If you were to ask me what my favorite personal style would be, I might have to go with French Country. Bringing back memories of Paris one summer while I was a student in architecture, the French Country style has a romance that cannot be denied. Let's delve into the details.
Think of an elegant, graceful French fashion model: Tall, slender, confident. These proportions are the key to this style. I like to start with the windows: 3’ by 6’ window with a 2 over 2 mutton window pattern. The single vertical mullion in the window further reinforces the tall proportions of the style. I like an arch on top of the window – within the window itself or simply the trim. Trimming out the top and bottom of the window and omitting side trim further enhances those vertical proportions.
This is an elegant style that embraces asymmetry; like a dress that provocatively showcases one shoulder. Elegant, graceful and just a bit sexy.
Roofs are primarily steeply pitched hips. In many markets, as high as 10/12 or 12/12. In low roof pitch markets, 7/12 can be considered steep. Builders looking to achieve a steep-pitched look more affordably can try a dual-pitch roof - try 6/12 front to back and 8/12 side to side. Remember to punctuate the hip roofs with a well-placed gable roof, especially at the entry. Or, if you’re doing all hips, try raising a hip roof over the entry to create roof bounce.
Exterior materials vary from stucco, brick, or stone – either by themselves or together – but I caution against using all three in one house. In markets where stucco is not used, consider a light colored or painted brick. Board and batten siding combined with stone is also a nice look. The vertical orientation of the siding reinforces the proportions of the style.
Be careful when combining brick and stone, as it is easy to go very wrong here. You can read more about tips and what to avoid in another blog here.
The style can support both warm and cool body tones, though not at the same time. I like to start with the masonry material and build my colors around those since their colors are more restricted than paint or siding. Remember, if you’re not using two materials, add animation with two paint tones.
So – who is drawn to this style? Someone who’s not afraid of their “inner fashion model”. Someone who loves the elegance and the flair of the style and isn’t afraid to show it! The French Country style can be a beautiful addition to just about any streetscape!