10 French Country Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

What cross your mind when you think about French country decorating?

If your reply is luxurious decor, perfect symmetry and a tidy home, you’ll be wrong.

That being said, everyone has its own interpretation of French country style and that’s totally fine.

The most important thing is to feel good at home, right?

But I know some of you really want to create an authentic French home, like the ones you may have visited in France.

And I’m here to help you.

I gathered here the 10 most common French Country decorating mistakes to avoid so you can finally feel like you’re in your favorite village in France.

Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the south of France

Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the south of France

By the way, if you’re eager to step inside these authentic French homes and glean valuable tips for emulating the look, I’ve got an exclusive invitation for you.

Join me on the ‘Authentic French Country Home Tours’!

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So, ready to know if you are making these common mistakes? Let’s see!

1. Using the wrong colors / too much colors

Boho farm and home

Have you any dark muted color or many shades like in the photos above? Then I guess you’ll have to sort your decor out and think about repainting some of your furniture and walls.

The French country style is all about neutrals that are subtle and soft shades.

2. Buying fake vintage or fake French

Always favor real vintage items. You’ll find authentic French ones here.

Fake vintage is often overrated and of poor quality.

Also, avoid clichés like the brand new « Café de Paris » sign or roosters statues.

paris-cafe-sign.jpg roosters-collection.jpg

3. Choosing the wrong fabrics

A. Carpet


I know that many of you have an unconditional love for carpet. Okay, that’s super comfortable.

But I say it frankly, this is ugly. Sorry…

All the French normally constituted got rid of their carpet a long time ago.

B. Velvet


I also often see velvet on cushions, sofas or armchairs. We don’t really use this fabric in our country houses either. It’s outdated (or you have to use it in a staggered way).

To sum up, the French country style hates thick and heavy fabrics (except wool which is welcome for plaids for example). Instead, choose fluid and rustic fabrics, such as cotton or linen. Here are the best French country linens to choose.

4. Believing that French Country = Old French chateau

Very often, the image that comes to mind when we talk about French style is the interior of a French castle (or chateau in French), while this one could almost not be part of the French country family because it’s very rococo and luxuriant.


The truth is that the decor in the old French chateaux, like on the photo above, no longer exists except in castles that welcome tourists or in museums. No one would want to live in a museum. At least, not me!

BUT don’t leave now.

If you have a fascination with French castles, I’ll give you the keys to decorate with the chateau style while avoiding missteps here.

5. Having a distorted image of French Country style

As we have just seen, it’s sometimes difficult to get an idea of what is French Country style, especially when you’ve never visited France.

This decorating style is inspired by old countryside home interiors of France. But it’s by no means a copy of these.


In the old days, there wasn’t much time or room for decoration. Each object had a real function and nothing was left to chance. They don’t really care about brightness of the rooms or the colors. They often had bigger fish to fry (or « d’autres chats à fouetter » in French).

The French country style is a modernized version adjusted to our current life. A mix of old and new. Old things found in flea markets or inherited (such as copper pots, old suitcases, candle holders…) enrolled with the comfort of our current lives.

wrong Decor hgtv home

Be also careful not to confuse it with old world, traditional or tuscan styles. They share similarities and that’s why it’s easy to confuse them.

6. Accumulating

In a French country decor, everything must play a role or be gorgeous.


A overcrowded interior won’t allow items and furniture to stand out. We see everything… and nothing at the same time.

Very often, less is more.

7. Choosing the wrong kind of furniture

The French really like to use furniture they have inherited or bought in flea markets / second hand stores.

For a French Country look, avoid furniture pieces that are brand new and of poor quality.

Some old furniture pieces have also become outdated (sometimes it’s enough to repaint or change the upholstery, sometimes not).

wrong chair
wrong table
wrong furniture
wrong armchair

While it’s true that the charm of French Country decor often lies in well-loved and inherited pieces, sometimes you need something new that still aligns with this classic style.

For those times, I gathered for you 21+ Budget-Friendly French Country Sofas where quality meets affordability, ensuring you avoid the common mistake of choosing brand new, poor-quality pieces.

8. Keeping dark furniture

French country style LOVES brightness.

But I know many of you have very dark wood furniture.


