Just what IS a French Country Kitchen? How do you make a French Farmhouse Kitchen?

How do you get the look of a real, lived in French farmhouse? The look is more easily achieved than you think. In my recent YouTube two-part video I joked about becoming un-addicted to white shiplap… but really… I want to talk about rustic, crusty, cooked in, homey spaces.

Please don’t get me wrong. I think those kitchens that are all white, with gorgeous shades of grey and burlap accents of this and that are lovely.   They really are. My own mother’s kitchen has a gorgeous, primarily neutral palette…. but you need more cowbell? I need more color. In fact, if you use the hashtag #Frenchfarmhouse on Instagram you’ll be treated to an almost all white feed and sometimes… just sometimes you’ll see a splash of color.   Sometimes that splash of color is yours truly.  I stick out like a sore thumb.

The YouTube vids really say it all. But I had all these pretty pics I just had to share with you. I’m so excited about this space, I’m sure it will morph over the years as new inspiration hits and new/old treasures are found but I can’t believe what it looked like just nine months ago…

What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen

When we bought this house about nine months ago the kitchen was an old lady nightmare.

Blue, flowered wallpaper, dark raw cedar cabinets, bright orange IKEA, sperm shaped  lighting.

A huge pantry pushed out into the room the stove wrapped out into the kitchen with MORE overhead cabinets and in a room with poor lighting from outdoors, it felt like a dungeon. But on that first walk through, I saw beyond all that.

I saw those impressive beams, and imperfectly perfect butcher block counter tops. I saw a place for my twin chandies and for the copper sink I had stored in my barn for the previous two years.

I saw a green house right off the kitchen just like at our little rental farm and I saw a place to create the faux fireplace I wanted to feature the range that I didn’t yet own. My wheels were spinning.

It took a lot of vision to see past all that blue wallpaper. But we bought the house and ten minutes after moving in began tearing down cabinets.

What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen

My element of quirky is the birch wood. It’s not a complete thought but we had tons of it and it’s what I had to work with. Would I love cut up barn beams? Sure, but these were readily available.

What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen

This is where the hideous electric oven was, in the middle of the room with overhead cabs. (Featured in Episode Two of Everyday Chateau)

What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen

The site of the former pantry. We are on the hunt for the perfect piece of salvaged wood for the mantle but for now… a heavy old door we found in the garage.

What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen
What is a French Country Kitchen

How to you make a French Farmhouse Kitchen?

Create your own French Farmhouse Kitchen by adding:

  • Splashes of color (blame it on all those hours spent reading Décor et Maison but French Blue, Provançe Yellow and Kelly Green are gonna push the look you’re going for)
  • A variety of textures (wood, stone, metal, terra cotta)
  • Rustic wood or salvaged terra cotta floors
  • Gathered treasures from over the years
  • Baskets everywhere. Tout le monde. Plop them in corners, hang them from the ceilings. Be sure to enjoy the vids below to see my favorite baskets.
  • Bring furniture into the space (setées, chairs, armoires)
  • Textiles reign supreme  (Toile de Jouy, rag rugs, linens, linens and more linens)
  • Don’t be afraid of tastefully done reproductions but don’t expect to get this complete look at Homegoods either
  • And last but not least, an element of quirky (I’m going to expand on this below)

Look, a real old French Farmhouse kitchen isn’t perfect.

There’s limited electrical outlets, rough-hewn countertops, butcher blocks, pots and pans out in easy access, herbs on the windowcil or hanging from the ceiling.   I think if you’re going to REALLY go for it then you have to let go of that über manicured look that American kitchens are so married to.

Stuffing coming out of your favorite chair?

Use it.

Found an oil painting you love with a little tear?

Hang it.

Want to tear off some wallpaper to showcase your ancient plaster beneath?

Do it.

A crusty mirror over your stove?

Mais bien sur. But of course.

For my house, the French farmhouse kitchen must be an imitation of life.

I want my space to actually look like some retched old kitchen in France. A place where stained wooden countertops have bread rising, pots and pans are used with love, peely dried onions and garlic are withing reach… a comfy place where children can run in from outside for a snack.  Pain au chocolat?

But am I there yet?


I think to create the look I REALLY want I need to be even braver. A “safe” look is something I don’t want. Does that make sense?

I just can’t have an element of showroom. And the struggle is real.  Yes, I still really struggle with the perfect paint job Joel did on the ceiling… it’s almost perfect. Shame on me. I know. I should be happy with it. But I’m tempted to limewash the beams for a true, old barn sort of look. I don’t want to be safe… but it’s scary!

Immaculate, groomed, shiny spaces are everywhere and it’s easy to be drawn to them like a moth to the flame. I keep having to remind myself of what I want.   Even I, have to keep myself on track and this was all MY hair-brained idea to begin with. It’s been a big challenge to be in constant “deconstruction” mode. I’m used to old houses where you have to do repairs before you can even move forward with your design ideas. 

Here, I am having to undo PERFECTLY GOOD things like hand-built cabinets and pantries built so strong they would have lasted the next two hundred years. There’s an element of insecurity as I’m destroying things some people would love to have themselves…It’s challenging to be sure.

But when I stop all the brain chatter and look at these pictures I realize I’m on track.

What is a French Farmhouse Kitchen?

This is. And I love it.

What is a French Country Kitchen

Here are my previous French Farmhouse Kitchens if you’d like to binge.

Our rental farm kitchen (updated photos of this are featured in From France to the Farm)

The early days of the in-town yellow kitchen