Home Decor

Peek Inside a French Country Kitchen Inspired by the Seasons

Cookbook author Héloïse Brion's kitchen is the heart of her Normandy home—it's also where both food and decor follow the seasons.

October 17, 2020
Photo by Christophe Roué

Kitchens have always been my favorite room in a home. I grew up in the US, but my oldest childhood memories take me back to summer vacations spent in our family’s mountain farmhouse tucked away in the Pyrenees. The house, especially at mealtime, was always filled with people—neighbors, friends from nearby villages, and lost hikers. There were often as many as 20 people gathered around the table, sharing locally-sourced ingredients that we’d cook over an open wood fire. Everyone took part in the meal, whether by suggesting a recipe, setting the table, or foraging wild flowers and branches to decorate the space.

Memories from those summer days have made me who I am today—they are also why our kitchen is the heart of our family life today.

Our home in Normandy was built in 1895. It is Anglo-Norman in style, which we celebrated by giving it what we thought was a very British name—Miss Maggie. When we bought the home in 2015, we knew the most important space to renovate was the kitchen, but in a way that would always respect the home’s age and history.

The kitchen, when we found it, had been divided into smaller spaces and clearly not been designed by someone who loved to cook. In contrast, so much happens in our kitchen—far more than simply cooking and sharing a meal. Our long wooden kitchen farm table, for instance, is the heart and soul of our home. It’s where we gather with friends and share our farmers' market finds each weekend; where my husband and I settle down at the end of a long day for a quiet aperitif; and where my two boys, Gabin and Balthazar, love to draw and paint, do their homework, and play board games.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“By grounding it all with those muted green cabinets, you make it easy to introduce nature-based items in your seasonal decor and take the look either soft or bold.”
— Kim S.

Once we opened up the space, the question of what color we should paint our cabinets was next. We fell in love with five different hues that fit in with the natural environment around us and the house itself. We all took turns testing paint samples on panels that we moved around the room to see how light would transform them through the day—and even as weather changed. Today, every meal is set against that backdrop of color, light, and shadow that we helped create as a family.

Photo by Miss Maggie’s Kitchen: Relaxed French Entertaining (Flammarion, 2020)

I may be a recipe developer, but to me the decor of the kitchen and the setting of the meal are just as important as the food on our plates—what’s on a plate counts, but the table and the room are just as important because they set the scene and mood.

Which is why I love surprising my family and friends with little seasonal tweaks to our home’s decor. And nowhere is this more crucial than in the kitchen, where we live most of our daily lives. It fills my heart with joy to watch Gabin and Balthazar’s eyes widen as they come home to discover a new setting, or when they volunteer to take part in dreaming up a new tablescape together.

The shifting of seasons is a big source of inspiration to me, and often signals the need for a change. Tweaking your decor doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either; you can do wonders with what you have on hand, what you find in nature, or at the farmers’ market. Using flowers and produce mixed in with repurposed objects is easy and affordable. Candlelight also always seems to find its way onto or around our table—I find that it softens the environment and creates an extra-cozy vibe to the meal.

“Shopping” for pieces in your own home is the best place to begin. I love moving things around: placing a mirror in the kitchen that was in a bedroom, finding a new spot to highlight a sculpture, a stack of books, or even a painting. Once you get into that groove, you’ll find it’s easy to improvise—my sons love bringing me treasures they find on the beach, and in the woods near us. For me, it’s these decor swaps in the kitchen that then set the tone for the rest of the house. So, once the kitchen has a new decorative theme, I add echoes of it throughout. It’s a simple way to give us the exciting sense that we are living in a brand new home, every few months.

Here are some ways I dress up my kitchen for the seasons:

Fall >> Winter

This fall, I turned empty beer bottles into vases, and cut gingham ribbon and a bandana to dress them up, along with flowers from the garden. I combined these with mini white pumpkins, as well as candles that really set the tone for shorter and cozier days by the fire.

I went shopping in my own home for this early winter arrangement from last year, which would work anywhere in the house—and not just in the kitchen! Disparate items can work really well when grouped together, such as this drawing with a vintage disco ball, a mirror from a guest bedroom, and a silver champagne bucket used as a vase.

Spring >> Summer

For spring, I love playing around with the flowers and branches I find in the garden, and add in a few light objects. Here, I used a vintage porcelain hen as the central piece. In the summer, I tend to go for a beachier feel, paired with seasonal produce, and bric-a-brac I have at home.

How do you like to decorate your kitchen for the seasons. Tell us in the comments below.

Heloise Brion is the author of Miss Maggie’s Kitchen: Relaxed French Entertaining (Flammarion, 2020). Credit for all photos: Christophe Roué.

From Miss Maggie's Kitchen:

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Stephanie
  • M
  • Steven Hamilton
    Steven Hamilton
  • lynne conway
    lynne conway
  • Kim Snader
    Kim Snader
Héloïse Brion

Written by: Héloïse Brion


Stephanie December 23, 2022
So what make is the stove prominently featured here but I don’t see any reference. Maybe I missed it?
M October 23, 2020
It's very beautiful and inviting, but the fire hazards are concerning, and I'm curious how maintain and protect your objects above a stove with no ventilation.
Héloïse B. October 23, 2020
We never leave the room unattended when candles are lit! 😉 There are three big windows in the kitchen so we have not needed the ventilation above the stove. All of the objects, paintings etc have been fine.
M October 26, 2020
The candles weren't concerning, but the holly falling within inches of the gas stove and basket of flowers gave pause.
Steven H. October 19, 2020
Wondering what brand of stovetop and ovens that is in the photo? We are renovating a barn in SW France and looking for a good brand of gas stovetop and ovens. We have not found separate double stacked ovens in FRance online yet like we have in USA.
Libby October 19, 2020
The stove is called Lacanche Côte d’Or. only sold in France. My family which is based in Boston, MA has one. It’s 7 burners with 2 ovens. One Of the ovens is electric and the other is gas. It also has a spout for water.
Héloïse B. October 23, 2020
This one is a Lacanche and the model is Cluny. I love cooking with gas stove tops but the ovens are electric (Lacanche suggested it this way and I think it is the best solution). If you can have it a bit bigger, go for it as you can't fit very big dishes in these two ovens😉 I hope you are enjoying renovating your home, it's something I love to do!
lynne C. October 18, 2020
Where have you been all my life! I'm following your wonderfulness from now on.
Kim S. October 17, 2020
Glorious! By grounding it all with those muted green cabinets, you make it easy to introduce nature-based items in your seasonal decor and take the look either soft or bold.
Héloïse B. October 23, 2020
Merci beaucoup !! Exactly! I love creating different moods depending on the season or even my mood or inspiration!
ANNE C. October 17, 2020
Heloise, Cherie! I love your kitchen and of course it's warm and wonderful, just like you! I miss you and send you love. Anne
Héloïse B. October 23, 2020
Oh Anne!! I miss you tons!! I hope we will be able to see each other either in Normandy or in Ojai!! ♥️ Baisers
Arati M. October 17, 2020
Héloïse, your kitchen makes me want to visit—and never leave. Thank you for sharing. ❤️
Héloïse B. October 23, 2020
Merci ! Let me know when you come to Normandy!! ♥️