English Country Style Guide
Famous the world over, English Country Style is a classic look that embodies the never-ending cultural charm of our noble and historically rich land. The English people have been indelibly attached to their rural, country roots, and this connection has created a brilliant interior design aesthetic.
In designing your home’s interiors, there are a number of ways to bring in accents and touches that give that true English country feel. From the one-of-a-kind door furniture inviting people into your home, to unique fabrics and stunning antiques, kitting out your home is a task you should enjoy and relish.
Here are some tips to inspire you:
The history and the look
For centuries there has been a romantic ideal of cottage life in England. Starting in earnest during the 18th century, amazing homes and cottages were being built on expansive country estates. In decorating these properties, wealthy homeowners chose to bring nature into their homes. The aristocratic English country style was born.
In the court of King George III, the design style grew to absolute prominence. Queen Charlotte decorated a country cottage in Kew Gardens following the new motif. Designed as a country retreat or the perfect place for a picnic, the home reflected England’s spirit at the time.
Because the English explorers had covered the globe, foreign trade brought new materials, design elements and goods. The use of new types of wood, new fabrics, and all sorts of exotic treasures dominated interior design. European, African and Asian products were sewn into this uniquely English expression of one’s high social standing.
Because many wealthy families had homes in the city as well, many unusual pieces found their way to their second homes in the country. Sometimes it was overflow, or considered too gaudy for the city, and so these bits and pieces started to make up the foundation for English country style.
Nowadays, English country decor can be either casual or slightly formal. As a main principle, it should feel relaxed. It should feel like a cherished home, not an unapproachable museum. Surfaces, furnishings, and accents should feel familiar and lived-in.
In essence, an English country home should be at peace with its surroundings. There shouldn’t be a hard, cold or sterile feeling. It should be a home that is designed to be lived in and enjoyed by its inhabitants and guests.
How to bring the English countryside into your home
When deciding what colours to bring into your design, think about warm, natural colours. A mixture of cottage gardens and thick woodlands, you can use soft yellows and deep greens. Other colours to consider are golds, sage and lilac, and dusky pinks. With some opportunities to be bold, add some richer accents like cocoa, plum, and indigo.
English country design and furnishings should highlight the natural power and beauty of wood. Non-upholstered furniture is often walnut or mahogany, but don’t be afraid of mixing. A highlight of the style is that feeling of excess furniture passed from city to country, and passed from generation to generation. Not everything should match. Don't be afraid to mix various types of wood in a single room.
This design style is perfect for collectors. Those books, framed art, knickknacks and antiques are all perfect accents for your country home. Welsh dressers and bookshelves are furniture mainstays. You can also use a fantastic array of lighting fixtures to create warmth and ambience. Table and floor lamps, wall sconces, and chandeliers create that vintage lighting feel.
A hallmark of this interior style is feminine fabrics. Chintz is the signature fabric of English country style, and it should be used liberally throughout your home. Many designers use a variety of fabrics – although it is acceptable to repeat the same pattern in draperies, bed linens, canopies, upholstery, and sofa and chair pillows. Some of the most fitting patterns and prints are floral prints, linens, toile, and damask. The best part about this design style is that it is very difficult to overdo it. Ruffles, skirts and throws are all accepted ways to use fabric.
Canine, equestrian and hunting-style motifs are all integral parts of the English country. The traditional exploits of ladies and gentlemen on horseback, surrounded by hounds on the hunt are common visages. Using these images can help complete your country feel.
Main Image Credit: Nick (flickr.com)