DESIGN TIP: Advice & Styles, Country French Kitchen II
Ilene Carp, one of the list members, submitted the following question. Here is her initial
statement, "I would love to see something on French Country Style, especially as
related to kitchen decor. I would like to decorate my kitchen in that style and could
hope-fully use some of your tips. Thank you!"
I wrote back, requesting additional information, and Irene replied, "Thank you for
responding to my e-mail. I am looking for more specific advice on how to create the look
that I want, I do have some ideas, but am having trouble choosing what I would like to do
with the walls. My kitchen is about 14 1/2x8 1/2. The one long wall has cherry wood
cabinets, sink, stove and refrigerator in an L shape. The opposite wall has wainscoting
also in cherry wood stain. I have border along the backsplash with the colors burgundy,
tan, and navy, peach rose and slight splashes of yellow. I want to use the same border
along the top of the wall and possibly at chair-rail height. I do not like the
coordinating wallpaper. In fact I have not found any wallpaper with a French Country
that I really like. I was thinking of color washing the walls, but what colors should I
use? I really love the Old World look of color washing. Also what color should I paint the
wainscoting? I have a set of French Country canisters that I love and am also using for
inspiration. They have the traditional yellow background with hand painted fruit on them
in plum, navy and green. I have an oak table and chairs that I also will be keeping. My
counter tops will also need replacing at some point. What color would you suggest? My
appliances are almond. Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated.
Dear Irene: Your kitchen is fairly narrow and long, therefore, I would use a light color
on the walls. A color, commonly found in French Country interiors, is butter yellow. I
think this would be a good choice. Also, color washing is an excellent idea. As for the
wainscoting, I would go a shade, or two, darker than the walls. This type of color
treatment is also customarily used in French Country interiors. The use the border on the
walls and above the rail is also a great idea. Now, what should you do with the
countertops? Most authentic French Country interiors employ tiles, or marble with a subtle
gray graining. Unfortunately, I have problems with both of these materials. Tile is very
difficult to keep clean (especially the grout), and marble can be expensive, and shows
water marks. Depending on your budget, I would recommend granite, Corian, or plastic
laminate. If you chose granite, the most expensive option, select a pattern that is light
with subtle lines, similar to the marble I mentioned above. (Although most French Country
interiors have white countertops, I would use off-white, because of your almond
appliances.) Another nice choice, in Corian or plastic laminate, is a light neutral
background, with small gray specks. Plastic laminates also comes is simulated sandstone,
another material commonly found in French Country interiors. Be careful with simulated
materials, they can look "cheap."
I consulted the following books, while writing this tip. I have provided links to these
books on Amazon.com.
Deuxs French Country, by Pierre Moulin, Pierre Le Vec, and Linda
Amazon.com can try to find a used book, check your
library, or see other books by these authors.
Country, by Judith and Martin Miller: Striking out here! They didnt even have
this book out-of-print. But, they did have another book on
country interiors by the authors.
Country Paint: Traditional Decorative Paint Techniques.
Here are some other books on French Country, also linked to Amazon.com. (Some of these
books were mentioned in my first French country kitchen tip, which you can link to below.)
French Country (Architecture
and Design Library, 1)
Really Rural: Authentic French Country Interiors
Provencal Interiors: French Country Style in America
Printed with permission of
Catherine Foust McGivern, NCIDQ Certified