9 Ways to Channel the “French Chateau” Outdoor Aesthetic, Starting at $8

published Jul 30, 2023
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A morning light illuminating a terrace furniture with a view from the bedroom's door
Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

There’s a reason classic, Parisian-inspired interiors never go out of style — gilded mirrors, Louis chairs, and picture-frame molding instantly give any home an elegant, elevated feel. If you’re a fan of this kind of design, it’s likely you’ll also like its exterior equivalent, the “French chateau” aesthetic that’s currently popping up all over outdoor spaces everywhere.

Picture the French countryside, where you’d find fairytale-worthy chateaus and gardens that beg for a buzzy party or a lazy afternoon with a book. This look embodies the intangible je ne sais quoi that’s always chic and modern, yet forever timeless and elegant. Luckily, you can recreate that magical chateau vibe this summer for your own patio or balcony, no passport required, with the nine French-inspired finds below — starting at $8. 

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There’s nothing quite like enjoying an outdoor summer meal in the south of France, but you can easily recreate this vibe stateside. For the true chateau look, turn to durable wrought iron or steel metal patio sets (although wood furniture isn’t uncommon, either). For small spaces, try this bistro set in Provincial Blue from Amazon, or consider World Market’s eucalyptus wood style if you have room for bigger gatherings.

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Soften your furniture (inside or out) with cushions and pillows that will make you want to sink back and relax, like this pretty toile pattern, which comes from the French word for “linen cloth.” Today, this term is associated with designs depicting romantic, pastoral scenes.

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Cover your outdoor table with a tablecloth in French linen for a minimalist style. Or, try a traditional Provençal pattern in blue and yellow, featuring motifs like lemons, sunflowers, lavender, or olives.

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Up the ante on your outdoor soirées and set the table with stonewashed linen napkins. The amazing thing about linen (much like a fine wine!) is that it only improves with time — the more you use and wash it, the softer and more weathered it looks.

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If you’re serving something sparkling, set the mood with shallow coupe glasses, a shape often associated with French parties. This set from Anthropologie lets you choose from nine different colors, but the blush pink brings to mind crisp rosé fresh from a bucket of ice.

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Chateaus are famous for their structured gardens. Even if you can’t maintain a manicured topiary collection, incorporate bits of greenery into your outdoor space on a smaller scale. Look for pots and planters made of natural elements like terracotta or clay. A common shape in France is the urn planter, defined by the fluted pedestal base and flora that waterfalls down the side.

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Stay cool in style with a design-forward patio umbrella, specifically styled with fluted, fringed, or ruffled edges for more of a vacation-worthy statement piece.

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You’ll often find chateau gardens dotted with statues, but antique and concrete replicas can be expensive. This affordable fleur-de-lis statue from Amazon looks the part and pays tribute to the iconic lily shape, a symbol on France’s traditional coat of arms.

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If you can’t book a flight to the French countryside this summer, do the next best thing — get lost in a book about France. This design explainer on the inimitable aesthetic will inspire your own chateau-inspired home.