With the aid of architect Linda MacArthur and designer Laura Walker, Atlanta homeowners saw the potential of turning a red brick Georgian two-story into the country French home of their dreams.
Changing the facade from Georgian to French required hiding the red brick beneath a top coat of stucco. The center element was changed to a half-round, and arches were added to windows and the custom double door for a European look. Long pale blue shutters and elegant patinated light fixtures dot the stucco as French accents.
The entryway received continental flavor with a wrought-iron staircase railing hand-forged by a local artisan. The distinctive reproduction chandelier and arched doorways create a cozy country French feel. Furnishings here and throughout the house, many 19th-century French antiques, have been collected by the owner through the years.
The homeowners and designer were equally committed to getting details right and heavily researched French decorative arts and architecture. They wanted a look that was comfortable, yet sophisticated.
Thus, a rare 18th-century French cartoon--a prototype painting for the tapestry--graces the entry, covering the wall with an almost architectural presence. An antique French bench provides comfortable seating.
New arched windows in the living room add European ambience, which is underscored by shutters from a local antiques shop, a French sconce, coffee table, and antique armoire.
New French doors, stained dark for authenticity, open a previously solid wall in the dining room to the screen porch.
An 18th-century French table dresses the dining room, and the 17th-century Italian chairs accompany it.
Renovating in the true country French sense includes a strong indoor/outdoor link. The new screen porch, for instance, includes French door access from the kitchen and dining room. Old stone salvaged from Europe and a mantel made using 150-year-old beams from a home in Rhode Island combine to create the porch's focal point fireplace. A sisal rug and wicker furnishings make it cozy.
The homeowners opted to design the kitchen like a big, open Provencal kitchen. Instead of having a breakfast room, they put the table out in the middle of the room. Like most other pieces in the house, both the table and chairs are 18th-century country French.
Rustic ceiling beams lend rugged character to the renovated space. During the homeowners' research, they found that the beams in France have a real structural purpose, so French houses have many of them. They chose to space the ceiling beams close together to reflect their findings.
The use of one intense color in an otherwise neutral kitchen is a hallmark of French design. For the island, homeowners chose a Frenchy apple green as the room's punch of color, then roughed it up a bit to indicate wear from age. Then it was rubbed with gold to get exactly the look they wanted.
A dramatic apron-front sink in slate and a vintage-style faucet provide style and practicality, while a sunny window with a whisper of a curtain provides light and a view to the outdoors.
The slate is a nice contrast against the creamy cabinets. The homeowners worked with a master cabinetmaker to get the kitchen cabinetry finished to the desired state of imperfection.
Ceiling beams were added to the existing family room to create a country French look. A limestone fireplace and slipcovered furniture add a cozy feel.
A wrought-iron balcony, stained French doors, and a timber-clad hipped ceiling infuse the new master bedroom with French character.
A flea-market-find mantel, salvaged from an old home in Tennessee, dresses up the master bedroom's prefabricated fireplace.
The striking hipped ceiling was lined with 1x4s.
The muted color palette continues into the master bath. A sparkly chandelier, fresh flowers, and an inviting chaise longue provide softness against the stone tile surfaces.
The main level consists of 1,987 square feet. A side-entry garage maximizes curb appeal. The screen porch connects to both the kitchen and dining rooms.
The upper level contains three bedrooms, two baths, a laundry room, and more within 2,181 square feet. The master bedroom features a fireplace and private balcony. Twin walk-in closets are located just off the master bath.
Country French style blends comfort and elegance in a way few others do. Here are the key architectural features:
Charming exterior design. Convey a classic look with stucco, stone, and/or brick siding, plus hipped or steep gable roofs, arched doors, and windows with shutters.
Warm architectural elements. Consider wrought-iron railings, light fixtures, and door hardware wherever possible. Choose plumbing fixtures in complementary finishes. Wood beams and traditional casement windows work well in many cases.
Rustic finishes. Get the quintessential look with floors of stone, stone-look ceramic tile, and wide-plank, rough-hewn wood. Cast-concrete or limestone mantles work well in the living room, as do wood or granite countertops and painted- or stained-wood cabinets in the kitchen.