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What defines the style that has been around for ages? When asked what is exactly French Country style, I picture natural wood, stone walls, tiled floors worn by generations, everything in a muted color palette, touches of brass, shine of old silver, a sparkle of crystal chandeliers, buttery yellow of old stoneware, gleam of mirrors, texture of linen... There is an easy going personality about this style, never forced. It is casual, almost no maintenance, and soothing on the eyes. The style one can live with forever.

Its is also a workhorse - no matter what you do, mess it up, work it hard, use it relentlessly, it only looks better and better. Nothing needs to be too perfect, polished, ironed and starched to perfection. Although there are many interpretations of this enduring style, the elements that are always there are natural materials of wood, linen, wicker, and thick ceramic can take abuse of every day life, and age beautifully.

The more I collect the items that make my heart sing, the more I fall in love with this easy going and yet so beautiful way of decorating. And yet, this simple and elegant style can be achieved almost effortlessly. It has been around for centuries, and yet remains uncomplicated, balancing elegant and rustic, simple and sophisticated. I think of it as a white button down and jeans of interior design. Luxurious, but down to earth.

Perfect in every room in the home, it works particularly well in the kitchen, where one can

invest in a great set of copper pans (it will reward you with hard work, and improving looks, for years), stack up linen torchons in a wicker basket, and ironstone dishes high.

Never buttoned up, ironed out, too polished, it encourages long conversations, candle lit dinners, slower pace of living...

We are obviously huge fans of French country style at My French Maison. Many books were written about it, with excellent photography, so I am not even going to try to do a one better here! I have been a fan for over thirty years, and having lived in many types of homes - from a cottage to a mid-century modern home, I always managed to bring in some of the French country into my space. We now live in a hundred year old Haussmannian apartment, and te French country spirit lives well within its walls (next to a bit of Art Nouveau!).

When I look for French country elements at French flea markets, here are the objects that are always on my radar: I simply cannot pass up on linen kitchen towels, white ironstone, blue on white transferware dishes, aged silver flatware, wood cutting boards, brass and silver candlesticks, copper pots and pans, wicker baskets...

Naturally I prefer vintage and antique pieces that give the instant lived-in look to the space. And let's not forget the little things that although are not functional, add the texture and visual interest. Little wooden stools (chippy paint won't hurt!), wicker baskets, wooden petanque balls, big spools of natural colored yarn... It's the balance of rustic and refined of weathered finishes, natural materials, that give the casual elegant look of French country.

The style has fluidity - after all decorating should be fun! - it ventures into rustic, dips its toes in "cottage" and "shabby chic". I have some personal favorites that I happily mix into the neutral, greige decor I prefer: the silver plated trays, antique white porcelain (preferably with the charming heads in the sides), antique books with faded illustrations and ivory white pages, and antique fabrics with romantic, garden elements, that I am becoming quite passionate about.

Where to get it? For me the constant source of what for us is "French country", are (you guessed it!) the flea markets in France. Many garage sales by you will often have a thing or two... Same goes for charity and thrift shops, and don't forget listings for estate sales (the pandemic might have put a damper on some of these though...). And of course there is us :) and may other independent collectors and sellers on-line, passionate about what the do and offer. I am a bit too much obsessed with Pinterest , and of course Instagram (you can follow us there by clicking on the links).

If you've read this post to the end, I know that you are already a fan of the French country style, or you're just falling in love... But if you're a sceptic, all I can say that even when you have only a small nook to play with, a bunch of fresh flowers in a white pitcher will take it into the "right" direction.

- by Joanna

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