A couple of years ago, we toured a gorgeous French farmhouse style cottage (though I think it was actually located in Spain!) which had memorable light French green interior trim as well as touches of soft pink. With the rusticity of the rest of the design elements in the cottage, it did not come off as dollhouse-y or too precious. Simply pretty and easy to live with. Arriving at the just right tones can take time and sampling, but in the end, you’ll be glad you took that journey. A favorite French green color seen frequently on exteriors all over France is made by Tollens and called Vert Olivier. Charlotte of Vivi et Margot was a fan, and you can see it on the exterior of her former farmhouse in France. Today’s Light French Green Paint Colors are very similar to Vert Olivier. So if you live far from France, you can still find the perfect green for your project!
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Ideas for Light French Green Paint Colors
Have you lived with sage, mint, or light French green? While green isn’t my favorite color, I certainly have. I was paying attention to the very trendy RH Silver Sage in the 90s so I lived with it for a little while. Then in 2004, we moved into a brand new spec house with a primary bedroom painted deep sage. I lived with it for a couple of years and moved before changing it to something lighter. A front door can be the perfect place to try living with a pretty green!
And don’t forget to check the grey paint swatch cards and colors when seeking the perfect light green or sage. Plenty of gray colors read green.
These light French green paint colors may at first strike you as a bit juvenile and feminine. We tend to limit pastel color stories to kids rooms or the shabby chic domain.
But is French green a pastel? It seems to fade to pastel, but it’s brighter and more cheerful. And there’s something magical about the juxtaposition of the cool green when it meets rugged stone, sunny golden tones, white, and grey.
Living With a Light French Green
If green is your favorite color, it can even live in your home as a neutral. This subway tile in Desiree Ashworth’s French country kitchen is a great example. The varying shades of green in the handmade tile help it to feel lively and more interesting than were the green a solid tone.
Choosing the perfect shade of light green is a subjective matter. The process begins with considering greens you admire (pin them to a board and notice the commonalities!). For example, do you keep returning to apple greens? Sage varieties? Olive?
Such exploration will help you limit your search to find your favorites. The process then continues as you sample and view the greens in your space.
Undertones within the paint formula will become more obvious when you view them with other samples or even throughout the day as the light changes at home.
If you’re like me, you may be especially drawn to atmospheric greens. I tend to like grey-green colors that are challenging to describe and create an atmospheric mood. Just look at what’s possible when a few sophisticated greens come together on a mural in an unforgettable design by Cathy Kincaid Interiors for a Manhattan home.
I think the mural is Zuber.
What Makes French Greens so Pretty?
Light green hues feel lifegiving and are suggestive of tranquility, restoration and refreshment. When leaves are young, they are lighter green so perhaps as greens go it also suggests youth, new life, and even an eternal spring.
Look at the pretty green leaves above and see the contrast of deep green below:
What I love about a light French green is how it feels faded from time and sunshine.
Doesn’t it feel washed out and worn from the years?
It also feels sweetly appetizing for those with a sweet tooth so it’s no wonder Laduree uses it so lusciously.
That Famous Tollens Green
In France, this light green is the best selling green for exterior shutters and trim.
And it’s truly an iconic look, oui?
Whether you see it on exterior or interior doors, it has a freshness that is hard to beat. When you add touches of pink? Magic:
Here’s a beautiful Notting Hill home I walked by with a door reminding me of Tollens green:
Just gorgeous with the steely soft steel tones and the sea of white. Doesn’t it feel natural in a pretty way that is different from so many muddy earthy greens we associate with organic nature?
Bear in mind a green like this on an exterior is going to be perceived as lighter and washed out in the sun.
And eventually the color obviously fades to an equally pretty pale pastel green.
Paint Colors Similar to Tollens Vert Olivier Green
Here’s our inspiration color once again called Tollens Vert Olivier:
What’s interesting about it is how you can see the yellow undertones yet when you shop for a similar green, most of them have a fair amount of grey in the formula. I think grayed-greens are generally easier to live with for interiors and more popular than yellow-greens.
So let’s peek at some possibilities.
Easiest way to see if a paint color will work? Order samples with Samplize and have them delivered straight to your door.
Benjamin Moore Nob Hill Sage 450
Nob Hill Sage is very close to Tollens Vert Olivier!
Then again, you truly must sample a few similar light sage colors. In this image, Nob Hill Sage appears much more blue than the swatch above. You never know if a photo has been edited or the exposure which may influence the perception.
Sherwin-Williams Mint Condition 6743
In some lighting conditions, Vert Olivier can read very minty. Mint greens can be beautiful when you’re after a French-inspired look. Here’s a trusty contender:
Doesn’t it feel refreshing and clean?
Mint and pastel greens will feel softer than our inspiration green which clearly has yellow:
So it really depends on your personal preference and how the sample looks in your specific context.
Benjamin Moore Tranquility AF-490
I mentioned earlier that grey-greens are very popular because they are so easy to live with and feel neutral. Here’s a sage that similar to the Tollens green but a bit muddier:
Like Tollens green, it is amazing with pink accents!
And it truly lives up to its name, yes?
Sherwin-Williams Aloe 6464
Here’s a light Frenchy green that is cooler than Tranquility and with more blue undertones than Tollens green.
What’s surprising is how an undertone or two will totally transform a sage green or mint green and morph it into a retro green!
Doesn’t it feel like a green from a different era?
Benjamin Moore Sage Tint 458
Not sure why there seems to be a lack of inspiration for BM Sage Tint since it’s a gorgeously soft sage.
So peaceful and balanced. Definitely one to sample.
PPG1139-2 Malted Mint
If you are loving mint green tones and also admire slightly retro greens, Malted Mint may appeal.
It has a brightness that feels cheerful and very French, and it can live in very grown up spaces:
How beautiful is it with this dreamy chambray-sky blue upholstery!?!
PPG Frosty Pine PPG1124-3
Benjamin Moore Antique Glass CSP-695
Benjamin Moore sometimes gives examples of how a paint color varies in light and shadow:
You truly get a sense of how much it can change!
Think You’ll Love a Deeper Moodier French Green?
If you’re seeking a medium green that feels less frosty yet still a bit like Vert Olivier, consider Farrow & Ball’s Breakfast Room Green.
It can look so historical! It’s one of the things I just love about Farrow & Ball colors including their beautiful greens.
They feel so sophisticated whether used traditionally or in modern ways. Not that this application below is modern! Europeans have used color blocks like this for centuries to suggest architectural interest:
Also see SW 9647 Soft Sage, SW 9648 Frosted Fern, and SW 9630 Moonstone.
Green Decor Accents in the Same Spirit
Everyone seems to have a different take on what constitutes a “French green”…what’s yours?
Peace to you right where you are.
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