The French are a clever folk who know how to make the most of what they have. Applied to interior design, this talent is what gives their cottages distinctive character and charm. Giving your home the warmth of a French cottage is easier and less expensive than you might think. French cottage interior design is more about creating an ambience using simple materials and techniques than about spending a lot of money on lavish details.
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Faux Plaster Walls
Many French cottages have thick plaster walls with a distinctive texture. You can create that look with drywall compound and paint or with paint alone. If you opt for the heavy texture, trowel on drywall compound in a sweeping, random pattern. When it dries, paint it a rich red, ochre yellow, deep blue or green--classic country French colours. If you prefer not to texture your walls, you can get a great look by rag-rolling the walls to achieve a faux plaster or stucco effect. This technique will take some experimenting, so try it out on old boards or scraps of sheetrock until you get the look you want. Apply a creamy beige undercoat. When it dries, start rag rolling with one of the deep, rich colours. Make sure the walls take on a mottled, aged appearance with darker and lighter areas. The undercoat should show through in the lighter areas.
Another characteristic of the French cottage interior design is a lively mix of coordinating prints. Here, there are no rules. Choose one primary print for drapes, chairs or sofa, and work from there mixing and matching whatever pleases your eye. Keep all prints within the same group of colours for cohesiveness, but avoid having all of them the same scale. Pair large florals with small checks; throw in some calico prints and stripes of varying widths. Toile is always a good choice and is a fine companion for medium-sized gingham checks. Again, work with a palette of red, yellow, green and blue as the backbone of the scheme.
Carpet is not a French cottage material. The French cottage design starts with floors of wood, tile, brick or stone. There are laminates on the market today that mimic the look of these natural materials. They are less expensive than the real thing, and do not require any special treatments or maintenance products. The look is what you are after, so if money is a concern, try one of these excellent new flooring products. Rugs add a finishing touch to any room and are compatible with the French cottage look. As long as the design is a classic floral, paisley or Oriental, it will work. Purchase rugs at flea markets or through ads in the newspaper; they do not have to be new. Gently worn looks quite at home with the French cottage style.
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