Is it your case? Then you’ll have to think about giving or repainting some of them.

9. Using the wrong patterns / Too much patterns

If I ask you what’s the most used pattern in a French country home, you tell me…

Nop, that’s not Toile de Jouy!

Toile is even one of the least used in France now (although it’s slowly coming back into fashion).

It’s an abundant pattern, that’s gorgeous, but that needs to be used with moderation.

too much toile de jouy fabric
too much toile de jouy fabric
too much toile de jouy fabric in dining room

So please, avoid this kind of decor. This is way too much.

10. Thinking that symmetry, centering and matching are the done things


In interior design, the symmetry, centering or matching of items is one of the easiest things.

But as we say in France, why make it simple when you can make it complicated?

The French are not big fans of everything tidy.

They love the eclecticism and the understated.

I created a quick and easy guide about how to style & arrange your home decor that you’ll also find in the French country decor guide.

So, are any of these mistakes sound familiar to you?

Don’t be embarrassed, It’s totally fine.

I like to believe that mistakes improve us. They’re guideposts in our learning and growth.

And if you’re here, that means you took the first step to make things better. Bravo!

Now, you’re not alone anymore. You can count on me to support you all along so that you finally get the French country home decor you always wanted.

I made a 70+ page tailored guide that will help you stop making these mistakes and create an authentic French look instead.

I wrote it while looking at real photos (not those of Pinterest) of real people living outside France. I realized that it wasn’t always easy to get a true idea of what French style really was.

Then, I knew it was time to share with you all my French country decorating secrets (who better for that than a native French woman, right?).

Ready to feel transported to France in your own home?

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9 thoughts on “10 French Country Decorating Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. Marie St John

    Dear Mathilde,
    I tried to order your e-book, however, i keep getting an error message! I’ve tried to re-input my information but it still wouldn’t let me purchase it! Please let me know what I could have done wrong??? mcstjohn16@gmail.com

  2. Marie St John

    It worked this time! I must have forgotten to do something important. Merci!

  3. Dear Mathilde,

    Your discussion of the differences between French Country and Chateau styles missed the most important way of understanding them – CLASS. French Country was how peasants lived, with useful things, or things they used every day, on the shelves, or hung on the walls.
    You’re missing a style in between – bourgeois – the factory owners, business owners, etc. The upper middle class.
    Chateaux belonged to the aristocracy, there was specifically nothing useful on display. They could dedicate hectares surrounding the chateau – valuable farmland – to lawns and gardens that produced nothing, to show off how rich they were, and the interiors followed suit. It was all about impressing the friends visiting from Paris – to worm their way up the social ladde– and relatives, and to itimidate the peasants when they came to pay their tithes.

    1. Mathilde | Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you very much for your helpful comment, Bill. That makes sense!

  4. When I was starting to make my home’s decor over to French Country, I had a native French friend help me with some decisions. While living in the Upper Midwest of the U.S. makes it very difficult to find anything authentic (furniture, home goods, fabrics, etc.) I try my best to recreate the look. After reading this blog post, I’d say I got a pretty high score! (I used to have an interior decorating business and I love studying history so maybe that helped.)
    I LOVED your post. 🥰🤗

    1. Mathilde | Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you so much for your comment, I’m glad to know more about you and your home. And well done! Bravo ! 😄

  5. Pat Siefferman

    The best, concise, concrete info and examples of tips on French Country Design I have ever seen. THANK YOU !!

  6. I DO ME which is, I pick and chose colors, patterns, decor elements that all make me happy. I ended up with a maximalist, romantic, whimsical, elegant style using my fav soft teals, pinks and whites. Rewallpapered EVERY room in the French Normandy home, drap[ed velvet or lace over chairs and shades, tucked jeweled trinkets everywhere for the children to fond, added Mackenzie reindeer to all rooms because they make me smile. The piece do resistance is my teal mermaid tail backsplash which is heavenly with my swirled brown granite, wraparound almond cabinets, ceramic pulls in pink/gold/ivory, blush velvet stools/chairs and Anthro floral teal oversized sofa at big kitchen table. I like to switch pillows and quilts as the mood strikes. I get raves and entertain so much more now.

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