They’re effortless with their stone facades and stucco walls, rustic green gardens, and cozy interiors filled with exposed beams and a roaring fireplace. French country homes are a well-loved house style that you’ll find throughout the US – and there’s no need to move to France just to live in one.
So what exactly can you expect from a French country house? We’ll give you all the details, from the history to the floor plans and the classic characteristics. Let’s dive in.
What is a French country style house?
While you may initially think French country homes are filled with grandeur and sport massive exteriors, these homes are more rustic and effortless. These historic-looking homes incorporate European and French architecture into the modern day. Sometimes called the Provençal style and inspired by the homes in France’s Provence region, these homes have more natural finishes and designs compared to the ornate Parisian homes.
History of French country architecture
French country architecture takes inspiration from nature and the home’s surrounding location. These homes aren’t the same as the French provincial style, which was inspired by the reign of King Louis XIV. French country houses made their way to the US after World War I. Soldiers brought the architectural style they saw throughout the countryside back to the US, building homes that evoked this natural French country feel.
As a result, you can find French country houses across the country, depending on where many veterans settled post-war. Like many home styles, the French country style has ebbed and flowed over the years. Today, the style has blended with some of the modern farmhouse-style interiors that have also become popular.
French country house plans
The floor plans for a French country home are similar to farmhouse style homes. Upon entering, you’ll likely find a formal living space with the kitchen, living space, and dining area set in the back of the home. You may also find a hearth or keeping room located off the kitchen.
If the home is two stories, the bedrooms will be located on the second floor. You may also find an additional room on the first floor, commonly used as a study. Some French country homes have porches with columns, although don’t expect to see these on all homes of this style.
Design elements of French country homes
The French country house has a wealth of different design features that evoke a European style. From the exterior construction to the interior design, here’s just a view of what you may find in these homes.
Natural stone or stucco exteriors: Many homes have stone, brick, or stucco facades. Typically the exterior is constructed out of one material, but you may find combinations, especially in two-story homes.
Tall, sloped roof: You’ll often find a hip roof, where the four corners of a roof point down to the ground. This sloping roof is often tiled with overlapping barrel-shaped tiles in shades of beige, brown, or red. Some modern homes have darker-colored roofs with flatter tiles.
Tall windows: Windows are often tall, rectangular, and arched at the top. The window height often makes the façade look much taller.
Shuttered windows: You may also find many of the windows styled with wooden shutters intended to keep out the heat of the sun’s light. In modern French country houses, these shutters may be functional or decorative.
Double chimney: Unlike other home styles, French country homes typically have two chimneys, one on each side of the house, giving it the symmetry that these houses are known for.
Porch: Many homes have a front porch supported by columns and featuring a wood-planked or brick floor.
Exposed wood beams: One of the hallmarks of French countryside architecture is exposed wood trusses and beams. Many homes also have wood ceilings, often painted white to blend in the walls.
Plaster walls: You’ll typically find plaster walls, often white, which give the home a smooth and rustic finish.
French doors: It wouldn’t be a French country house without French doors. These doors originated in the 17th century and are double with several glass panes from the top of the doors to the bottom. They emphasize the home’s natural light, coordinating with the many large windows throughout the home.
Wood or stone floors: Keeping with the natural theme, homes often have reclaimed wood, stone, brick, and sometimes tile floors.
Neutral and rustic color scheme: The home décor often reflects the home’s rustic feel, so you usually won’t find bright colors. Popular colors include soft yellows, whites and creams, beiges, light grays, and blues.
Soft lines: Unlike many contemporary homes, you won’t find sleek and sharp lines in the furnishings or architecture. Furniture is meant to look lived-in and cozy, so consider plushy sofas, curved chairs, and round or oval tables.
Tips for decorating in the French country style
Whether you’re looking to buy a French country style home or updating your current home or rental, here are some classic design tips for decorating in the French country style.
Natural upholstery: Choose furniture with natural-looking upholstery in shades of cream, pale yellow, and white, and fabrics like linen and wool.
French country accessories: Incorporate décor like porcelain dishware and blue and white toile-patterned accent pieces.
Wood furnishings: The rustic wood furniture is a classic, whether with a dining table, accent chairs, or flooring. Extra points if the wood has a distressed look or is reclaimed.
Antique décor: In French country homes, antiques are the perfect accessory to complement the space. Whether that’s decorating your kitchen with worn copper pots, displaying vintage ceramics on an end table, or hanging an antique painting or clock on the wall, there are many ways to bring antiques into your space.
Neutral colors: As mentioned above, opt for neutrals when it comes to your interior, with pops of color in light blues or muted greens.
How to find a French country home in your area
If you’ve found that French country style homes are your cup of tea, Redfin can help you find one in your area.
2. Near the top of the next page, on the right side, you will see “All filters.” Click on that and scroll to the “Keywords” box near the bottom of the page.
3. Type the word “French” or “French country” into the Keywords box and press Apply Filters. That’s it. Homes within the city name or zip code you entered will populate the page, and you’ll be able to begin your search.