What is a French Country Kitchen?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A French country kitchen is a popular theme used in kitchen design. Inspired by country houses in France, the look is considered warm and inviting, yet lightly elegant, and is well-suited for both a cottage kitchen, as well as a large, stately home. Interpretation of the theme can vary widely depending upon personal preference, though it usually consists of earthy, Provençal colors and rustic decorating elements.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Painted wood is frequently used in a French country kitchen. This is done with the cabinetry in particular, as well as the furniture. Rich, warm colors, such as vermilion and gold, are often used, as well as lighter, earthier shades, including taupe and olive green. The earth tones are often employed as the wall colors of a French country kitchen, while the warmer shades are typically used as accents. Each Provence inspired theme, however, is individually interpreted by the decorator, and his or her own tastes, and the end result can in some cases be surprisingly modern and sophisticated.

The overall space utilized in this kitchen style is not considered important. People can use the French style in wide, open kitchens as well as tiny, cozy units. In larger spaces, the richer colors can be applied more dominantly to help achieve a cozier space if desired, while the lighter taupe and olive shades could be used to help smaller kitchens appear bigger.

Distressed wood, treated to appear weathered and rustic, is often used in French country kitchen design. Tables, lamps, and other pieces of furniture may be purposefully aged in order to achieve a more rural appearance. Furniture should be sturdy and functional, yet still appear very welcoming and inviting to guests. Exposed beams are another popular wooden addition to French kitchens.

Most French country kitchens feature antique metal accessories, such as cast iron pots or tin kitchenware. A kitchen armoire, which often holds this kitchenware, is frequently displayed in this type of kitchen. Floors should consist of natural materials, such as brick, clay, or ceramic tile. Flagstone is another popular flooring material in French country kitchens.

Natural lighting is typically employed when designing a French country kitchen. Rustic iron or brass light fixtures are the most popular choices for this look. Wood is another option used in lighting. Designers using French country decor may incorporate several types of lighting while keeping the look simple yet informal.

Various symbols and designs can be utilized to help further convey a French theme. Roosters are a popular French symbol, as are olives and grapes. Designers use these elements in country fabrics, as well as on the walls or kitchenware.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments


I love the French country style and I am planning on doing my kitchen in that style when we renovate the house next summer. I have been scouring design magazines trying to figure out how I want everything to look. As simple as this design is it is hard to pull off. It is as much about the way the space feels as it looks.

I have a friend who is an interior designer and she has been helping me a lot. She normally works in a more modern style, but she has such an amazing eye for design that she can make just about anything look the way you want it to.

I stayed a a bed and breakfast recently that had a beautiful French country kitchen. The proprietor was french and she told me that she tried to recreate the kitchen that her mother had. I imagine that she came pretty close.

It was a beautiful little place in Maine. The house was lovely and the area surrounding it was beautiful. But the best part was probably the breakfast, as silly as that sounds. The food was simple but elegant, kind of like the kitchen that it came out of.


I have a lot of French country kitchen decor in my kitchen. It is not exactly like a French country kitchen but I have done the best that I can. I do not have the money to renovate so I have to add things and make minor changes as I can.

I repainted the walls in this bright warm yellow color and I got new curtains for the windows. My big black refrigerator does not help things but what can you do?

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