What Is A French Country Kitchen Versus An English Country Kitchen?
These two styles may seem similar upon first glance, but they have distinct personalities.
If you’d like to create a cozy, rustic, and traditional kitchen, you probably already know you want to err toward country design. But is your style French country or English country?
The ambiguity and confusion is understandable, as these two design styles share many similarities. However, they are also incredibly distinguishable once you know the colors, textures, and fabrics that define each.
Enter Rhode Island-based designer Cyndie Seely, who has used both styles in her own stunning interior design projects. Read on for her tips on differentiating between a French country kitchen and an English country kitchen.
French Country Kitchen
- Earthy colors
- Toile fabrics and orderly florals
- Farm animal décor
This style is marked with strong notes of elegance and polish, but still upholds its ode to countryside living. In a true French country kitchen, you’ll easily spot characteristic mustard yellow and warm reds that reflect the surrounding countryside.
“The French country kitchen has earthier tones, while English tones are purer,” says Ceely. “For example, a French kitchen may showcase a mossy green while an English kitchen has a hunter green.”
When choosing how to upholster your kitchen furniture, note that French fabrics exhibit a refined sense of formal elegance.
“With French fabrics, you’ll see flowers lined up in a somewhat organized way,” says Ceely. “Toile fabrics are also very popular in French kitchens. They depict gardens, fountains, and other sanctuaries of elegance for the French.”
When it comes to furniture, French country kitchens typically exhibit pieces with scrolls and moldings, while English design exhibits more straight, rigid lines and weathered surfaces.
“There are fussier architectural elements and motifs in French design than in English design,” says Ceely. “There are many more materials involved, whereas the English style is simpler.”
French country decor is unique in that it employs a blend of common farm animals and elegant, quaint birds. You’re also more likely to spot formal tapestries in a French country kitchen than in an English country kitchen.
English Country Kitchen
- Rustic, lived-in furniture
- Chintz florals
- Decor depicting hunting scenes
While the French country kitchen embraces elegance, the English country kitchen celebrates a lived-in atmosphere.
“The tone of the English country home really reflects years of entertaining and enjoying life,” says Seely. “It’s really warm and cozy. There might be scuff marks on the furniture, but it doesn’t matter because it’s part of the character.”
English country style celebrates the children, animals, and friends that bring personality to the countryside life. In the South Carolina home above, designed by Ceely in the English country style, the tiles were customized to illustrate the owners with their dogs and horses.
Rather than organized florals or frilly toile fabrics, English country patterns tend to depict foliage that’s less groomed, such as wildflowers and chintz florals.
The casual English style employs straightforward hues and natural colors.
“English country style uses deep tones, but it may be, say, a truer red than that used in French style kitchen,” says Ceely. “Natural browns are also characteristic of English country design.”
While French country décor usually involves farm animals and small birds, English wall décor typically includes hunting scenes with dogs and horses. It also showcases botanical prints and nature prints.
Dark wood floors with wide boards are usually seen in both styles.