French Country Kitchen Cabinets

Learn about the different options for French country kitchen cabinets and how they translate into an elegant and welcoming dream kitchen.


The French country kitchen serves up a warm, comfortable gathering place for family and friends. A color palette of blues, reds, greens and yellows echo nature, and walls and cabinets often feature a distressed, Old World look. Antique furniture, colorful fabrics and interesting textures (think hand-blown glass bottles and oversized baskets) add the perfect touches.

Photo by: Bill Massey

Bill Massey

French country design mimics the beauty and charm of rural France. French country kitchen cabinets use natural materials such as wood, as well as earth-toned color schemes for a comfortable environment that favors serious cooking.

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Form and Function

This kitchen was designed to accommodate an enthusiastic cook and entertainer who wanted a contemporary feel that would not be at odds with her colonial townhouse. To create this look, NVS Remodeling & Design used frameless Dura Supreme Cabinetry in maple, painting the perimeter units in a creamy white and the island in a surprising splash of yellow (Sherwin Williams Butterfield with Espresso glaze). "To maximize storage, we stacked the cabinets to the ceiling, and specified deep drawers and tall pantries," say the designers. "The open corner and ribbed glass doors prevent that wall-to-wall cabinetry look."

Young At Heart

"Creating a hip, young kitchen while respecting the architectural heritage of an old house can be a challenge," says designer Jason Ball. To meet the twin needs of this particular project, Ball chose cabinets in a traditional raised-panel style, but gave them a fresh look with a trendy color: Behr's Dark Granite, in a rich semi-gloss finish. Hidden storage features complete the clever design. Deep drawers under the range keep pots and pans handy; cabinets extend to the ceiling for maximum stow-away space; and a pullout on one side of the kitchen keeps dog food easily accessible.

Real Steel

For a client who owns a company that manufacturers steel scales, Hufft Projects designed cabinetry that would reflect his business and his life. "We used metal panels throughout the house," says the designer. "The kitchen cabinets are one example. The gunmetal cabinets are made from galvanized hot-rolled steel with a clear-coat finish over an MDF substrate. They have integrated edge pulls to maintain a clean, seamless appearance."

Classic Cottage Charm

For a homeowner with a deep love of gardening and a fondness for English cottage style, Wright-Ryan Millwork created custom cabinets of white pine finished with a specially mixed stain of brown and yellow hues. "Concealed storage was important in this highly functional space," say the cabinetmakers. "Flat panel cabinets have adjustable, roll-out shelving inside, and concealed European hinges and soft-close drawers." Decorative feet beneath the sink adds cottage flavor.

Light Effects

In this open-plan kitchen, a combination of glistening white lacquered upper units and a striated wood style below creates a tailored, contemporary look. "Storage and functionality were both key to the design, so we optimized storage space by continuing cabinets along the bottom and into the adjacent dining room," says the designer. Design by DKOR Interiors.

Summerhouse Sophistication

In this luxurious Hamptons-style kitchen, designer Jamie Herzlinger created an updated traditional look that's long on luxury. Acres of white marble top the dual islands, complementing the custom millwork's graphic interlocking diamonds, a motif repeated on the upper cabinets that line the long walls. Panels cover the built-in refrigerators, for a sleek, integrated look.

Contemporary Cabin Style

Set on a wooded waterfront property on Lake Superior, this contemporary cabin shows a close connection to its natural setting. Architect Nils Finne used eco-friendly materials throughout the design, including in the kitchen. "We used PLYBOO, an FSC-certified bamboo product, for the cabinets," he says. "The end panels are mahogany, as is the dining table."

European Elegance

Inspired by the homeowner's love of Old World design, Ron and Martha Wolford created a rich, traditional look with frameless, raised-panel cabinets painted steel blue and accented with a creamy glaze. Important extras include in-cabinet puck lighting, under-cabinet lighting, mirrored glass mullioned doors (not pictured), and marble countertops. For a cohesive look, "the kitchen's cream, gold, and blue palette flows into the family room and covered porch," say the builders.

Bright Idea

In this long, narrow house, Kariouk Associates Architects used walls of glass to usher in light and designed sleek custom cabinets in bold yellow to help to capture and reflect the sunshine. Walnut paneling and accent cabinets offer a warm contrast to the splash of color, keeping the kitchen grounded within the open plan.

Fresh Outlook

For the heart-of-the home kitchen in this traditional Massachussetts home, designer Maqued Barsoum created custom cabinets with rich detailing: inset doors and drawers; deep, stepped crown moldings and a custom range hood canopy. The soft, sage finish lends softness to the look, and helps to highlight the island's dramatic Via Lattea granite.

In order to create the rustic and cozy charm of a French country kitchen, cabinets will have characteristic materials, colors and components to complete the look. Cabinetry tends to include ornate woodcarvings and furniture-like features such as decorative moldings and intricate arches. Most French country cabinets are made of wood and are left in natural warm tones showing distinctive wood graining. They can also be antiqued or distressed in order to portray a welcome, lived-in look. If the wood cabinets are painted, they tend to be in warm earth tones or cream-based colors to reflect colors seen in the rural French countryside.

In terms of cabinet components, hardware used in French country kitchens is usually ornate and made of antique brass, bronze or iron. Leaded glass or wire grille door panel inserts are additional touches that can give your cabinets that authentic French country feel. Rustic beadboard can also be added to cabinetry to give a more casual, lived-in feel.

Since many French country kitchen cabinets highlight unique finishes such as distressing or antiquing, homeowners may need to have the cabinets custom-made to gain that authentic look. However, given the modern popularity of French country kitchens, cabinet supply companies now carry stock and semi-stock cabinetry in the French country style, making this look more budget friendly.

Finally, to complete the French country look in a kitchen renovation, mixed metals can be incorporated to accentuate the wood cabinetry. Copper and bronze accents are commonly incorporated. Additionally, since the French are known for their culinary skills, cooking utensils and tools are often left on display in a French country kitchen, with copper pots hanging above the kitchen island or utensils displayed on countertops.

Regardless of your design budget, the French country look can be achieved in your kitchen by including warm colors, distressed wood and an emphasis on the reason why kitchens exist to begin with—to cook and feed family and friends. Bon appetit!

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