Don't let the term 'country' fool you. The Country, or French Country home style and architecture is all about mixing casual with elegance. This is a simple yet sophisticated look that is apt to appeal to many homebuyers and decorators. Continue reading to learn more about this architectural and design style.
Table of Contents
- Country Style Homes (Exteriors)
- Country Style Interior Examples (by Room)
- Country Style Home Landscaping
- What is the Country Style?
- Interior Style Features
- Exterior Style Features
- Furniture style
- Styles that Mix Well With It
- Brief Historic Overview
- Why It Looks Great
Country Style Homes (Exteriors)
Check out these spectacular homes showcasing the Country style architecture.
1. Rustic Red and Yellow Country House
This charming Country-style home looks like two separate houses. The left section has a sunny yellow tone that makes the blue garage doors stand out while the right section has a rusty red hue that contrasts the lush green landscaping surrounding the home.
This is the view of the back of the home where you can see the yellow and red sections of the home that has two A-frame roofs. These meet forming an L-shape that gives space for the backyard patio that has a stone mosaic flooring that transitions to the grassy lawn beyond adorned with shrubs and trees.
2. Southern Elegance by Luxe Homes & Design
The brilliant sunlight goes well with this Country-style home that oozes comfort and homey quality. The section on the left with the main entrance has a tall stone chimney on its Gable roof while the right side with the three garage doors has a Gambrel roof and a couple of dormer windows.
3. Magnificent Hobson Road Luxury Custom Home
From this vantage point, you can fully appreciate the aesthetic made by the multiple brown Gable roofs making it seem like the house is part of a mountain range with several different peaks. This goes well with the various windows and the colorful landscaping.
This backyard features a brilliant blue pool adorned with a wooden trellis structure that has cascading waters falling to the waters below. This wooden structure matches with the outdoor patio at the side of the home that has an outdoor fireplace matching with the bright exteriors.
Country Style Interior Examples (by Room)
The following are photo examples of Country-style interiors (room-by-room). Below each photo are links that take you to extensive Country-style photo galleries for each room.
This is a country-style living room with an elegant gray coffered ceiling hanging a thin chandelier over the rustic wooden coffee table near the fireplace that is housed with red bricks and a wooden mantle that supports the wall-mounted TV.
This charming Country-style kitchen has a couple of brilliant glass pendant lights hanging over the narrow wooden kitchen island with a butcher block countertop matching the hardwood flooring. This is then contrasted by the green cabinetry of the peninsula that has a red brick backsplash.
This eclectic Country-style dining room has avocado green wooden walls paired with a coffered ceiling that has gray and white tones. These serve as a dynamic background for the simple white wooden dining table and its contrasting dark wooden chairs on a gray floral area rug.
This simple Country-style home has a cathedral ceiling adorned with brown wooden exposed beams and a majestic crystal chandelier that glows warmly. This hangs over the white wooden four-poster bed paired with a wall made of rustic wooden planks.
This Country-style bathroom has a small freestanding bathtub placed in a quaint corner under a window surrounded by contrasting gray walls and topped with a charming arch. Besides this is the glass door of the shower area with the same gray tiles to its walls as the flooring of the bathroom.
This view from the foyer of this Country-style home shows the dining room on the right through an arched walkway. Then directly in front is the bottom of the stairs that has wooden steps to match the hardwood flooring leading to the arched entryway of the living room area.
Country Style Home Landscaping
The Country-style landscaping of this home aims to highlight the natural beauty of the home instead of veer attention from it. The earthy driveway and walkway lead to three brown garage doors that are adorned with bright flowers matching those on the main entryway.
What is the Country Style?
The country style home is a short way of referring to the Country French style home, or French Country style home. All three terms are used interchangeably to refer to a unique design of architecture that dates back to the 18th century and was popularized (despite the name) along with eastern North America and principal waterways just west of Appalachia, like the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, and the Mississippi River. Some of the most endearing examples of original the country style home can be found in New Orleans and its surrounding areas that were well-populated by the French.
French Country homes were inspired, as their name suggests, from the stately country homes that dotted the French countryside. Architects and builders of the 18th century took those regal homes and dialed them down so as to create similarly beautiful but still affordable homes for those in the New Country nostalgic for Old World-charm but wanting something more relaxed and reflective of the New World.
Interior Style Features
- Smooth plaster walls. All of the walls in a country home should be comprised of a smooth plaster that is painted either a soft, reflective white or with a warm and calm color.
