Imitation, Flattery and the Ooh La La Elements of French Kitchen Design

F is for3is for finally ready to post.  I started writing and sourcing this post last year, wanting to go live with the post on Bastille Day.  Last year’s horrible terrorist attack in Nice, France on the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day naturally became the entire focus of our thoughts. Posting a blog post about French kitchen design was the last thing of interest or on my mind at the time; thus, a bump over to the draft file was in order.  In celebration of Bastille Day, here is the out of the draft file and dusted off post.


French kitchen design speaks fluent style to legions of Francophile obsessed decoristas.  Does French kitchen design speak your language? Oscar Wilde tells us imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Imitating the distinctive European elegance vis-à-vis design and decor pays a compliment to the classic French kitchen.  Classic French design marries formality with rustic finesse juxtaposed against a weathered patina. Rustic refinement coupled with old-world charm personifies the characteristics of the country French kitchen.

country-french-kitchen-copper Traditional Style of the Country French Kitchen 

Some say country French while others say French country.  A tomayto, tomahto point perhaps, but Country French is the term used most often in the antiques world so country French it is.

Inspiration is everywhere, and listening to French music is an excellent source of inspiration- my definition of French immersion.  Shall we take a listen?

French inspired flooring

  French Pattern Ivory Swirl ® Tumbled Travertine Tiles  || French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile    ||  Allure Chateau Parquet  ||  Cabot Slate Autumn French

flooring-French-Kitchen-style

It is said that kitchen design starts from the ground up.  Flooring serves as a principal foundation piece in terms of the overall balance of kitchen design.

country-French-kitchen-blue-whiteCountry French Refined

The above image from Traditional Home is a marvelous example of country French refined.   The very right of the white kitchen is in the complementing presence of provincial color, texture and pattern design greatness.

French-cabinet-doors1

Antique French Pine Cabinet Doors

Subtle drama, a decorating oxymoron if there ever was one, engages my eye past the toile on steroids of the traditional country French kitchen to the accents in the not trying so hard to exemplify the look category.

tole-light-fixtueTole Gilt and Paint Light Fixture

Ralph-Lauren-gold-Windsor-pendantRalph Lauren Windsor Hanging Shade

Cabinet hardware as a focal point?

Absolutely!

French style cabinet hardware

Never underestimate the small details and the ability they have to make a visually grand statement.

French-style-kitchen-tile-ideas

Accenting with as opposed to a total immersion in is the key to alleviating the risk of a dated look.

country French traditional kitchen

Lubbock WTBHA 2015 Parade of Homes

Sourcing home decor items is routine, but never mundane.

Margaree+Side+ChairMargaree Side Chair

Charlotte_Wingback_Chair

This Caned Black Wingback Chair by GuildMaster instantly introduces elegance into the decorating equation.  Grand style is present and accounted for in this excellent option for captain’s chairs.

French kitchen design

I believe my love of the well appointed French kitchen began when I was in junior high.  My best friend’s mother had impeccable taste in home furnishing and home decor accessories, and their home was and continues to be one of the premier homes in our area.   The entire home was gracefully designed and decorated, but the traditional kitchen, appointed with classic French flair, was indeed the design pièce de résistance.

French-blue-paint-colors

A delicate mix of French blues with cream white accents served as both color palette and focal point.  Less is more echoed throughout the design and decor, and the style statement being made was more ethereal than overt.

pic-frenchTraditional Home

Accents in ç’est vraiment magnifique detail translates to it’s really beautiful- the quintessential design element of the curated French kitchen.

French+Country+Double+Handle+Widespread+Kitchen+Faucet

The French Country kitchen faucet by Kingston Brass represents the detail of vintage French country design, bringing elegance of old to the contemporary kitchen.

stone-sink-antique

Antique Stone Sink

Wonderful option for a prep sink.

French-Apothecary-Stone-Sink

Antique 18th Century French Apothecary Stone Sink 

Marielle 1-Handle Bar And Prep Faucet

Marielle 1-Handle Bar And Prep Faucet

bi·be·lot
ˈbib(ə)ˌlō
noun

a small, decorative ornament or trinket.

