French Provincial FURNITURE............. ..... Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

French Provincial / French Provincial Revival architectural styles
AKA French Country Style

On this page:

French Provincial 17th- and 18th-century

A style of architecture or furniture characteristic of the provinces in 17th- and 18th-century France.

A French-style formal, 1l/2- to 21/2-story house that is perfectly balanced with a high, steep hip roof and curve-headed upper windows that break through the cornice (through-the-cornice dormer).

Principal features:

Modeled after country manors in the French provinces, these brick or stucco homes are stately and formal. They have steep hipped roofs and a square, symmetrical shape with windows balanced on each side of the entrance. The tall second story windows add to the sense of height.

"The style we refer to as French country was inspired by the elaborate décor found in the homes of the French aristocrats. To give the country homes of the upper-class a less formal feel, the traditional styles were softened, making the lines less rigid and the overall feel of the home more rustic. The overall result was a country house that was relaxed and inviting, while retaining many of the delicate features of the French influence. The French country style of decorating is a very eclectic mix of warm color and natural metals." - 4 House Lighting -- French Country Style Lighting  (2009)

See also: Château

Humanities Web: French Provincial

As a nation, our most notable cultural influence has always been English. This is especially true with all things architectural. However, two other European influences have also had a lesser impact upon that in which we live -- Spanish and French.

It's hard to say which has had the greater weight ... they're highly geographical of course ... maybe also because that influence may be about equal in each case. Spanish style architectural influences are quite obvious. French influences are much subtler. And although the deep South contains a few examples of French colonial architecture, most of what we know now elsewhere (other than Chateauesque and Beaux-Art) came as a result of the First World War when those who had served in France came home intimately aware of the subtle, warm, romantic aura these homes seem to possess. Some might prefer the name French Eclectic for this style; I prefer to call them French Provincial, because they are in fact, a largely rural styling more common as a typical French farm house than an urban dwelling.

Unlike some housing styles, French Provincial is dominated by its roof ... steeply pitched, hipped, with or without dormers (more often with). Beneath that there is an attachment to masonry -- brick, stone, even concrete and rubble -- makes no difference.

Three basic shapes prevail:

  • The symmetrical cube (one or two story)
  • The "L" shape with a round, corner tower housing the entry
  • The asymmetrical double cube (one slightly larger than the other).

Chimneys are tall, rectangular, and slender.

Windows are often fairly plain, seldom adorned with much beyond shutters.

Entries, too, are usually pretty simple, often arched, occasionally ornamented with side columns and some decorative masonry.

The key element in this style is simplicity and understatement. On the "low end" they can be quite unadorned, finished in white stucco. On the high end, in rare cases, the style may veer toward the Beaux-Art, and occasionally aspire toward becoming chateaux. Those influenced by the architecture of Brittany and Normandy (North-western French provinces) may have a Tudor look as well.

In this country, the style came sandwiched between the wars as we searched diligently for a truly "American" housing style ironically by imitating our European cousins.

French Provincial Revival - 1920s, 1960s


  • Rectangular; L-shaped with entrance turret; sometimes with arched entry.

  • High-pitched roof, often eccentrically so.

  • Stucco, wood, clinker brick and boulders are combined to form strange chimneys; often fake stone facing around windows and entrances.

  • Small paned windows with leaded diamond panes are common; massive doors.

Examples in Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement © 2009 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| ..

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.