French country bathroom design has become one of the most popular styles for a luxury bathroom remodel. But it can be a little difficult to pin down what exactly French country design is. After all, it’s based on hundreds of years of design and culture, an inherently eclectic aesthetic that can range anywhere from extremely sophisticated and ornamental all the way to somewhat shabby-chic. If you aren’t sure which direction you want to go, here are a few bathroom vanities that exemplify several different French country styles.
One Big Showpiece
Historically, French design – from architecture to clothing to interior design – is highly self-referential. For hundreds of years, what was fashionable among the nobility would be literally passed down to the lower classes within five or ten years, creating a piecemeal and rather retro fashion cycle. In the same way, furniture from different periods is seamlessly paired together, and really beautiful antiques can be used in a more neutral space to make a statement by contrast. While a French country bathroom will almost always have some rustic elements, it’s this layering of different designs that’s important, and including an elaborate, antique-style piece like this gorgeous Lorraine Vanity from Cole+Co accentuates the luxurious and historical part of a French country design and lends sophistication to your bathroom design.
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Add An Antique
Of course, while you can use an antique in a more neutral space, you can also go farther with it, pairing a beautiful, ornate, antique inspired bathroom vanity like this Carolee Hall Vanity with an oversized gilt mirror in a fancy frame, and maybe even a chandelier. You want to be sure to keep some country elements – whether that’s wood (or wood tile) floors, a clawfoot tub, or exposed beams, but French country design doesn’t have to be simple. French design is all about layering different influences in one space to create an eclectic sort of beauty, but how elegant and ornate you make it is up to you.
Go For Furniture
It’s important to remember that in French country design, the bathroom is treated as a part of the rest of the house, without many of the water and humidity proof rules that contemporary American design usually applies to it. That means not only adding things like rugs, fabric curtains, and fancy lighting fixtures, but also that your bathroom vanity should be more like a piece of furniture than a set of permanent cabinetry. I personally like vanities designed after (or made from) bombe chests like this Walnut Bombe from Hardware Resources, because they give your bathroom the look and feel of a boudoir.
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On the opposite end of the spectrum are bathroom vanities that tend more toward the country end of French country design. Here, picture bathrooms with weathered wood floors, an antique clawfoot tub, whitewashed walls, and an overall slightly weathered feel. This emphasizes both the rustic country feel as well as the reclaimed antique. You can go for more or less rough and rustic – some people like a very heavily weathered finish, but personally I prefer something neat and clean but with a country character, like this lovely Hannah Chest, which keeps some of that sophisticated feeling with a little light gilding in the hand painted details.
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A Touch Of Country?
In some ways, French country bathroom design skates alongside the country or seaside cottage style popular in the American northeast, specifically in terms of using lots and lots of white. Where the designs differ, though, is in terms of accents. This Urban South Hampton vanity from James Martin would look equally lovely in a cape cod or French country bathroom, but in the case of the latter, you’d be more likely to see lots of small ornamentation (like decorative bottles, ornamental lighting fixtures, or other Parisian Chic style details) as opposed to a more spare turn of the century aesthetic.
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Or Slightly More Sophisticated
Another way to make the distinction between a French country style and a more American country cottage style is to up the age and furniture quality. While many cottage style bathroom vanities feature a white-white beadboard finish (which is fab in a country cottage), for a more French style, look for a slightly aged, antiqued finish, and more detailed woodwork. I particularly like this Sanibel Vanity from SunnyWood, which not only has subtle but stunning paneling, but also uses the antique finish to draw out the detail of the lines, giving it a regal sense of age that’s perfect for a French country design.
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Ultimately, French country bathroom design is an aesthetic that borrows heavily from itself and others, and if you like the look, you should, too. A French country bathroom doesn’t have to look like any one thing, but consists of a million different elements you can combine as you see fit. What do you have in mind for your French-inspired bathroom remodel?
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