The term “French Provincial” is undoubtedly one of the world’s most recognised design styles. Whether it is just in your kitchen area, or throughout your home, it is hard to fault the tried and tested formula that is the enduring French Provincial style.
Origins of the French Provincial Style
Today’s representation of this timeless aesthetic is still very closely aligned with the features and characteristics found in the 17th and 18th century homes in the south of France. Originating from homes in provinces such as Bordeaux, Brittany, Normandy and Provence, the French Provincial style developed as those in the countryside provinces began to emulate the luxury and lavishness of the surrounding chateaus and grand estates in their own dwellings.
This classic style oozes elegance and refined style. Whilst predominantly remaining true to its origins, over its substantial and enduring lifespan, the French Provincial style evolved ever-so-slightly from its beginnings, such that it is no longer just about decorative luxury. The instantly recognisable features of intricate detailing and the use of natural materials and textures combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere wherever they are found.
French Provincial Style in Today’s Homes
In modern instances of this classic style, homeowners may take inspiration from the prominent features of the French Provincial style and then combine them with some contemporary elements. This approach helps to adapt the traditional style to the current ways of modern life. It also allows for the style to be used in a kitchen design setting without necessarily having to style your entire house that way, or actually having to be in a chateau in the south of France 300 or 400 years ago for it to work. Interestingly, whilst adaptations and interpretations have and continue to take place to a degree, it seems that the true essence of the style has managed to remain consistent to the present day.
What Does a French Provincial Kitchen Look Like?
Now that you know a little bit about where this iconic design style originated from, let’s take a closer look at the elements that makes a French Provincial kitchen so instantly recognisable.
- Carved wooden cabinetry and detailing
Perhaps the easiest way to identify a French Provincial kitchen is the presence of ornate and detailed cabinetry carvings and corbels. If the doors have some dimension and carving to their surface and there are distinctive corbels to be found (usually on the corners of the kitchen island or as part of the rangehood/over the cooking space) then it is pretty safe to say that you are looking at a French Provincial kitchen.
- French inspired architecture
The French inspiration certainly doesn’t end with the cabinetry. There are plenty of other design influences that can be included in a French Provincial kitchen to really emphasise the design style. Small paned as well as leadlight windows, archways, exposed timber roof beams and pitched ceilings, all add to creating a truly French Provincial inspired kitchen. If you have an open plan space, you might consider extending the theme by including the use of French doors to an adjoining space and French inspired furniture such as bar stools and dining sets.
- Natural materials – timber and stone
A traditional French Provincial kitchen predominantly uses the natural material sources of timber and marble. This is indicative of the materials that would have been present and available to the forebearers of the style. The timber does not always have to be immaculately carved and painted though, hints of rustic timber as well as stone alternatives that mimic the look of marble can be found in more recently constructed French Provincial kitchens. You may also likely find wrought iron and other metals used, especially for lighting fixtures, chandeliers, tapware and cabinetry handles.
- Soft, neutral colour palette
In keeping with the natural beauty of the timber and stone, French Provincial kitchens are typically soft and neutral in their colouring. The warm and inviting hues of white, cream and grey are most common.
- Natural (or natural look) flooring
Beautiful timber panel flooring is hugely popular in a French Provincial kitchen. However, timber-look laminates, parquetry and natural stone tiles are also well suited to this style.
- Large oven and rangehood
In the French homes of days gone by (and perhaps still some of them today) cooking was done over a large fireplace with a chimney to extract the smoke. In the French Provincial kitchens of today this practice is honoured with large ovens and large built-in rangehoods that are modelled and styled to replicate the former fireplace and chimney breast structure.
- Ornate tapware
Ornate tapware is another distinguishing feature of the French Provincial kitchen. Featured tapware is usually lever-style and made of metal such as chrome, nickel, pewter or bronze with a ceramic lever for an elegant touch.
- Continue the attention to detail with on-theme accessories
Once all of the main items that are characteristic of the French Provincial style are taken care of, think about how you can continue to further enhance the theme with décor items and accessories. Consider some French inspired linen, white crockery and wicker baskets to really complete the look. Add some subtle hints of colour but nothing to dramatic or bold, you want to be sure to maintain an air of rustic elegance.
There is something truly magical about a French Provincial kitchen that has seen it stand the test of time. Despite the ever-changing landscape of home design, and kitchens in particular, its classic and traditional style has remained as elegant and refined, yet warm and welcoming, as ever. No doubt it will continue to be a popular style choice for new kitchens, now, and well into the future.
The experienced team of designers at Harrington Kitchens have a wealth of expertise in creating kitchens of every style. We are proud to have worked with our valued clients to create some truly amazing French Provincials kitchens and would be only too happy to assist with your dream kitchen project, whether it be French Provincial or another popular style. Contact our team on 1300 662 112, submit an online enquiry or visit us at our Narellan or Bowral showrooms to discuss how we can make your dream kitchen a reality.