- Wood or limestone flooring. The vast majority of Country style homes are going to have wooden flooring typically sourced from nearby lumber mills. After all, a bit part of why this style flourished so readily across the entirety of the Eastern United States and not just in one place is due to it relying so heavily on the then-ubiquitous timber industry. In a few select cases, limestone flooring may have been used in lieu of wood. If you are renovating a Country home or are planning to build new in the style, go for wood flooring wherever possible.
- Exposed wooden beams. The ceilings inside a Country style home will feature exposed wooden beams and may feel similar to a farmhouse structure. When caring for the Country home, these wooden beams should be inspected annually and maintained with the right oil or similar finishing products.
- Tall casement windows in the living spaces. Casement windows are windows that are attached to the frame by hinges along the side. This allows them to be cranked open from the side in order to allow fresh air in and through a window. Country homes typically feature tall casement windows on either side of the home to allow full through breezes.
- Oversized and centrally placed fireplaces. You may be noticing a trend here in that Country style homes really place emphasis on what is naturally available, ie the use of local wood for construction, the exposure of that wood in ceilings and floor, and the use of tall casement windows to bring in the outdoors. Well, another way in which the Country style home really emphasis this simple utilitarianism is with the fireplace. Fireplaces in the Country style home are typically built oversized with limestone. Those fireplaces are likewise often built as the center-point of the home with a massive mantel place.
- High ceilings with an open foyer. The foyer of the Country style home is typically built two stories high and will feature a curved stairway built of stone. This part of the architectural style is really meant to bring home that French-inspired regalness and Old World elegance. From the foyer, the rest of the rooms are laid out symmetrically and will often also feature higher ceilings than you’d see in homes built in the same era.
- No interior hallways. Finally, all rooms in a French Country home are either accessible via that central foyer or dining room, or in some regional designs, have doors that open out to a large porch or patio that either fully wraps around or significantly wraps around the home.
Exterior Style Features
- Structural symmetry. While this isn’t uniform across all Country homes, most will feature balanced, symmetric proportions that allow for that aforementioned large foyer and central fireplace and mantle.
- Steep roofs with tall second-story windows. One of the best ways to identify a Country house is by simply looking up. These style homes have an almost storybook-like appearance whether tall, sloped roofs that feature hipped lines. Most authentic French Country style homes will feature barrel tiles. Clay tiles will typically encase the roof line via an overlapping method.
- Natural stone exteriors. Authentic Country homes are not built with brick. These homes are almost all done with a natural stone facade that really harkens back to that Old World country look.
- Transom window over a paneled front door. There is no front porch or similar outdoor greeting area at the front door. Instead, the door of a Georgian home is simple but paneled with a transom window above it. In line with that Roman inspiration, Georgian homes typically also have pediment or crown and pilasters abutting the front entryway.
- Large porch or patio. Country style homes, particularly those built in more hot and humid areas, frequently feature a late porch or patio that is built deep as well as wide.
Copper cookware. Did you know that Native Americans mined copper from northern Michigan as early as 5000 BCE? Copper from those mines was eventually used by the French and later the Americans for a number of goods including copper cookware. Thus, copper cookware not only looks great and works great, but it’s also historically accurate to the French Country home.
Mahogany or other high-quality wood dining set. Mahogany is a rich wood that is largely native to areas of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America with a few varieties growing naturally in South Florida. During the 1700s and onto the 1900s, mahogany furniture was widely praised for its beauty and durability, and owners of the Country style home would often have gorgeous mahogany dining sets as the star of their dining room.
Detailed window treatments. The walls of a Country style home should be kept that fresh plaster white or painted in a soft color that reflects light through the home’s tall windows. But just because the walls should be painted nondescript doesn’t mean there’s no room for patterns here. Consider including bright floral or other printed window treatments to really bring attention to those unique windows of your Country style home.
- Wood. French Country homes were largely wood-framed with that wood played up in the interior such as with the exposed ceiling beams. Even where wood isn’t used as a primary building material, it will be used for the porch or patio.
- Stone. The second most common material used in the construction and interior decoration of the Country home is stone. Stone is commonly used across the facade of the house and as a primary building component. The fireplace is also often built with stone and, in some cases, you’ll see stone used as a flooring material in rooms like the kitchen and bathing room.
- Limestone. Finally, limestone is the second-most common flooring material used in a Country home after wood. The fireplace may also be made of limestone.
