Oyster Pearl custom home

Achieving French provincial with brick, mortar and a little panache

As the name implies, a French provincial home—be it a cottage or chateau—derives its color palettes from the French countryside. Hues of blue, like the French sky and subtle earth tones of the forests blend to create a soft painterly effect that is both elegant and rustic.

White brick variations—with carefully chosen buff mortar—are perfect to help achieve a true French provincial look.

Mortar makes up about 20% of a brick wall's color! See our free design guide for tips on selecting just the right blend.

Home builder Leslie Gunter knows all about it. Her brick of choice is Pine Hall Brick Oyster Pearl. One of her recently completed projects is an excellent example of thoughtful color selection, from mortar to brick to shutters and trim. For design, Gunter worked with Garrell & Associates.

"We went for the lighter colors of the brick to coordinate with  offset of French shutters," said Gunter. "The shutters are painted with a custom blend from Benjamin Moore matched to a fabric. We wanted a fresh new look."

The overall effect is tall, spacious and secure, without being imposing. In fact, it's downright inviting. The earth tone colored (with a little gray) arched front doors work beautifully with the Oyster Pearl steps, all accented by wrought iron railings and a stately lantern light, welcoming friends to fancy dinner parties or kids' playdates.

The masonry work itself is masterful. Notice the English bond adding dimension to the home's facade with plenty of arches and gables. The mason for this project is Jose Sanchez.

Oyster Pearl is an oversized tumbled brick that's achieved by literally tumbling the brick in a large drum to give it some "aged perfection" that's timeless. Again, the mortar choice can't be emphasized enough. Take a close look at how it works with the white brick and draws out just the right tones. Gunter even used the brick as part of the landscaping in his solid retaining wall (below). By the way, notice in these photos how the light affects white brick. A home built with Oyster Pearl has a different character depending on the time of day or season.

"We get lots of good feedback for custom builds with Oyster Pearl," said Gunter.


Leslie Gunter of Gunter Custom Homes and Design, has had her design-build work featured in House Beautiful and Elle Decor and builds mostly brick homes. Were happy to have her go-to brick, with Oyster Pearl. If you like white brick, you might want to check out Chesapeake Pearl, too, as well as many others in our gallery.

For a quick primer on choosing French provincial colors for your home, here's a quick mini-lesson from Hunker.

See more photos on our Pinterest page. And, this home, or one like it, could be yours.

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