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French country house plan – how to do it right and how to fuck it up

French Country is a popular home design style these days, both exterior and interior. This article discusses the design style of the French country house on the exterior.


Do you think the French country, or the French country effected, is a house design style? We said, “Not exactly”.

French Country is a range of home design styles –

1. From a former French farm to not quite a French embassy

2. Residential design styles including, but not limited to Rustic French, Rural French, Provincial French, Eclectic French, Chateau (French version of the English Manor House) and the namesake French Country

3. Between the Cajun style and the Louisiana plantation style

4. From the period in bracketed America approximately through WWI and WWII

Comment: There is a sort of stylistic kinship with other styles of house which are carelessly (and wrongly) considered as singular and not as a whole. For example, American Victorian is a / k / a (Victorian, in each case) 2nd Empire, Gothic, Italianate, Queen Anne, Folk, Stick, Shingle, and Richardsonian (Roman). Or for example, Southern Colonial ranges from Warburton House (1680) in James City County, VA or Christ’s Cross (a / k / a Cris Cross) (circa 1690) in New Kent County, VA and simpler, until ‘at Bacon’s Castle (1650) in County Surry, VA and Stratford Hall (1725) in Stratford, VA [noting that other examples abound either standing, or artistically captured earlier-on or reproduced, the author having chosen these for their geographical and temporal proximity, Post-Medieval English roots, and breadth of character].

You will find many publications on French Country on Amazon.com and in your local bookstore. Namely, along with a plethora of other design-focused books, a while back we ordered Provencal Inspiration: Living The French Country Spirit by Home Planners, and immediately received a notice that Amazon was out of stock. . French Country is back in style. As another, more recent example, our newly completed custom house plans in a French country style for a property in Asheville, NC, will be offered later this year at $ 4 million and up. [and the facades really do have a rural sense to them].

The French country style reminds us more than most of the Craftsman style – several roof slopes; windows of different sizes and heights; large overhangs and soffits; knee pads and other exposures of the building structure; gears facing forward; a mixture of gable, cut gable, shed and hipped roofs; natural materials; exterior of masonry, in particular stone; a mixture of top coatings; restraint in exterior accessories and ornaments. The French country style can be comfortable and inviting in its more relaxed presentations.

However, the design of the French country house departs from the Arts & Crafts movement in several respects: sheer and steeply pitched roofs at locations well above Craftsman; a refinement in the exterior fittings in particular in the rakes; a euphemism for the observable structure; gutter systems sometimes with bellows copper appointments; curved rooflines to accommodate steep slopes, larger windows, non-drilled ceilings and interior walls; wide soffits; curved arches and dormers, elaborate ironwork; balconies; turrets; Classic columns; embossed masonry accessories, interest in symmetry, etc. Simplicity and elegance.

There are ways to botch the design of French country houses, for example, keeping rooflines at one step to ensure consistent soffit depth and single-level eaves – in the name of cheap, easy and stylistically insensitive; apply Corinthian columns instead of, say, Tuscan, or flute Tuscan columns; to confuse the French style with English, to unbalance vertical and horizontal to favor the horizontal; no mullioned grouped windows, no real French casement windows; use plastic shutters, S-dog shutters, do not apply real French doors, coat the roof with asphalt shingles, insist on wide facade and frieze boards, etc.

And there are ways to develop French country house plans using – contemporary technologies, among which, for example, profitable cultured stone, particularly in his fieldstone depictions – perhaps by Owens Corning; and using the art, for example, half-round copper gutter systems from AB Raingutters, Inc., Classic Gutter Systems, LLC, gas or electric light fixtures from Charleston Lighting Company, or aluminum railing forged from Southeaster Architectural Metals, the garage doors of the Carriage House Door Company, etc.

The French country style encourages the application of design principles of excellent residential design, such as Creating a NEW OLD HOUSE: The Character of Yesterday for the House of Today, The Taunton Press, 2003, and Jacobson, Silverstein and Winslow’s Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Sustainable Design, The Taunton Press, orig. 1941, reprint 2002; and, separately, sacred geometry. Here again, you can accept and succeed or ignore and fail in the design effort.

Take, for example, the overlay and other finish coating arrangement, especially in steeply pitched gable ends. In the realm of age reported or suggested by Versaci, it’s the savvy designer specifying allegedly older and heavier materials – fieldstone and the like – from grade up to, say, L1, then a material lighter higher. Such an arrangement and layering would be particularly consistent with more sloping roof gable ends which would be very unlikely originally to be 2 storeys below steep and difficult to support roof slopes. In other words, L2 should and would appear to be of a more recent vintage than L1, and presenting an age history without such attention to detail is sending the gift horse.

Finally, in the vernacular of Patterns of Home, once again for example, the French country style readily lends itself to the creation of a courtyard, or “Creating Rooms, Outside”, and to a sleeping space demonstrating the keystones. of the “Refuge and Outlook” design under a “Sheltering Roof,” particularly if the roof lines are low profile and trimmed more simply on L2 than on L1.

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