How to Nurture French Country Artful Living

One of my favorite parts of summer is how things naturally slow down. Where I live, the pace slows and moods lift, making just about all trips away from home more pleasant. Is there a way to capture this more easygoing summer spirit and exhibit it all year long? And what about infusing our interiors with that flavor? Certain cultures and places seem to have it down to an art, and today we’ll turn our attention to the French countryside. How to Nurture French Country Artful Living? Let’s look at clues and cues from sources like this one:

French farmhouse exterior with green shutters, climbing vines, and rustic textures - from LA VIE EST BELLE by Henrietta Heald. #frenchcountryliving #frenchfarmhouseexterior

Elegant Artful Living in the French Style

La Vie Est Belle is a beautiful book by Henrietta Heald (photos here are ©Ryland Peters & Small) I shared with you a couple years ago and is full of inspiration for living with elegant simplicity.

La Vie Est Belle by Henrietta Heald - book cover. #frenchcountrybooks
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, photo: ©Ryland Peters & Small.

It’s such a lovely book in which to escape when you have a slow morning or afternoon to sip, read, and just BE.

Hello Lovely Studio's white Shaker kitchen with ingredients for mint ginger tea on the counter. #frenchkitchen #frenchfarmhousekitchen
Hello Lovely Studio

Because too much rushing, doing, and achieving takes a toll.

I think it’s why I look to so many European country interiors, artists, and sensibilities because there is so much less fuss involved.

Ingredients for mint ginger orange tea on the counter (Viatera Minuet quartz) in my kitchen - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio

Sort of like my ginger/orange/mint tea. No fussy recipe required.

Hello Lovely Studio's white Shaker kitchen with ingredients for mint ginger tea on the counter. #frenchkitchen #frenchfarmhousekitchen
Hello Lovely Studio

I sliced ginger root, bruised mint leaves, and squeezed a little citrus before filling the mug with hot water. Just the right drink for devouring LA VIE EST BELLE.

Hello Lovely Studio's white Shaker kitchen with ingredients for mint ginger tea on the counter. #frenchkitchen #frenchfarmhousekitchen
Hello Lovely Studio

Inside you’ll find that each chapter delights with interiors, recipes, markets, architecture, and French culture.

La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, Ryland Peters & Small 2019...photo: © Ryland Peters & Small.

Of course my favorite aspect of this book are the French farmhouse renovations and transformations.

La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, Ryland Peters & Small 2019...photo: © Ryland Peters & Small.

French Country Color Palettes

The third chapter of LA VIE EST BELLE highlights Poitou-Charentes and Aquitaine. We’re treated to an exploration of charming color palettes as well as a discussion of natural light across various regions of France.

French farmhouse design inspiration. La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, Ryland Peters & Small 2019.
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, Ryland, photo: ©Ryland Peters & Small

The courtyard with beautiful French green shutters (above) exemplifies the use of quiet and misty blue-greens and blue-greys used so artfully by the French to calm and soothe.

Ingredients for mint ginger tea assembled on a tray in Hello Lovely's French inspired kitchen.

Even a simple thin striped dishtowel in your own kitchen can be suggestive of French style if you too admire the look.

French country stripe dish towel set. #frenchcountry #frenchkitchen #dishtowels
Striped Dish Towel Set, Brooke & Lou

Transforming a French Farmhouse

In a French farmhouse on a rocky ledge between Mougins and Grasse, a 1950’s home looks two hundred years older thanks to its innovative owners (the Schouten family).

Just look at the home’s beautiful arched entrance!

Henrietta Heald writes,

“The original exterior walls, dating from the 1950s, were made thicker and faced in local stone to give them a rugged appearance. Reclaimed shutters, painted soft sage green, open to reveal a gently arched doorway.”

French farmhouse entrance with beautiful tall muted grey shutters and little French dog - from La Vie Est Belle (Henrietta Heald/Ryland Peters Small). #frenchfarmhouse #frenchkitchen #frenchshutters #frenchdog
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, photo ©Ryland Peters & Small

Oh, my! Do you love the interesting cabinetry details? Isn’t it encouraging that renovations can be so successful that they would fool anyone!?!

