French Breakfast Room

from Creative Home
Give your home décor a country-French kick with these decorative painting ideas and cheery colors.
 

Residents and visitors to rural France often find themselves wishing they could bask forever on the sunny hillsides blanketed by saturated blue skies and billowing white clouds. Perhaps that’s why afternoon picnics are so popular in France and why so many rural French dwellers bring the outdoors into their homes. Even Claude Monet bathed his kitchen in blue and his dining room in bright yellow to evoke the atmosphere of his Giverny gardens.

In a nod to the sun-drenched French countryside and to the great Impressionist, this kitchen combines the colors of the sun and sky with earth-tone country-theme touches. A wooden bench forms a sturdy backdrop for pastoral scenes of roosters, hens, and chicks. A matching hutch stores and displays a mix-and-match collection of copper pots, mixing bowls, blue-and-white china, and bottles of wine. And a round breakfast table is inscribed with a reminder en Français to enjoy the good things in life. Translated, it reads, “Sit and enjoy this time together with family and friends we cherish forever.”

All of these furnishings start with pale washes of paint — straw-blond yellow, cornflower blue, and earthy brick red — applied to mimic the look of wood stain. Atop these humble beginnings, decorative painter Peggy Boyd has created plump fowl, expressive sunflowers, and soft wheat motifs. Delicate scrollwork softens the furniture’s heavy lines, and a limited color palette unites the pieces.

While French country shares elements with American country style — painted furniture, natural colors, print fabrics — it has a certain je ne sais quoi. The rustic is more unpretentious, the accessories more elegant, the flowers wilder, and the patinas more ancient. “It’s just a little fluffier. That’s what I like about it,” Boyd says.



Rough plaster walls and natural-stone floors are other hallmarks of French country living. To create texture on flat walls, Boyd scrubbed them down with a “tea-stain” glaze. Then, she taped off the plywood floor to create squares and treated each one with three glazes until the surface looked like individual stone tiles. A sunflower-theme floorcloth — painted on the back of vinyl floor covering — puts a little cheerful sunshine right underfoot.

To keep the decorative painting “fluffy,” Boyd encourages other painters to “keep it loose.” If you make a mistake, you can always paint a leaf over the area or repaint. “Don’t be afraid — it’s just paint,” she says.

It’s easy to get carried away with French country style, with oodles of scrollwork, bushels of flowers, and layer upon layer of print fabrics. But the most successful rooms try to preserve the feeling of that picnic on a hillside. “Just enough of too much” is Boyd’s philosophy.




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