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How to Create a French Country Kitchen on a Budget

Maria is a master gardener, master of public health, grantwriter, artist, photographer, editor, & proofreader. She lives in coastal Alabama.

Even the Smallest Touches Can Create the Desired Effect

A little vignette on the end of our kitchen counter.

A little vignette on the end of our kitchen counter.

Creating a Country French Kitchen in an English Tudor Home

Love the French Country style? Can't afford to redo your home all at once? No worries, there are many little things you can do to bring a French feel into your humble abode. In other words, create your own French Country kitchen on a budget. The photo below shows part of the kitchen of our former home near Birmingham, Alabama, after I had made a few changes. Below, I will share with you how I gradually gave that home more of a French Country feel.

I love anything French, particularly the French Country style of home decorating. That home was an English Tudor-style home, but I was determined to give the inside a Country French look. The day we first saw the house, it was decorated for Christmas.

One change we made that fits beautifully with French Country décor, without harming the integrity of that Old English home, is to replace both the vinyl kitchen floor and carpeted living room floor with wide-plank distressed hardwood floors. It's amazing how much larger the areas appear when not visually divided by carpet meeting vinyl. We also replaced the sunroom doors with beautiful French doors.

I had planned to paint the large country kitchen a pale buttery yellow. Before I got around to doing that, we decided to build our dream retirement home in a better climate. So, my pale buttery yellow paint will go into our new home.

French Country Kitchen

That house had a great kitchen with lots of work space. I really miss that kitchen.

That house had a great kitchen with lots of work space. I really miss that kitchen.

Toile Plate Vignette

country-french-decor

Easy and Inexpensive French Touches

These small decorating touches kept me satisfied until I could do more extensive decorating. This photo is of a small vignette I set up on top of some of the kitchen cabinets. It was simple and inexpensive to put together, and my grandmother's Blue Willow plate seems to fit nicely with the toile plates and the wine box. The other two plates I bought locally. The wine box (seen in the upper right corner of the photo) was left behind by the previous owners of this home.

There are many books on the subject of French style and customs. Here's one of them:

No-cost Things You Can Do to Give Your Home a French Touch

And they won't cost you a penny:

  • Instead of making your bed in the traditional American way, turn down the covers with the pretty side of the sheet showing. Simply put the flat sheet right side down, so that, when folded back, the right side is up. Then pile on lots of fluffy pillows.


  • Use lots of fresh flowers in your home. If you must, use silk-flower arrangements.


  • Remember that the bath is to soothe and relax. Put your bath beads and body wash, etc., in a little basket and leave it beside your bathtub. If space allows, put out some thick, fluffy towels.

Our New Kitchen

Our new kitchen, shown below, is much smaller. We had it painted a pale buttery yellow. The wind topper was above the shower curtain in our previous home. They fit right in for this kitchen. The little decorative hand towel in the foreground was handed down from my mom. It adds a nice touch. We hate that ceramic tile floor, but it appears we will have to live with it.

Here is What We've Done with Our Current Kitchen

American Kitchens with French Decor Often Include Roosters, Fruit, French Hydrangea, and Sunflowers

The photo above is of another of the vignettes atop the cabinets in my former kitchen that included all of these: roosters, hydrangea, fruit, and sunflowers. I have collected these items gradually over many years. Also included are some dried hydrangea blossoms from the garden, and a beautiful rooster. It turns out, however, that it is we Americans who use roosters in creating French kitchen decor. I'm told roosters are not common in kitchens in France. Oh, well. I do love my two roosters.

Want to add a bit of French culture to your life?

Here are some common French practices that will give you that touch of elegance so often lacking in our casual and hurried lifestyles:

  • When invited to someone's home for dinner, DO NOT arrive early. Ever. Also, never arrive more than 15 minutes past the stated time. To do either is considered extremely rude.


  • Never, ever apply lipstick, or powder your face in public. This is considered to be part of your "toilette" and is done only in private.


  • If asking for a recipe, do it after the meal, not at the table.


  • Always taste each food item at a dinner party. It is rude not to do so, unless of course, you are allergic to a particular food.


  • Always, always send a thank-you note after spending an evening at someone else's home, or being invited out with others.

There Are Many Color Schemes in French Country Decor

Country French decor makes good use of the vibrant primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, as well as pastel yellow & light blue, and black & white, but is not limited to these. They are simply the most common.

Learn a Language

Parlez-vous Francais? French is the most beautiful language in the world; it's also the language of international treaty negotiations. I'm far from fluent, but love the language. I still have a lot to learn, and will be returning to my studies of French, Spanish, and Italian with Rosetta Stone in hopes of someday visiting those countries.

