The Top Five Elements of French Country Bedding

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While most rooms in a French country home are decorated in bright and cheerful colors and patterns, a French country bedroom is meant to be a quiet and serene escape from the world. Therefore, French country bedding is most often done in a color palette of soft neutrals and tea stained colors found in the adjoining garden. Here are the top five decorating elements of a French country bedroom.

  1. Colors. As we mentioned above, bright primary colors found in the surrounding French countryside often come to mind when you think of French country decorating. But in the bedroom, vibrant red, green and blue are replaced with a neutral palette of comforting beiges and pinks, soft gray and sage green. The outside gardens are often a focal point of the bedroom and used as decorating inspiration.
  2. Pattern. While public rooms in a French country home feature cheerful patterns such as toile, gingham, stripes and even rooster and folk art motifs; pretty tea stained floral fabrics and old quilt patterns are used in the bedroom. A subtle monogram may appear on a pillow or lovely embroidery is added to sheets, pillowcases, and accent pillows. An aged toile might be used at the windows or on upholstered items such as a small club chair and ottoman or a bench placed at the foot of the bed. If you want to use gingham or stripe be sure to choose softer shades of yellow, green and blue in order to maintain the serenity that is so important in French country bedrooms.
  3. Fabrics. Linen is the preferred fabric for bedding in a French country home and vintage linen that has softened and yellowed with age is a favorite. Also, high thread count cotton is used for sheets and pillowcases and blankets are made of natural fibers for the ultimate in comfort. Quilts are used in place of a comforter or duvet for warmth and can be heirloom or new. Smaller quilts can also be draped over a chair to hide worn upholstery or as a covering on a bedside table. Lace is always popular in a French country bedroom and can be used as window treatments, bed skirts or as trim on accent pillows and shams. Just keep in mind that fabrics are subtle in pattern and soft and light in color.
  4. Bedding. When making the bed, a bottom and top sheet (usually white in color) are the first layers followed by a thin blanket that is covered with another top sheet and a quilt or coverlet is added for additional warmth. This final layer provides the only color in the bedding. Occasionally, an embroidered pattern might be found on the ends of the pillowcases, the hem of the top sheet or along the border of a standard or euro sham.
  5. Pillows. French country bedding almost always includes a bolster pillow. This can be a long bolster that is placed at the top of the bed along the headboard or smaller sizes that are used as accent pillows. (A bolster is a long, tubular-shaped pillow that comes in varying diameters). A selection of pillows is placed in front of standard or euro shams in a mix of soft fabric patterns for additional color in the room.
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There are multiple sources for all of these fabric and bedding items that include:

  • Antique fairs for vintage lace and fabric as well as heirloom quilts
  • Flea markets for fabric and lace scraps, worn quilt pieces, etc.
  • Online sources such as Ballard Designs for vintage looking linen, muslin and burlap pieces commonly used in French country bedrooms
  • Garage and estate sales can also be a good source for items such as old quilts; lace clothing and drapery panels that can be turned into accent pillows or bedding trim as well as vintage fabric pieces that have mellowed in color over the years.

You will want to avoid duvets and over-stuffed comforters in a French country bedroom as well as fancy window coverings and garish colors. Soft, romantic and restful colors, fabrics and patterns used in your French country bedding are the keys to creating the perfect retreat.