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Reminiscent of the houses that dotted the landscapes of rural France, French country style is one of the most popular architectural styles. The American version takes design elements from other styles, including English country and English Tudor style. This style first gained popularity in America after World War I. These are some of the basic architectural features you find in French country style houses.
When you see the exterior of a French country style house, you notice that is primarily a combination of stone masonry, stucco and brick, sometimes with exposed timber. Quoins, masonry blocks at the corners, and arches with decorative keystones above windows and doors are common. The curved walls of the exterior are emphasized by a turret, or round tower, on some examples of this style. There is no standard for symmetry or asymmetry on the front facade except for the entrance being placed in the center.
Doors And Windows
The doors and windows on a French country style house vary widely, but all have some basis in the original style found in southern France. The first thing you notice is the prominence of dormers, specifically barrel vault and eyebrow types. Windows are either bays or tall, narrow casements set in pairs. The casement windows are hung to open from the center, like the French doors that lead to ground level patios or second floor balconies.
The roof is based on a traditional hipped roof, but has other interesting design elements. Seeing the roof on a French country style house, you are first made aware of these changes by its steep pitch. There are also gables employed, particularly over the large bay windows. This creates an asymmetrical look with the roof line protruding at different heights and creating flared eaves.
The plan of a French country home is usually two stories and the layout is in a rectangular or L-shape with the turret placed at the intersection of the L. There is no set arrangement to the rooms, so you are free to employ the open spaces as you see fit. The walls are often well made of rough plaster or cement used instead of, or over, dry wall. Floors use natural stone or wood to emphasize the rustic nature of the design.
Natural materials and old world craftsmanship are the hallmarks of the French country style. You see the influence of the bucolic French countryside in many of the design elements. Though it has been Americanized with the addition of gables and Tudor elements on the exterior, you know that this style is firmly rooted in its French roots.