Quick and Easy Way to Learn a Language

Another small vingette.

country-french-decor

These little curtains came with the house, and were sold with the house. I added the little French teapot-shaped egg basket the red and white rooster plate. When we moved, I made new windows toppers in black and white toile, trimmed with black and white gingham piping/welting for our new kitchen. They look great on the buttery yellow walls.

Take This Poll About Home Decor

Great French Cookbooks

I have several great French cookbooks. I love them all, and use them frequently.

Bonjour! Bonsoir! Thank you for visiting. I hope I gave you an idea of how inexpensive it is to add some lovely Country French touches to your home. Please leave a comment and let me know you dropped by. Au revoir!

© 2011 MariaMontgomery

Comments

Ann Reynolds on September 18, 2018:

Love La belle France...your site brought back many memories especially your rooster.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on November 15, 2015:

Thank you. I love that fabric. I bet you love yours, too. Thanks for visiting.

moonlake from America on October 10, 2015:

Very nice French country kitchen. I have some of the fabric your curtains are made of.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on November 11, 2013:

@Meganhere: Thank you. And thank you for the squidlikes on my lenses.

Meganhere on October 24, 2013:

Your French kitchen is lovely!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 02, 2013:

@ChristyZ: Thank you, Christy, and thanks for the squidlike and for voting in my poll. All are appreciated.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 02, 2013:

@iamme89: Thank you, and thanks for the squidlike, too.

iamme89 on September 02, 2013:

I love your French Kitchen. It gives a cozy and warm feeling watching it., I would love to have one.

ChristyZ on August 31, 2013:

Beautiful decorating ideas!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on June 22, 2013:

@SusanDeppner: Thanks, Susan, for such a nice comment. I really enjoyed reading about your roosters and your kitchen, too.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on June 14, 2013:

Your kitchen is beautiful! I love the style and the pretty colors. And, as you already know, I truly love the roosters! Beautifully done - great resources here!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on March 27, 2013:

@flinnie lm: Thank you for the nice comment and for the squidlike. Both are appreciated.

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on March 26, 2013:

Hi I love this look for the kitchen, great ideas here.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on November 05, 2012:

@Wedding Mom: So glad you enjoyed it; and thank you for the squidlike and for voting in my polls.

Wedding Mom on November 04, 2012:

Great kitchen ideas. I enjoyed reading your lens. Thanks.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 31, 2012:

@dellgirl: Thank you, dellgirl. Visit anytime, and thanks for the nice comment.

dellgirl on October 30, 2012:

You have a great collection of ideas for a Country French Kitchen on a Budget, I enjoyed it. Nice work.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 30, 2012:

@anonymous: Bonjour! Cava? Thank you so much for the angel blessing and the squidlike. They are both very much appreciated.

anonymous on October 29, 2012:

Bonjour! Enjoyed the French décor selections!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 26, 2012:

@delia-delia: I know that apartment in Paris must have been lovely, and I bet your kitchen now is beautiful, too. According to my polls, the Country French style is 2nd only to eclectic décor. Thank you so much for the squidlike, comment, and angel blessing.

Delia on October 26, 2012:

Bonjour! Great lens! I love French Country and have my kitchen there halfway. We had just rented an apartment in Paris and it was an incredible elegant French Country décor, it was beautiful.. My house is eclectic but leans to the French or European décor.

~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 20, 2012:

@sheilamarie78: Hi, sheilamarie! Thank you for the squidlike and comment. And thanks for visiting my lens.

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on October 15, 2012:

I love the French country style! I hope you get to paint your kitchen soon. Sounds lovely!

anonymous on September 01, 2012:

Like the ideas very much although my House is decorated with a bit of this and that at the moment.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on August 04, 2012:

@sheriangell: Thank you for the comment and squidlike, and for the Angel Blessing. They are very much appreciated.

sheriangell on August 03, 2012:

Love the French Country theme. You did a great job on this lens and in your home. Angel blessed today!

Michey LM on May 08, 2012:

I like French country décor you did a great job on the lens.

AJ from Australia on March 21, 2012:

The French Country theme is beautiful and I would love to use it in a different home in a different environment. Enjoy your decorating! Blessed.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on March 09, 2012:

You have some excellent suggestions and the layout of this page is very pleasing too; Blessings to you!

Mickie Gee on February 02, 2012:

I would like to recommend a cookbook by Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris. It would look great on your kitchen counter. I have always loved the romantic look of French designs in the home.

CoeGurl on November 16, 2011:

I, too, love Country French Décor. Your kitchen looks wonderful.

Tracy Arizmendi from Northern Virginia on November 04, 2011:

Beautiful pics! I loved the part about not arriving early or late for dinner engagments & sending thank you notes.

Marie on November 03, 2011:

Beautiful lens - I do like the French Country style and some of our home is decorated that way but other bits are more modern.

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