In this post: If you’re a fan of French country decor but you feel it’s outdated, here are ways to modernize your style to French rustic chic.⇒
I was so sure I knew my style.
Over the years I’ve heard so many people talking about how they’ve struggled to find their design style to incorporate in decorating their homes. Yet for me it was crystal clear.
Or so I thought.
As it turns out, my taste is at heart still the same, but the application has evolved in quite a big way. Let me explain.
In the early years of adulthood, when I first became interested in decorating, I experimented with many different design styles. My taste varied widely at that point, comprising vast swings from ultra-modern to classic traditional, with even a brief stint of Southwestern decor. Ok, that one was very brief.
In time, I gravitated toward English country, eventually settling comfortably on a distinct French Country aesthetic. I delighted in the pattern mixes, the curved furniture lines and the detailed embellishments and flourishes. But mostly I fell in love with the timeworn beauty of antiques.
Collecting became a passion and hunting through markets and vintage shops became my preferred activity for a relaxing day off.
I decorated my home primarily in this French style, with the occasional influence from the English countryside. I was rock solid about what I liked and disliked, and I stayed with the look for many years.
But then something began to change.
When we first moved into our current townhouse, I brought everything over from our previous home. I used the same paint colors, placed the furniture where it seemed to fit naturally, and had a downsized version of the home that I brought up my children in.
Yet, very quickly, in the new environment, it started to feel very stale. Did I no longer enjoy French style? No, that wasn’t it at all. I loved my French pieces as much as ever. But something felt very off. It looked entirely outdated.
So I started to analyze why. What exactly was feeling dated? Where did I need to refresh? And I came up with my current aesthetic, what I now call modern French Country (or alternatively French rustic chic). It is still rooted in the basic essence of French design with lots of antiques and classic French details, but updated in lighter colors and mixing easily with some modern pieces.
You can see the progression in the various iterations of our family room which has evolved over the course of our time in this home. The coffee table alone has gone through several changes, from old-school chunky pine wood to a more feminine painted cane table, to a distressed rustic chic light wood piece.
Let’s take a look at the difference between traditional French Country and its more modern update to see how to achieve that look in your home.
Traditional vs Modern French Country
Traditional French country decor and modern French country decor are two distinct styles that draw inspiration from the rustic charm of the French countryside. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.
- Design Elements: Traditional French country decor emphasizes ornate and intricate details. It often incorporates elements such as carved woodwork, embellished furniture, and decorative motifs like fleur-de-lis. On the other hand, modern French country decor adopts a simpler and more streamlined approach. It focuses on clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and a blend of rustic and contemporary elements.
- Color Palette: Traditional French country decor typically features a warm and earthy color palette. It includes hues like rich creams, deep blues, rustic reds, and soft yellows. Modern French country decor, on the other hand, tends to incorporate a lighter and more neutral color scheme. It often includes shades of white, gray, beige, and subtle pastels to create an airy and contemporary feel.
- Furniture Style: Traditional French country decor often incorporates antique or vintage furniture pieces with intricate carvings and details. Furniture pieces tend to have a more formal and ornate appearance. Modern French country decor, in contrast, combines rustic elements with contemporary design. It features furniture with cleaner lines and a more casual, relaxed vibe. Mixing old and new pieces is common in this style.
- Textiles and Patterns: Both styles feature textiles and patterns, but the choices differ. Traditional French country decor utilizes classic patterns like toile, florals, and intricate damasks. Fabrics are often richly textured and have a sense of luxury. In modern French country decor, you may find a mix of traditional and contemporary patterns, but they are typically simpler and more understated. Linens, cottons, and natural fibers are commonly used for a relaxed and comfortable look.
- Accessories and Accents: Traditional French country decor embraces a wide range of decorative accessories, such as chandeliers, ornate mirrors, vintage clocks, and ceramic figurines. The emphasis is on creating an elegant and opulent atmosphere. In modern French country decor, the focus is on simplicity and functionality. Accessories are often more minimalistic and include items like simple pendant lights, contemporary artwork, and natural elements like potted plants.
