French Country Design

I thought I’d begin my reports on the progress of our French Villa Style home by starting with the exterior of the house. Typically, we do not get involved with the selection of exterior finishes, materials, doors, lighting, etc., but in this case we were asked to comment and it evolved into full participation – helping select the color of the tile roof, stucco, limestone and window trim. We began the process by looking at pictures of similar homes and their color schemed with our client and their contractor for ideas and inspiration.

Pretty front doors…


This home has a brick facade (Don’t you LOVE it?), but it’s good for looking at tonality of color and hue.


This one pushed it with the purple shutters and trim.


Earthy and serene.


This is close to the color scheme we selected.


Then it was on to the front doors, which are not yet finalized, but we’re close… Again, we looked at what seemed like thousands of pictures. I researched Louis XVI style and architecture. It seemed never ending. Yet, this is sooooo important. A front door is like a greeting card. It makes that all important first impression. Here are several examples.


We then looked at how various door styles might look from the street and as you approached the house.



We’ve ended up with a design that is similar to these doors.


Next, a tour of the preliminary foyer design.

Have a wonderful Holiday!

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I was so caught up in getting our last post up, I completely forgot to include the interior and exterior hardware we proposed for the project. We’re looking at both Baldwin and Emtek for interior hardware. Our preference is Baldwin with Emtek as a back up if budget becomes an issue.

We suggested the simpler profiles, such as the lever handle on the bottom right. They would look terrific with cremone bolts on the patio doors. Another option was a simple egg knob and rosette. The third possibility we discussed was a round knob. The bottom center one in Venetian Bronze is growing on me… I like how the face of the knob relates to the rosette on the lever handle just above it. The hinge style is peeking out at you in the upper left hand corner of the image.


We’re considering two possible directions for the entry door.

The Versaille from Baldwin.

Or something significantly more rugged in appearance from the Fleur de Lis Collection of Sun Valley Bronze. Their castings are exquisite – all bronze. They use two different base bronzes to achieve a wonderful variety of finishes. The samples I saw were gorgeous!!!



This is the one I am partial to…


The next step is to visit the hardware supplier, Needham Lock & Decorative Hardware, to make final selections for pricing.

Almost forgot the teaser… A glimpse of our French Country foyer design. The front door is on the left. The framed opening on the right leads to the family room. From this sketch, I learned that the door frames need to be much simpler to be consistent with the rest of the design vocabulary of the house.


Hope you all ahve a wonderful weekend!


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Sally and I met with the home owners of the new French Country Residence for which we are designing the interiors and their contractor on Saturday. It was a marathon meeting, lasting from 11 AM until almost 5 PM. A post on the kitchen design can be found here. (The kitchen continues to go thru incremental refinement which I will cover in a separate post.) The purpose of this meeting was to review and recap where we were on wood floor selections, review all the proposed crown molding, door jambs, wood base and panel trim in the house, fireplace mantels for the living room, family room and master bedroom, door hardware and tweaking the kitchen plan. (While we were there, we offered input on the exterior limestone and stucco colors, exterior window trim color and slate roof tile colors. Sally and I are rarely without comment when asked our opinion…)

Starting with wood floors, we presented several options from C&R Flooring. The first was a rift and quarter sawn character grade white oak floor sealed to look unfinished. I loved the floor – a perfect neutral palette upon which to design the rest of the house around.. The client did not like it at all…


The second sample from C&R, a HomerWood character grade white oak oak floor, was also rejected.


So… We moved on to several other samples prepared by Baba wood floors. The first was a fumed white oak with a cream colored fill to bring out the grain of the wood. The husband liked it. Wife, not so sure…


The wife liked the honey toned Baba sample on the left. Neither liked the dark filled sample on the right.


Unable to make a selection looking at such small samples, it was decided that a visit to the Carlisle Wide Plank Floors facility in New Hampshire might be useful. Meanwhile, I am researching installation photographs with Baba.

Our attention shifted to the ceilings and crown molding for the major spaces of the house  - the foyer with it’s 18 foot high ceilings, living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, library and master bed room. The foyer molding is 14″ x 14″ and looks terrific at 18 feet! We will be adding a little embellishment on the flat surfaces between the trim molding.


The living room and dining room are to be quite formal with an elaborate crown and a chair rail and panel molding on the walls. This sample was close, but needs refinement.


We looked at two master bed room samples. This was rejected because the embellishment was on the frieze. (Very left hand sample.) Fortunately,  we had prepared a second sample with the embellishment on the crown. (Second from right.) The second from the left will be the family room crown – simpler and more relaxed. We decided to hold off on the kitchen and library crown moldings until there design of the cabinetry in both rooms is more complete.

All the samples were assembled with White River profiles. We are now considering plaster for the above rooms. I am looking forward to our visit to Boston Ornament to consider their decorative plaster options and possibilities. We reviewed the panel molding, door jambs and wood base for the house, but I won’t bore you with all the details.


Our discussion then shifted to the focal points of three rooms, the fireplace mantels for the living room, family room and master bed room. We are considering two marble mantels from Chesney’s. (The drapery at these windows is going to be a challenge, as it will be in the master bed room.)

The family room’s contenders are limestone mantels from Francois & Co. and Chesney’s. (I have a funny feeling we may see a Francois hood over the range in the kitchen.) I think the family room could use boxed beams in the ceiling, don’t you?

The Master Bed Room’s mantel is a Francois & Co. mantel. Petite and gorgeous!!! The second mantel is one I designed, which wraps around the chimney box. Due to very limited space our option were few. I’m thrilled with the outcome! (Anyone interested in the wrap around mantel? It could be made of either wood or stone.) It’s hard to see,  but I changes the scale of the crown molding in the second sketch. The first was too heavy for the scale of the room.

The kitchen was the next topic and I will save reporting on that animated discussion for another post.

While we were there, the contractor presented several options for materials and colors for shingles/slate, stucco, limestone and window trim. We of course weighed in on the subject by pulling up images of several gorgeous French homes from a previous blog post, which you can see here and an example can be seen below.

I’m loving the doors and delicate Juliette wrought iron in the second floor windows.

(Source unknown)

All in all, a very productive meeting. Sally’s next immediate task is plumbing fixtures (among many things on this project…), while I refine the design of the foyer and foyer stair, rework the kitchen, and prepare concept sketches for the master  bath and library. Never a dull moment…

Have a wonderful week!



To visit our website, click here.

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To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

If you would like our assistance on your design project, contact us here.