Good Bones: The French Country
As an architect, I am passionate about different housing styles and analyzing what makes them unique. Therefore, every few weeks, I’ll post about a different style and share the details that make it distinctive. Hope you’ll enjoy our very own “parade of homes.”
This is by far my favorite style. It brings back memories of my summer in Paris while I was a student of architecture. This post will explore some of the key features of this elegant, seductive home structure.
Windows are one of the most critical aspects to the French Country home. My favorite combination is a three-foot by six-foot window with a two-over-two mutton window pattern. The single vertical mullion in the window further reinforces the tall proportion of the style. I like an arch on top of the window – with the window itself or just the trim. To further enhance the verticality of the windows, I add trim to the top and bottom of the window and omit the side trim.
This is an elegant style that embraces asymmetry, like a dress that provocatively exposes one shoulder: elegant, graceful, and maybe just a little sexy.
Roofs on these homes are primarily steeply pitched hips. Try a dual pitch roof like 6/12 front to back and 8/12 side to side to give you the look of a steeply pitched roof more affordably. 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, but never all three. Be careful when combining materials like brick and stone; it’s easy to go very wrong here. I recommend letting one material take the lead and place the other in a supporting role. In other words, pick one material that is quiet and let the other material be more dominate. Picking two busy or loud patterns is like sitting on an airplane between two loud passengers who are both talking on their cell phones at the same time. You end up not understanding either one – plus you end up with a headache.
Also try to avoid the opposite: where two materials are too close together in color or texture. While the result of this combination is less disastrous, it’s what I call a “why bother.”
This style can support both warm and cool body tones, but not at the same time. In markets where stucco is not usually seen, try a light-colored brick or a painted brick. Board and batten siding combined with stone is also a nice look. The verticality of the siding reinforces the proportions of the style. I like to start with the masonry material and build my colors around those, since there are fewer variations in stone versus siding color. Check out Cut Cobblestone Winfield with Georgetown Blue shutters for cool tones or Cut Cobblestone Autumn with Spanish Moss shutters for the warm tones.
So what personality is drawn to this style?
Homeowners who love the French Country house style are likely drawn to the elegance and the flair of the style; are proud of his or her “inner fashion model” and not afraid to show it.