Overall, traditional French country decor exudes a more formal and ornamental aesthetic, while modern French country decor leans towards a relaxed and contemporary style with a rustic chic touch.
How to Modernize a French Country Room
To update a traditional French country room into a modern French country room, here are three fast ways to achieve the transformation:
- Simplify the Color Palette: One of the quickest ways to modernize a traditional French country room is to simplify the color palette. Replace rich and earthy tones with lighter, neutral shades. This change will instantly create a more airy and contemporary feel in the space.
- Streamline Furniture: Update the furniture in the room to achieve a more modern look. Choose pieces that blend rustic charm with a touch of contemporary style. Try sofas with clean lines and other versatile seating. Include furniture made from natural materials like raw or bleached wood or incorporate metal or glass elements for a modern twist.
- Incorporate Modern Accessories: Swap out fussy decorative accessories for more updated ones. Choose simple, sleek pieces with chic rustic finishes. Replace heavy drapes with lighter window treatments like sheer curtains or blinds. Consider adding contemporary artwork or mirrors with sleek frames to the walls. Introduce a few statement pieces that reflect a modern aesthetic while still complementing the overall French country style.
By implementing these three key changes—updating the color palette, streamlining furniture, and incorporating modern accessories—you can quickly and effectively transform a traditional French country room into a modern French country room. Strike a balance between preserving the rustic charm of the original style while infusing it with contemporary elements.
Additional Tips to Achieve a Modern Aesthetic
- Embrace Neutral Colors: Use a neutral color palette as the foundation of your modern French decor. Opt for light shades and soft pastels. Consider using these colors for walls, furniture, and larger elements in the room.
- Mix Old and New: Combine vintage or antique pieces with modern elements to create an eclectic and balanced look. For example, pair a rustic farmhouse table with contemporary dining chairs or hang a modern chandelier in a room with exposed wooden beams.
- Incorporate Natural Materials: Bring in natural materials to add warmth and texture to the space. Choose furniture made of wood, rattan, or wicker. Use natural fibers for upholstery, such as linen or cotton. Incorporate stone or concrete accents for a touch of modernity.
- Opt for Clean Lines: Select furniture with clean and sleek lines to achieve a modern aesthetic. Avoid excessive ornamentation or intricate details. Look for pieces with minimalistic designs and geometric shapes.
- Use Metallic Accents: Introduce metallic accents to add a touch of elegance and modern flair. Incorporate brass, gold, or chrome elements through lighting fixtures, hardware, or decorative accessories. For example, a sleek brass floor lamp or a set of contemporary chrome drawer pulls can enhance the overall modern French aesthetic.
- Minimalist Window Treatments: Choose simple and minimalist window treatments to allow natural light to flow freely. Consider using sheer curtains, Roman shades, or blinds in neutral colors. This will create an open and airy atmosphere.
- Focus on Functionality: Prioritize functionality and practicality when selecting furniture and accessories. Opt for pieces that serve a purpose while maintaining a visually appealing aesthetic. Look for storage solutions that are both stylish and efficient.
- Incorporate Modern Artwork: Display contemporary artwork or photography to add a modern touch to the space. Choose abstract paintings, graphic prints, or minimalist art pieces that complement the overall color scheme and design aesthetic.
- Create a Cozy Ambience: Balance the clean lines and modern elements with cozy and comfortable touches. Add plush pillows, throw blankets, and textured rugs to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Layering textiles can soften the space and add depth.
- Introduce Greenery: Incorporate indoor plants or fresh flowers to bring a natural element into the room. Place potted plants in modern containers or add a statement plant in a corner to add freshness and liveliness.
The key to achieving a modern French aesthetic is to strike a balance between contemporary elements and the rustic charm of traditional French country style. In my home I use plenty of antiques as my homage to classic French design, but pair these timeworn pieces with the comfort of relaxed modern seating and textiles, as well. Pale colors and simplicity rule the day and the net result is a home that still reads French-inspired, but with a decidedly updated rustic chic look.
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