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My heart always longs for the beauty and warmth found in the French countryside, and though living in a ranch style home in Iowa is definitely not the same thing as living in a French farmhouse, it doesn’t mean I can’t do small things to bring a touch of France into my own home!
Spaces are always evolving and in the 2 years we’ve been in this home, I’ve been slowly changing out our old and beaten down furniture and replacing it with pieces I love. And wow, what a difference furniture can make! Along with furniture, I’ve been adding (and taking away) other things here and there to reflect the French style I so dearly love.
We haven’t done anything superstructural in this room on purpose. It’s not our long-term place so instead of building a feature fireplace or wiring for an overhead light, we’ve been “making do” and I’ve more focused my efforts on furniture and little touches to bring that French style. Things that you can easily bring to the next place! I’ve been loving these new pieces that have dramatically changed the whole vibe of this room so I wanted to share an update, as well as tips on how you can create your own French style living room!
Living Room Updates
Besides furniture, the biggest change you may see is that the flooring is different. We replaced the carpet with engineered hardwood and we love the difference. I think it adds a lot of character and wood is a great pick for a French Country living room.
Looking back now, I wish I went with something a little bit lighter, like French Oak, but this was the best one in our budget. Oh well!
A Havenly designer recommended I move the gallery wall above the chaise lounge and add a sconce instead. Though I thought it was a good idea, I didn’t want to hire out this project, so I just took the gallery wall away altogether and spruced up the corner with greenery, new curtains, and new pillows. Though this corner may look pretty, it actually gets used quite a bit. It’s great for leaning back with a book and a hot cup of coffee!
2 (ish) years ago current 2 (ish) years ago current taken during house inspection current 2 (ish) years ago current
I also switched out the mirror above the fireplace for something more to scale. I don’t have any mantle decorations nor have I mastered coffee table styling, as I just threw the basket on the coffee table last minute for these photos haha. Truthfully, having a lot of coffee table decor is not a battle I want to fight with kids right now, so I’ve been keeping it bare.
I’ve been wanting to switch out the shelves for something chunkier (another Havenly recommendation), but it’s not something I’ve felt crazily motivated to do, despite, once again, thinking it’s a good idea. When you know in the back of your mind that you’ll be moving somewhat soon, you adopt more of a “renters” mentality and don’t want to drill a ton of holes or buy things that may stay.
I’m not an interior designer by any means, but I give these “disclaimers” because I feel I can still do better haha.
And yes, it’s just an electric fireplace next to the shelves. I wanted a focal point without a lot of work or investment. We did add the brick so it looked a little more natural. Overall, I think it’s better than nothing!
2 (ish) years ago current
Okay, so now on to the furniture. I sold the wingback chairs and replaced them with these cane chairs. I love these chairs for many reasons! They are a traditional style found in French decor, the wood adds extra warmth and character to this room and most importantly, less fabric means less stains! They are not “sink in and read a book” type of chair, but they are comfortable for sitting and conversing.
And then can we talk about this olive tree? I’ve been wanting a good faux olive tree for so long and I can’t believe my luck with this one! I love the height, greenery, and style it adds to the room. And the price isn’t too bad either, considering. I’m so obsessed I want to get one for every room in my house! Overkill? Say it ain’t so!
Last but not least, the couch, which changes the vibe of the whole room!
I’ve got to admit it. I was influenced! I was on the hunt for the “perfect” couch and was pretty set on Sixpenny for a while. When it came time to order I won’t lie, my enthusiasm waned. 16+ weeks just to make the couch?? In true American “want it now” fashion, I didn’t want to wait that long. Then I came across this couch on Jenna Sue Design Blog. She’s a home designer with the same European vibe that I want to have in my own home and was raving about this couch. SOLD!
I like lighter-colored furniture but was scared of having it get ruined with kids. This one is slipcovered (and not in that ill-fitting cheap-looking way) so that takes out all the fears of having a stain you can’t remove!