Paint with soft accent colors. The interior palette of the French Country home should favor calm, relaxing, and muted shades. These are colors that will softly reflect light and not absorb it, but also ones that won’t demand too much attention. Good color ideas include pale yellows, soft greens, light grays, and warm whites.
Play up the fireplace. Remember, one of the most defining interior characteristics of the Country style home is its fireplace. Consider arranging your furniture around the fireplace or have a separate sitting area that makes that fireplace the centerpiece. Likewise, you might adorn your fireplace with a large painting, candles, vases of dried flowers, or otherwise play it up.
Patterns, patterns, and more patterns. In additition to choosing those aforementioned window patterns, consider using patterns elsewhere throughout the Country home. For example, consider upholstered chairs with patterns and using patterned linens. Patterned furnishing sand accents are ideal to play off the simple colors of the wall and ceiling.
Bring in some wrought iron. While this wasn’t technically part of authentic French Country style, the bringing in outdoor wrought iron materials has really grown in popularity by owners of French Country homes and those trying to give their home a more French Country style. You might, for example, use an iron garden gate as a headboard or wrought iron as towel racks in the bathroom. These materials keep with that simple material aesthetic but bring a sort of classic authenticity to space.
Styles that Mix Well With It
- Rustic. The rustic style is all about taking cues from natural inspiration and it does so by incorporating raw and often unfinished materials and elements. Similarly, the Country’s architectural and decor style is all about bringing nature indoors (ie those exposed wooden ceiling beams) — if in more finished ways. But if you don’t’ want things to be too finish, then incorporating in some rustic style elements offers a great balanced look.
- Traditional. The traditional decorating style is defined by resembling more European tastes — which makes it a good pairing for French Country style that already is rooted in some classic French design. Traditional home design styles often accentuate dark, finished wood, a variety of textiles, and layering textures. All of these design elements pair well with the French Country style.
- Scandinavian. This is a newer design style but one that’s really becoming more and more popular as a growing number of people find themselves wanting to enjoy a simpler lifestyle but don’t want to go full-on minimalistic (as was the trend a couple of years ago with the surge of tiny homes). Scandinavian home design style pays homage to the simplicity of Nordic life by emphasizing that everything brought into the home should be of high-quality and purposeful. This means a lot of strong wooden and upholstered pieces but not an excess of things like shelving. White and light colors dominate and there’s an emphasis on natural lighting — all things likewise emphasized in the French Country style.
Brief Historic Overview
The French Country style, as might be expected of all great designs, originated first in French palaces back in the 1600s. King Lous XIV spearheaded a design and stylish movement to emphasize craftsmanship in furnishings and building materials. This movement really promoted partisan and craftsman work such as in the glass, ceramic, textile weaving, and furniture-making department.
As more people saw upward-mobility in the 1700s and onto the 1800s, others besides the royalty started to really enjoy that beautiful craftwork. This kick-started the authentic French Country homes out in the country of France.
Then, as more people moved to the New World, the growing French Country style came too and people took advantage of the rich resources found in the Americas, like the aforementioned mahogany, oak, natural stone, copper, and so much more. The massive timber industry really helped popularized this mostly wood-oriented design. In the South, such as in and near New Orleans, this style accompanied by massive wraparound front porches became particularly popular as the weather beckoned people out of their stuffy homes.
Why It Looks Great
It’s hard not to fall head over heels for the French Country home design. The architecture really is a fantastic mix of stately and simple. You have those tall windows and high sloping roofs that really give off a storybook vibe on the outside, and yet solid slate exterior walls and large front porches keep things simple and casual.
Inside, that regal-yet-simple atmosphere continues as you walk in and find yourself in a very spacious room, a potentially two-floored foyer with an elegant stone fireplace at the center and exposed beams above. Yet, as big and grand as this foyer is, it often can also feel simple and casual just like the style’s exterior due to its natural wood floors and soft color walls.
When it comes to what you add to complete the French Country home with French Country style decor, that same casual elegance reigns supreme. From the front porch to the kitchen and beyond, the decor here is about emphasizing the natural with the right touch of colors, patterns, and materials — like adding that bright copper cookware to your kitchen.
A lot of people think that because the French Country style emphasizes fresh natural materials and quality craftsmanship that it has to be expensive. And while there is some truth to this, as high-quality materials are going to be more expensive than manufactured faux ones, you can also choose to pick a few quality accent materials and then add in to fulfill the style. Just keep to that core principle of elegant but also casual, natural but also textures and layers.