French country style is defined more by a feel than specific design features. Airy and welcoming, rustic and comfortable without being ostentatious, rooms created with this sensibility simply “feel” right, with careful attention to 18th century detail less important than the home’s atmosphere, form and function. Even thrift shop or “shabby-chic” pieces can look right at home in a French country living room.
That being said, there are certainly defining characteristics of French country sofas. Solid, lighter-colored wood frames are common; the wood is more likely to have a natural or distressed finish rather than a glossy one. Of course, natural wood is the most desirable and authentic choice – as well as the most expensive. Many reproductions, though, are manufactured using MDF or similar materials and are a budget-friendly option.
Whitewashed wood was popular during the period and remains a staple of French country furniture, including couches. You may also find some rustic sofas designed in the country style for sale today will feature a darker wood. These sofas make up for their lack of authenticity by providing a beautiful counterpoint to the muted light tones traditionally used in French rustic décor.
A French country sofa will commonly feature scallops or soft curves on the arms and the back of the couch, which may crafted in a highback or wingback shape. Legs are usually cabriole-style, curved outward at the feet and inward where they attach to the frame. Sedate and detailed carvings are a regular feature on the legs and frame base, often in flower patterns.
Full upholstery for furnishings had just become popular in the 1700s so French country sofas will be completely upholstered. In keeping with the light and sophisticated approach of the style, expect to see luxurious fabrics like linen (or more recent cotton/linen blends) used for cushions and side/back upholstery. They are likely to be display rustic motifs like toile, with scenes featuring farm animals, birds, flowers or discrete geometric patterns, in muted colors or shades of white, cream or beige.