I also wanted something deep and snuggable. If you remove the pillows, this feels about as wide as a twin bed. It could function as a bed for a guest or just be extra wide for movie nights and snuggling!
The separate pillows may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. I like that I can rearrange them and it gives you more options if you feel like sitting back or more upright. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sagging back cushions in the future. It’s a lot easier to fluff up or replace a pillow than it is a whole cushion.
I also really like the bench seat. I think it gives it more of a high-end look and you can seat more on it too since you don’t have to worry about a crack in the cushion.
Now, I haven’t had it long, so don’t take this as an official review or anything. These are all just my first impressions. No complaints here!
Okay, so that was my update. Now let’s get on to the tips for you!
How To Create Your Own French Style Living Room
Soft Color Palette
A french country home filled with bright colors and bold floral patterns everywhere the eye lands is not typically the norm. Not that colors and patterns don’t exist, but they are used to accent a soft color palette. So instead of bold, modern, and playful, think cozy and natural when it comes to color.
Get inspired by the colors found in the French countryside: blues, greens, browns, and yellows, but in muted and soft shades. For example, instead of neon green incorporate a forest green.
From paint colors to main pieces of furniture, focus on calming colors. For some color and print, you can focus on bringing in it through something like throw pillows. Go with toile fabrics for a popular fabric choice for a traditional style.
In “typical” or cliche French country rooms you’ll usually see overdone furniture and decor. Heavy curtains and overdone matching furniture sets. Instead, think cozy beauty, inviting character, and comfortable elegance. But most importantly, think natural.
What makes something feel inviting, cozy, and comfortable are the natural elements in the room. After all, who feels super comfortable in an ultra-modern room with glass coffee tables and sharp lines everywhere?
You can incorporate natural materials through wood flooring, wicker baskets, cane furniture, jute rugs, and greenery, for starters!
Pick The Right Light Fixture
Crystal chandeliers (or an equally fancy chandelier) are great to balance out the rusticness of a French living room and add a little bit of glam and a unique sense of sophistication.
We don’t have any wiring for an overhead light, so it’s floor lamps for us for now! But it’s not all bad. Floor lamps make a home feel cozy and it’s worth trying to add different “layers” of lighting in your room, such as recessed lights, a statement chandelier, table lamps, and/or floor lamps.
Incorporate Vintage Pieces
French country rooms shine when they have some weathered pieces that look like they carry history. In these European country houses, pieces got worn naturally with age, time, and use and were frequently passed down through generations.
Flea markets, second-hand stores, and antique shops are all great places to find vintage and antique furniture. I even found a vintage piece of furniture on Facebook marketplace. If you don’t have access to places like these, you could always just find something new that looks old. And hey, it’s okay if you’ve got to head to the hardware store and pick up some sandpaper and chalk paint to distress your own furniture too. I’ve done it. 😉
Something like an antique dresser or armoire is a great piece to have in your living room. And if you forgo the tv, they can make for a nice focal point too. Of course, a fireplace is the best pick if that’s an option, as a fireplace is a key element in a true French Provincial living room. Even better if you have a large mirror over it too!
Are you ever wondering what type of French country decor and vintage pieces you should get for your french country style living room? I love to check out Kathy Kuo Home, a great place for European interior styles. Most of the items are very pricey, but browsing this site can give you a great idea of what type of pieces you should be looking for!
We may all not live in a manor house with stone walls, but it doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate these style and decorative elements to create a French Provincial style in our own living rooms!
Havenly gave me other great ideas on how to use this space. You can check out that post here. And for more tips on creating a European-style home, check out the posts below!
Our Budget-Friendly French Country Inspired Kitchen Reveal
How to Get an Authentic French Country Kitchen
How to Get an Authentic European Exterior
Classy Master Bathroom Makeover Reveal
My French Country Cottage Inspired Exterior Reveal!