What first comes to mind when we picture rural France? Just say the word “Provence” and I bet you get a million and one beautiful pictures in your mind. Rural France identity is based on the backbone of family and their sense of community. Their lives are influenced by the seasons including the traditions they celebrate and the food they prepare. Casually elegant would be an excellent way to describe French Country Decor. Children in France enjoy the influence of extended family (grandparents play a huge role!) and also the access to fresh food, rolling fields, and simple yet comfortable homes. What better theme to design your new baby room around then the influence of the French countryside? In the coming paragraphs we will touch on the basics of French Country Design and how you can incorporate these suggestions to create the most serene and comfortable french country baby room. This is not a budget breaking theme – when done correctly, it is simple and effective.
The first place to start is your base of wall color. This sets the mood and tone for the baby room. Traditional french country walls include rough stained plaster, and soft colors inspired by nature. I may be conservative, but I would err on the side of caution. I do not think you need to rough plaster your walls to achieve a French country look. A solid paint color is sufficient enough to create your theme. This is also easier to maintain and change as your child grows. Because French Country colors are inspired by nature, there are three obvious choices. Blues, lavenders, and yellows are all considered nature colors inspired by the fields of lavender, nurtured by the sun in the clear blue sky. How is that for painting a picture? I would suggest picking one of these Benjamin Moore colors: Palladian Blue, French Lilac, or Lemon Souffle. So now you have your base.
Another important element you want to incorporate into your baby room is the furniture pieces. French Country typically uses distressed pine and wickers. If you have a simple background for painted walls (no distressed or stained plaster) then you can go a little wild with the distressed furniture. A great and easy idea is whitewashing your furniture. You can purchase raw pine pieces and white wash them yourself in a snap. You can find whitewashing instructions at e-How.com and you can see how simple it can be. This will also enable you to pick up used pieces of furniture and finish them to your taste. Very budget friendly. The typical pieces of furniture you will find in a French Country baby room would be the crib, change table, rocking chair and armoire for storage. Whitewashing or distressing would be great finishes for the change table and the armoire. With the crib, a black or wrought iron “look” would complement this design. A rocking chair in wicker should be placed under the window to take advantage of the natural lighting.
Fabrics play another huge role in achieving the French Country Look for your baby room. Curtains should be soft and flowing. Cotton Gauze fabric can be used for full length curtains. Gauze fabric which the French important from Gaza softens the walls of the room,but it is soft and transparent enough to be used at full length to add drama to the design. The gauze curtains should be combined with a roller blind to ensure you have a blacked out room during the day when your baby naps. French Country lifestyle enjoys natural rhythms of the daylight – they awaken when it’s light out and go to sleep when it’s dark. They also have soft lighting when it’s dark and this enables them to feel sleepy when it’s time to go to bed. A flood of light will stimulate the brain to reduce the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone) so having natural light in the bedroom will stimulate baby awake and having darkness in the bedroom at nap time and nighttime will stimulate the brain to produce more melatonin for a great sleep.
The bedding should be pure white or soft beige to complement the simplicity of country life. You can accent with muted colored pillows such as soft lavenders, orangey reds, and soft yellows. French country design typically uses toille fabrics with scenes incorporated on them such as little girls in swings, couples under trees, or elaborate Fleur De Lys designs. As long as these fabrics are muted or faded they can be used perfectly in the baby room. If the baby room has laminate or hardwood flooring, it is nice to soften the room with an area carpet that is soft to the feet – a great idea would be a natural wool carpet with large loops or a muted design with children’s designs on it. Natural and muted is the theme here.
The next step is to accessorize the baby room. Simple pictures on the wall with block images or distressed images such as country scenes or Fleur De Lys are a great addition. Black and white are great for the baby room as these will stimulate the baby when their eyes can focus on the pictures. No French Country baby room is complete without the addition a DouDou. Doudou’s are a collection of stuffed animals produced in France. Their products range from large stuffed rabbits to small and all are in a vintage design. DouDou is french for a “child’s favorite thing”. For the change table accessories in the baby room, you can store diaper necessities in wicker baskets to complement the rocking chair and gauzy window treatments. You can purchase vintage hangers to hang your baby’s special clothing and these hangers can be displayed on the wall or back of the door as well for effect. The final thing you will want to complement your baby room with is some homemade lavender room spray.
This is a simple easy to make product that is made from distilled water, and several drops of pure lavender essential oil. Combine the water and about 10 drops of pure essential lavender oil in a regular spray bottle. Shake it up and spray. Lavender is a natural sedative and a couple sprays of this into baby’s room at nap time will ensure a deep slumber with no chance for allergy complications since it is a natural homemade product. Simple lavender essential oil and water sprayed on baby linens and ironed in will produce natural fresh smelling sheets. In the French Country lifestyle, lavender is a way of life. It is a natural sedative, pain killer and prevents bug infestations such as fleas. But the fresh outdoorsy smell is reason enough to use it!
Finally remember – French Country design is based on natures colors and seasons. Use comfortable fabrics, soothing colors, and soft smells. Enjoy decorating your baby room and who knows once you decorate this special room, you may decide to incorporate some French Country Design into other parts of your home. It’s a lifestyle worth embracing since it has such an emphasis on family dedication and community inspiration.
Lori Metivier -Home Decor specialist since 2006. Previous owner of a home decor store and design assistant. Currently designs and sets up show homes in new real estate developments.
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