be clear on my vision or design inspiration if you will. This won’t be a fancy farmhouse with crystal chandeliers and bonjour signs from Old World Market, no. Although a rustic chandelier wouldn’t hurt and I certainly decided on a gold Italian chandlelier for this space.
What will be is a blend of real wood, copper, worn items and rustic textures to off balance the bit of fancy any chandelier brings to the space. We are going for authentic here. A real European farmhouse.
Furthermore, I want this house to feel like you stepped right into another simpler time where everything inside tells a story of its own but somehow blends seamlessly to make my European farmhouse. For this look you will need copper.
European ladies loved and still love copper. It’s a signature look really and a true kitchen staple in France. It has gained popularity here in the states too but only in more modern times.
Copper was hung in kitchens and dining areas for practical purposes as storage was often limited
These pots, or molds were hung in masses in most homes and were likely used on a daily basis. Copper should be a staple in your French or old world decor.
Fabrics and Textiles
Next item to bring in is fabrics and textiles. The typical European farmhouse housed lots of tea cloth’s, linens, worn curtains and even aprons. For this style one of the best parts is the ability to actually use the things we are placing inside the kitchen while letting go of the idea that they need to be or remain in perfect condition.
I have hung a curtain underneath my kitchen sink and removed the doors. To compliment this I built a work table and stapled a tattered fabric underneath. To go along with the theme of fabrics are rugs. The woven kind if you can find them. No modern prints or patterns. Be simple here.
Dried Flowers and Herbs
Hanging flowers and herbs to dry. What an unusual style technique right? Well its very rustic and useful, which is exactly why it gives a cottage style feel. Do it throughout your home if possible.
I hang cuttings from lavender, rosemary and any dried flowers I can gather from my garden. If you are interested in having your own cut flower garden, you can learn some easy flowers to grow here.
If you have the DIY spirit as I do. I have a tutorial on how I dry brushed this door to look worn here.
Gallery Walls and Art
Lining your walls with a collection of real art pieces in a gallery style fashion is a great way to add instant old world charm to any room. You can do this with antique plates, oil pantings, or even a collection of antique wall hangings. In our house I have them throughout in various forms. You don’t need a huge collection. Just a few pieces will do.
Diving a bit deeper into this look. When I am shopping or thinking of what needs to be added to a room. Specifically a kitchen, I consider the women who cooked in these spaces.
These women worked hard and, likely cooked several times a day. Often growing their own produce. It is safe to assume that food would be brought inside the farmhouse by basket. They might use that same basket to store the food for funtionality.
Moreover, storage in these times was presumably furniture with open shelving or finding pockets underneath tables to tuck away items. It is no stretch to the imagination that these items would be chipped from heavy usage, have worn wood or worn out leather straps on trunks.
Bread was a staple in their diets which meant it had to be baked often and this is where a vintage scale might make sense to add to the asthetic.
Items To Look Out For
Oil paintings, lamps and worn wooden cutting boards. These are just to name a few items that I am regularly on the hunt for and if you are wanting this type of space, I suggest you add these to your list as well. When it comes to art it is important that they be real paintings or a very high quality fine art print in a vintage frame. Veer away from canvas prints as those won’t due. Only seek out geniune pieces or high quality replicas that speak to a quaint life and time. Following this rule will give your space that added authenticity this look requires.
Some other items to consider are rolling pins, baskets, a furniture piece or cozy chair in the kitchen.
Next up, is color.
It is no secret that Europeans love their colors. Green, blues and yellow to name some popular choices. Don’t go with your basic white for furniture.
My big mistake, I had lots of white in my kitchen which I kept and couldn’t quite figure out why the kitchen didn’t feel like the rest of the house.
To fix this, I brought in color. The faux 1680 french tile is made to look weathered and old. I believe it pairs nicely with the blue cabinets. It gave it an instant make over. Color is powerful, never underestimate it.
Additionally, are the small but useful accessories. Candle holders, pitchers (flowers look beautiful in ones your not using), old books to set around on shelves, table clothes, a vintage clock or two and hooks to hang those copper pots you find.
The theme to this entire blog post is to try to get into the mind or the lifestyle of those that lived in these marvelous homes with this unique asthetic.
While it is fun to look at stores, be sure to go around your own home. Seek out small things you can rearrange and even paint or change to suit this style. I have found all sorts of small items placed around my house that I have repurposed and rearranged to give a different feel. Adding in items here and there.
Remember to have fun with it. Experiment. Make your space your own and add some of these small touches. Over time, they will become second nature to you.