French-blue-vintage-soup-tureen

 Antique French Blue Transferware Bowl 1878 Earthenware

country-French-cupboard

 Country French Cupboard

French-white-blue-kitchen-cabinetOoh La La Love this Belgian Kitchen Cabinet  

Distinctive European elegance is the standard of style and signature component of French kitchen design.

love your style

A Formal Introduction to the Primitive Dining Table: Pairing the Formal with the Primitive

Formal is defined as being in accordance with the usual requirements or customs.

peach-pink-burgundy-wedding-inspiration-kelly-oshiro-elizabeth-messinavia

Fabulous, by my design definition, is being anything but in accordance with the usual requirements or customs.  Pairing the formal with the primitive such as dining chairs and dining tables creates a surprising contrast, becoming the focal point of the space.

Cottage Haven Interiors

I highly recommend seizing every opportunity to show and express personal style through home decor and home furnishings in an original way.  There’s a place and a time for keeping with well, that’s the way it’s always been done, so…  

The cure for decorative complacency can be found in the mixing of styles. 

House Beautiful

House Beautiful rated the above example by Designer Suzanne Kasler as one of their top kitchen tables.  Formal meets primitive in a traditional setting- how many design styles can you identify in the above image? Flattering in presence and stunning in design execution, the pairing formal Louis XV-style dining chairs with a 19th-century French farm table is a stroke of tasteful genius.

House Beautiful

As showcased in Atticmag,  formal Chippendale dining chairs paired with a primitive three plank farm table equals a comfortable formality that steps out of the expected comfort zone.

The first primitive dining table I purchased was at an antiques auction in 1999.  Dave the Builder and I previewed like it’s 1999 the night before the Saturday afternoon auction, and as my eyes zeroed in on the mark, a late 1800’s primitive harvest table in pristine condition, my antiques loving heart began to race.

Dave the Builder, who questioned my judgement, thought I was crazy as I wrote the item number down in my notebook.  “Why do you want a picnic table?”  he asked.

elegant-refusal-dining-roomCountry Living

That picnic table, which I won at the auction, turned out to be a magnificent addition to the Hopefully Classic inventory.  It sold within the week, and remains the primitive piece that got away.  I definitely regret selling it.

Better Homes and Gardens

The next year we purchased a late 1800’s Cypress farm table.  The grayish patina threw me a curve in the pairing department.  I recently brought in a set of six Mahogany Regency Sabre leg dining chairs, not really knowing what piece to pair them with, but knowing I could not pass them up. Dave the Builder was arranging items, and I was with a client so I was not paying much attention.  Dave had placed the chairs around the farm table and the look blew my mind.  The woods, patinas, and styles played perfectly off each other and hit a note of design accord.  The set sold the next week.  The Regency dining chairs and Cypress farm table were great stand alone pieces, but when matched together the look was flawless.

Austin Architect

Dave the Builder and I were drinking coffee one evening and found our conversation focused on a recent buying trip.  Authentic antique farm and harvest tables are becoming more scarce and prove difficult to locate.   Artisans, custom wood and furniture makers, and DIY aficionados are rising to the occasion to produce gorgeous interpretations and meet demand.  Dave the Builder has built farm tables for 4 of our clients.  Our school of thought is to introduce a new twist on an old way of doing things.  One custom table was built from Victorian square grand piano legs and Louisiana reclaimed Cypress planks.  He dry brushed the piano legs with paint to match the patina of the Cypress.  The table now resides at a cattle ranch in West Texas.  Talk about formal meets primitive!  

jj locations

The table featured below is the most current one he has built.  We purchased the antique legs and married them to our first choice, Louisiana reclaimed Cypress planks.  The  patina is achieved with a two step process.  He begins with a dark stain application until the desired patina is reached.  The  formal introduction was complete upon returning from a friend’s antique shop with the finest set of six formal white washed wheat back rush bottom dining chairs.  A designer friend scooped the set up for a client.  The chairs did not stay in the shop long enough for me to photograph.  I like that!

The final step is the trick.  We recommend and use Johnson Paste Wax. Available at hardware and home improvement stores,  Johnson Paste Wax gives furniture a safe, hard, and protective  finish with a soft luster.

Don’t be afraid to blend formal with primitive pieces.  The contrast surprises, complements, and is easily capable of becoming the focal point of the space.

Love your style!