How to decorate in French country style

Learn from The Great Interior Design Challenge experts in this exclusive book extract

Learn from The Great Interior Design Challenge experts in this exclusive book extract

In the fourth episode of BBC Two's The Great Interior Design Challenge, 55-year-old aspiring designer Dee tried out a French country living style for her sitting room scheme. The room in question was the long, thin sitting room of a converted mill in south London belonging to Anna.

In an extract from the new book of the series by Katherine Sorrell, here is a guide to achieving the same look in your own home…


Pale, neutral colours on walls and floors, a pretty mix of fabrics and refurbished vintage furniture give this living room a breath of French air.

Anna wanted a comfortable room in a French-influenced style that was good for entertaining – her lack of seating meant that her large sofa often became a bit crowded. She had acquired a number of pieces of vintage furniture that she had not yet been able to restore and needed help to bring them back to life. She was keen to see some colour on the walls but favoured a neutral scheme rather than brights. She wanted to replace her stark lighting with floor or table lamps and, although the floor was in good condition, she thought a rug would soften the look.

  • The designer’s proposal incorporates Anna’s existing furniture within the new scheme for the room.

  • Anna's old leather armchair has been restored and recovered.
  • A soft, neutral rug has softened the wooden floor.

  • Rearranging the seating and adding table lamps either side of the sofa makes the room feel much more welcoming.
  • The two blinds over the balcony windows mean that the doors can be opened easily.
  • A variety of cushions and colour add comfort to Anna's large sofa.
  • A wall-mounted TV means that technology does not fight with the style of the room.

  • The designer has painted the table legs bright blue to add a splash of colour; the distressed chairs add an element of shabby chic to the elegant room.
  • A shelving unit on the back wall gives a place for Anna to display her colourful glassware. 

  • Ornaments and artwork bring in a rainbow of colour.


‘There’s a beautiful look here where there wasn’t one before. But I’m getting south of France rather than Parisian chic.’

This is an extract from The Great Interior Design Challenge by Katherine Sorrell (Pavilion, £20). Photography by Nicky Brewin and Holly Jolliffe











March issue, out today!
previous feature article
Birmingham Antiques & Vintage Bazaar, The Custard Factory, Birmingham
next feature article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here