Four Key Elements of Farmhouse French Style
by Anita Joyce
photos by Anita Joyce
Editor’s Note: Anita Joyce has a city house in Houston, a country house near Shelby and a flair for French style. The former engineer is a wife and mother as well as a self-taught photographer, interior designer, blogger and online entrepreneur who founded cedarhillfarmhouse.com in 2011. Today, that site alone has 80,000 unique visitors per month.
I love things that are rusty, crusty and chippy. At least that is what I tell people. Of course the crusty part can be dicey. Sometimes I find things that are too crusty for me. I suspect the people who buy those things have a higher “crust” tolerance. It may seem contradictory to say that I also love bling such as silver teapots from France, crystal chandeliers and curvy Louis XV French chairs, but somehow it all comes together in a beautiful, sweet and savory way like peanut butter and jelly.
What is Farmhouse French Style?
Have you ever seen the old TV show Green Acres? Lisa Douglas is my go-to-girl for Farmhouse French style. She thought hay bales and chandeliers worked fine together. Oh Lisa, you were ahead of your time!
Farmhouse French style is really quite simple to pull together. That’s the wonderful thing about it; it’s simple and easy to add to any room. It’s elegant while being warm and inviting at the same time.
There are basically four elements of Farmhouse French style.
- Rusty, crusty, chippy
People who lived on farms couldn’t afford to be constantly replacing things, so often they had some things with a bit of rust on them, and they owned things with chipped paint. The chippy look can be achieved even if the piece is new. Using some simple faux painting techniques, you can create a look that gives the impression of age and wear. If I want something metal to look a bit rusty, I often set it out on the back porch at my farm. A year later it’s rusty. No faux finishing required.
You need things that are old and look like they could have been in a farmhouse. This includes rusty things and stuff with chipped paint, but it also includes simple things you might find in a farmhouse such as ironstone, old dishes, simple homespun linen, ladders, old bottles, crates and baskets. These simple elements represent a simple life. They are often old and worn from years of use. People couldn’t afford to replace things often, so bottles needed to be used again and again. Crates used to ship something were used later for storage. I love to use grain sacks, too. They had a simple beginning. Originally, they were used to transport grain to the mill but now work well for pillows and upholstery.
- Bling bling
Just like simple rustic elements ground a room, shiny surfaces give a room sparkle and elegance. I love to add silver, mercury glass and crystal to give a room a touch of excitement. I don’t always polish the silver. Even tarnished silver can add a bit of sparkle. Mercury glass is also shiny and works, especially around Christmas time. And everyone needs at least one crystal chandelier. If you don’t have a crystal chandelier, why not just add a crystal candelabra?
Of course, if the style is Farmhouse French, it stands to reason we need some French in there somewhere, but it doesn’t have to be something French necessarily. It can simply be something French-inspired or maybe even Italian. You are looking for something curvy and ornate. A French chair is the perfect complement to almost any room.
Basically, it’s all about marrying the warmth of Farmhouse style with the refinement of Fancy French style. It’s about striking a balance between ease and elegance, rustic and refined, farm and fancy.
The beauty of Farmhouse French style is that it is easily incorporated into your home. You can add just a few simple pieces without spending a fortune or starting over.
Where to find it
Now that we’ve defined what Farmhouse French style is, the next logical question is: Where do you find the goods? I get asked this a lot. Many of these items can’t be found at a traditional store, so you need to know where to find them.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]If you’re reading this in Round Top (or nearby), I have good news for you. You can find all of the elements of Farmhouse French style in Round Top at the Antiques Show. If you aren’t in Round Top, then you can check out thrift stores, flea markets, antique malls, Craigslist and auctions in your area. Prices are going to vary based on the source and the items’ condition.[/pullquote]
Why I love it
It’s very inviting and friendly, but at the same time it’s quite elegant. I don’t know too many other styles that marry yin and yang so well. It’s an “anything goes” style. You can include family heirloom pieces with something you found in a field at Round Top. I have old rusty spoons next to a refined antique French clock.
I use this style not only in our Houston Heights city house, but also at our laid back Round Top farm. Things need to hold up to more abuse at the farm, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be elegant. If you thought you had to give up comfort for elegance, the good news is that you can have both.
Want more? Check out Anita’s book French Accents.