Recently I had the pleasure of reading the book French Vintage Décor by Jamie Lundstrom, creator of So Much Better With Age. It was an enlightening experience to learn that many French vintage furniture and accessories can be easy DIY projects, and it empowers me to embark on an adventure to paint and create my own French country/vintage furniture and décor.
Many people think that French country vintage décor can cost a fortune to acquire, but that could not be further from the truth. French country décor is a carefree, unassuming decorating style that repurposes and recycles vintage furniture pieces to create beautiful, nostalgic and charming looks. Through a process of painting and refinishing, anyone can turn old and worn-out furniture and décor pieces into elegant, French inspired treasures.
Quintessential French Country Elements
In French country design (or in Jamie’s words: French Vintage), there are usually a few quintessential elements that help complete the look: vintage/antique items or furniture, crown moldings on walls, cabinets and doors, vintage accessories like picture frames, mirrors and chandeliers. Moreover, French country color palette (northern French country) is usually more subdued and neutral, consisting of plenty of white, grey, beige, and wood tones. Accent colors such as gold and silver impart a rustic elegance, and French blue lends an undeniable French pizzazz.
Northern French Country Color Palettes
Northern France, as influenced by the colder weather, is known to have a cooler, and neutral color palette. Shades of white, grey, light wood tones, and muted blues and greens are often found in furniture and décor, and the walls are usually painted a lighter color.
In terms of fabrics, northern French country interior design usually features white and cream linens, ruffles and lace to create an elegant and romantic atmosphere.
Northern French country style and architecture are sometimes swayed by the royal style of Paris, where the monarchy used to reside. Traces of elegance and royalty can be found to influence even country interior decor.
Inset is an example of northern French decor. Bleu de France Royal Cushion Cover features a muted French blue velvety fabric on top of a grey-golden-brown undertone. The fleurs de lis (flower of the lily) motif is a stylized lily symbol traditionally used to represent French royalty. To this day, it remains an enduring symbol of France which appears on French coats of arms, religious artefacts, architectural designs and more.
Southern French Country Color Palettes
Southern France enjoys a warmer weather, and its sunny color palette is often reflected in its architecture and interior decor. Shades of yellow, orange, brown, brick red, and lavender are used to brighten and warm up the interior.
In southern French country fabrics, motifs of roosters, floral, butterflies and bees often show up in prints, lending a more down-to-earth, farmhouse charm.
Inset is an example of southern French country decor. French Country Floral Cushion Cover features all the colors and motifs of French farmhouse chic.
While there is a distinction between northern and southern French country decorating styles, it isn’t uncommon to see some interior decorators blending both styles to achieve the best of both worlds!
Create Your Own French Country Décor Pieces
Jamie Lundstrom’s French Vintage Décor delivers 70 fun DIY projects to help you create your own quintessential French decor pieces. You can transform your space into an elegant, rustic French country home. Some of Jamie’s projects include French provincial antique basket, antiqued mirror, gold leaf frame, antique chair, white and gold vanity, and more.
Here are some simplified, basic steps to create your own French country décor pieces:
- Find a piece of furniture or accessory on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or a second-hand stores. When people are moving, they often sell their furniture for cheap, and sometimes FREE! Many sellers think their European inspired furniture and accessories are too “old style” and “grandma style”, but little do they know that such pieces can be transformed into expensive looking French décor.
- Gather up some paint and brushes, and start painting. Many French inspired furniture and accessories use shades of white as the base. To give it a shabby chic look, don’t completely cover the furniture with paint. Allow some wood grain to show through. You can also apply some distressing techniques to give the piece a vintage, aged look.
- That’s it! See, it’s really easy! Jamie includes tips and tricks in her book, like working in an air ventilated room, using wood appliques, applying a primer, and other recommended tools to make your projects go smoothly.
The book is a treasure trove of gorgeous images of her French Vintage inspired home. Her writing is warm, descriptive, and succinct, juxtaposed with full size images, making it effortless to read. The DIY ideas flow like a waterfall and invite the readers to explore French décor possibilities page after page.
Overall, Jamie’s artistic leaning appears to be influenced by northern French country with a touch of shabby chic aesthetics. Many projects feature neutral colored furniture and accessories, which can be easily integrated into many homes’ existing design schemes. Even those interested in primarily southern French country farmhouse chic will find inspiring decorating ideas in this book.
You can find French Vintage Décor on Amazon. I hope you have a lot of fun creating your own French inspired décor! Bisou bisou!