The Ultimate Guide: French Provincial Kitchens
The French Provincial kitchen style falls under the country or traditional kitchens heading. Similar to Hamptons style kitchens in some ways, French Provincial kitchens have their roots in the centuries-old chateaus of France.
These kitchens are traditional, beautiful and highly detailed. They celebrate the skilled craftsmen who put them together for function as well as style. Simple, natural materials that were available centuries ago form the basis of the materials that should be used when you create your own beautiful take on the French Provincial style.
French Provincial style can be brought in to your home in varying measures depending on the scale of your home. Details can be turned up or down according to individual preferences and the style you choose for the rest of your home.
The most important part of the chateau kitchen was a huge hearth. This was where the cooking was done and it was large enough to cook enough to feed the parties of nobles that were often entertained in such residences. While we no longer make use of such huge, hot cooking appliances today, it is possible to tip the hat to this traditional kitchen necessity.
Mantles and half mantles provide a focal point for your French Provincial kitchen. They are a great place to hide a modern range hood and in some cases have hidden, yet very accessible, storage for spices and oils – right where you need them. These mantles can be as decorative or pared back as you wish.
Decorative Carving and Mouldings
Display of workmanship was of great importance in the chateaus of France. Accordingly, French Provincial kitchens today must show that same display of workmanship in the form of carvings, decorative profiles and mouldings.
Mouldings such as corbels and carvings such as reeding and half turned posts turn up the warmth and add a sense of timelessness. Profiles are the mouldings on doors and the edge of benchtops that provide the bumps and grooves that add interest and decoration. The door profile can be carried through other parts of the kitchen as panelling to tie the whole look together.
French Provincial Kitchens can cope with mid to high-level decoration on doors and benchtops. Ensure you choose your mouldings in consultation with your designer as they will help you tie the look in with the style of the rest of your home.
Mouldings are a Smith & Smith speciality! For more information on how to make use of these in your kitchen, see our handy blog post here.
Natural colours drawn from timber, stone, slate and weathered cane are all possibilities in your French Provincial kitchen; think creams, greys and subtle greens and browns. French Provincial kitchens can handle the two-tone colour scheme that has risen in popularity over the last few years.
Natural colours can be complemented by decorative items in a colour scheme that ties in with the rest of your home. If you are unsure of how to make it work, be sure to consult your designer for tips.
Natural Materials for Cabinets and Benchtops
Cabinets that feature open shelving look great with natural timber highlights. Whether it is a plate rack in natural timber or a few timber shelves within a painted unit, the warmth of timber adds a certain je ne sais quoi to your French Provincial kitchen. Open shelving is your opportunity to display your decorative items and your personal style. Items on display add greatly to the warmth and personality of a French Provincial kitchen. It also provides easy access to items that are used daily. If you have beautiful copper cookware or antique cooking implements – make them a feature by storing them on your open shelving.
Timber benchtops also provide warmth and can be complemented with natural or engineered because this style lends itself to a little mix and match. If selecting timber for your benchtop, consider a decorative benchtop profile that harks back to the days when it would have been hand carved.
Natural stone has been used around the hearth since fire was first lit. It is a natural fit because it is fire-proof, hard-wearing and beautiful to look at. The colour range of natural granite and marble is seemingly endless. For a unified look, consider carrying the stone benchtop up the wall for a fireproof, easy to clean splashback around the cooktop.
Natural Materials for Flooring
Natural flooring is a must for a French Provincial kitchen. It should talk to the natural tones you have chosen for the colour of the cabinets. The flooring of this kind is not only beautiful but also hard-wearing. Engineered timber floorboards are available now in wider widths that are well suited to this style.
Worn-in is the look to go with for French Provincial. Slightly distressed or limed timber floorboards are a wonderful addition as are stone tiles that are not too sharply squared off. Natural materials lend themselves to this effect because they are naturally imperfect.
French Provincial Tapware
The scullery maids of provincial France a century and a half ago could only dream of plumbing within the chateau – let alone hot water on tap! Mercifully, we have easy access to this luxury now and our tapware only hints at times gone by. The English Tapware Company has many beautiful examples of taps that suit a French Provincial kitchen.
This is where you choose your hero. Will it be the mantle or a chandelier or a hanging pot holder full of copper pots? A French Provincial kitchen needs a focal point. If you are going for a mantle that fades into the background, consider a romantic chandelier – or set of pendants such as was chosen for this kitchen.
Some French Provincial kitchens work well with the addition of a huge clock as the focal point or another item that offers a little rustic or romantic charm.
These kitchens have a lot of personality and shine brightest when you have decorative items to display. This gives a sense of authenticity as well as a lived-in elegance.
If you like the French Provincial look but find the style too decorative, consider a Hamptons Style kitchen.