An Inspiring Restored Chateau

One of my favorite chateau tours in the book ushers us into the rustic elegance of Chateau Gignac, a home in the Luberon restored by the Jouberts.

In the double-height entrance hall of this restored home (below), is a very sparely furnished space. With only a French settee and an antique console table, the focus remains on the cobblestone floor, a sculptural staircase, and the rich rugged textures of rustic stone.

Breathtaking French country interior with sweeping staircase, plaster walls, stone floors, and Old World style - from La Vie Est Belle by Henrietta Heald. #frenchcountrystaircase #frenchinteriors #frenchfarmhouse
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, photo ©Ryland Peters & Small

There’s a masterful mix of greys in an upper hall of the chateau that you may find impossibly tranquil.

Grey and white marble tiled flooring, various shades of grey on the walls, and creamy plaster mouldings work magic in their harmony.

It is worth taking a moment to study the composition which could have easily gone wrong if the owners had disturbed it too much or infused sweetness rather than an artful layering of textures and timeless warmth.

French country elegant Old World style interior with stone, terracotta, plaster, rustic decor, and antiques - from La Vie Est Belle by Henrietta Heald. #frenchcountryinteriors
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, photo ©Ryland Peters & Small

Country French Garden Inspiration

Regarding this charming sanctuary of a peaceful garden spot at a home in a hamlet south of the Seine valley, author Henrietta Heald writes:

“Secluded corners designed for relaxing are a feature of the garden. Here the decorative approach is simplicity itself; a small circular metal table, geraniums in a Versailles planter and wire birdcages adorning the walls.”

Bright blue shutters and accents in French farmhouse garden with bistro chair - from La Vie Est Belle by Henrietta Heald. #frenchgarden #frenchcountryexterior #frenchhomes
La Vie Est Belle: The Elegant Art of Living in the French Style by Henrietta Heald, photo ©Ryland Peters & Small

When the author turns her attention to the island Île de Ré, off the West Coast of France, I thought immediately of Vivi et Margot’s Charlotte Reiss, who introduced me to the magic of the place.

Charlotte’s French farmhouse kitchen (below) near Bordeaux is a study in elegant artful French living!

Authentic rustic elegant French farmhouse kitchen near Bordeaux with terracotta hex tile floor and putty cabinets - Vivi et Margot. #frenchkitchen #frenchfarmhouse

While a trip to France to score antiques and authentic finds is ideal, fortunately sources such as Vivi et Margot exist for French homewares and French inspired finds to discover online.

Authentic rustic elegant French farmhouse kitchen near Bordeaux with terracotta hex tile floor and putty cabinets - Vivi et Margot. #frenchkitchen #frenchfarmhouse

Sometimes you can even score surprisingly lovely French country finds in unexpected places (such as my very own Amazon storefront RIGHT HERE).

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Resources to Decorate and Furnish Interiors With French Style

I have a mad crush on this bench and wonder if I may find a place for it at the new house:

I can imagine planning a breakfast nook or casual dining room around these cute Louis style chairs:

Here’s a counter stool that could infuse elegance into any number of kitchens!

It could even be pretty in a bathroom, yes? It is getting harder to find beautiful antique farm tables so readymade examples are a good consolation:

Cheve Dining Table
Dining Table: FIND HERE…certainly lovely indeed.
Parfondeval Double Pedestal Dining Bench. French Country Furniture Finds. Because European country and French farmhouse style is easy to love. Rustic elegant charm is lovely indeed.
Pedestal Dining Table: FIND HERE…certainly lovely indeed.

This curvy piece could be stunning in the right foyer, dressing area or bedroom:

Safavieh French Country Upholstered Bench
Safavieh French Bench…certainly lovely indeed.

More interior designers have incorporated this mirror into their schemes than I can say:

French country mirror
French Country Mirror: FIND HERE.

I’m in the market for a coffee table since I think the size of my rustic one is too hefty at the new house. This one would provide a better scale:

Francoise Coffee Table. French Country Furniture Finds. Because European country and French farmhouse style is easy to love. Rustic elegant charm is lovely indeed.
French Inspired Coffee Table: FIND HERE…certainly lovely indeed.

Paint Color Ideas for Pale Country French Palettes

How I Create Artful French Style at Home

If you read this blog, by now you probably know my style is relaxed and highly intuitive. I don’t have time for a bunch of design rules. I find a mix of high, low, castoffs, vintage, antiques and new can play nice together when the color story is pale and neutral.

My cozy French country dining room with Louis chairs, round table, and Belgian linen - Hello Lovely Studio.

These Louis style dining chairs work well in a variety of settings. In our former dining room, they worked with the slope arm slipcovered chairs, and they look just as natural and classic at the new house.

Lilian Oval Back Dining Side Chair. French Country Furniture Finds. Because European country and French farmhouse style is easy to love. Rustic elegant charm is lovely indeed.
Oval Back Dining Chair: FIND HERE…certainly lovely indeed.

If I was in the market for a new farm table, here’s a contender:

This one is simple and relatively inexpensive:

Valerie Solid Wood Dining Table
Valerie Farm Table…certainly lovely indeed.

While I still love my French country counter stools, I’m not sure they will work in the new kitchen since I may need stools to tuck under the island.

24" Counter Height Stool. French Country Furniture Finds. Because European country and French farmhouse style is easy to love. Rustic elegant charm is lovely indeed.
Set of 2 Oval Back French Country Counter Stools: FIND HERE…certainly lovely indeed.

Thanks for entertaining these inspiring glimpses of artful French living and reflections about achieving elegance at home.

p.s.

Also in this wonderful book? The French artist Claire Basler’s South of France home. Familiar with her work?

Floral painting by Claire Basler.

The artist truly knows her way around elegant artful French living!

Floral painting by Claire Basler.

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

Shop for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE, and also find home decor here to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!

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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Stripe Seagrass Basket Set
29″ Whitewashed Table Lamp Set of 2
White Matelasse Quilt on MY BED
THE BEST Energy Bars!
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
Myla Slipcover Sofa
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Slipcovered Dining Chair
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Parisian Style Iron Table Lamp  33.5″
Black or Bronze Accent Table
French Stripe Basket Set
White Cotton Crochet Bed Skirt
French Country Rattan Basket Set
Marble Subway Mosaic Tile
Rattan Basket With Lid
White Ruffle Bedding
Seagrass Basket Set
Schumacher Wild Things Wallpaper
Slipcovered Sofa
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp Set
White Matelasse Quilt
French Country Mirror
Faux Potted French Lavender
Shaw Daybed
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Round French Tufted Ottoman
Kinston Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Slipcovered Linen Chair
Warner Upholstered Bench
Rustic Country French Dresser
Laurel Wreath Mirror
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
Louis Upholstered Bench
Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Carved Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Tray Side Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Wicker Trunk Set
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
Mohair Throw
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Duvet & Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Kendall Skirted Dining Chair
White Charleston Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Cashmere Throw With Fringe
Black Bergamot Soy Candle
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
White Waffle Coverlet
Light Grey Vienna Quilt
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Rattan Hanging Chair Swing
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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Stripe Seagrass Basket Set
29″ Whitewashed Table Lamp Set of 2
White Matelasse Quilt on MY BED
THE BEST Energy Bars!
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
Myla Slipcover Sofa
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Slipcovered Dining Chair
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Parisian Style Iron Table Lamp  33.5″
Black or Bronze Accent Table
French Stripe Basket Set
White Cotton Crochet Bed Skirt
French Country Rattan Basket Set
Marble Subway Mosaic Tile
Rattan Basket With Lid
White Ruffle Bedding
Seagrass Basket Set
Schumacher Wild Things Wallpaper
Slipcovered Sofa
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp Set
White Matelasse Quilt
French Country Mirror
Faux Potted French Lavender
Shaw Daybed
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Round French Tufted Ottoman
Kinston Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Slipcovered Linen Chair
Warner Upholstered Bench
Rustic Country French Dresser
Laurel Wreath Mirror
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
Louis Upholstered Bench
Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Carved Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Tray Side Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Wicker Trunk Set
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
Mohair Throw
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Duvet & Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Kendall Skirted Dining Chair
White Charleston Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Cashmere Throw With Fringe
Black Bergamot Soy Candle
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
White Waffle Coverlet
Light Grey Vienna Quilt
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Rattan Hanging Chair Swing