If you share my love of the English country house decorating style and want to get the look in your own home, this is the post for you. Between the spectacular royal wedding and my love of all things Jane Austen, I can’t get enough of the cozy, lived-in look you see in the great estates of England. Below, I’m sharing my secrets on getting the English country house look in your own abode. (Photo: Lucas Allen)
Paint your walls with Farrow & Ball
These fine English paints are great quality and have some of the loveliest shades. Above is a charming space painted in Farrow and Ball’s Breakfast Room Green. Note the slipcovered sofa (very English) in Colefax & Fowler’s bowood print complete with a ruffled skirt. Yes, please! (Photo: Jake Curtis for House & Garden)
Cover your floors in wall to wall sisal
Or if you’re renting, simply treat yourself to a large natural fiber rug or two (Overstock has great affordable options). Above, in Veere Grenney‘s country retreat, sisal can be seen wrapped around the fireplace. I’m also crushing on those pale pink walls. I can’t wait for his book to come out.
Invest in a timeless English Roll Arm Sofa.
While we can’t all afford the dream George Smith design, there are excellent English roll-arm sofas available elsewhere. I love the Miramar sofa from Serena & Lily, the Carlisle sofa from Pottery Barn, and the Bedford sofa from Williams-Sonoma. Above, a patterned sofa in the English country home of author Plum Sykes. I also adore the room’s William Morris “Willow Boughs” wallpaper—it truly brings the outdoors in. (Photo: François Halard for Vogue)
A shot of the full room with its handsome stone fireplace and rustic exposed beams—so English, so cozy! (Photo: François Halard for Vogue)
Layer vintage rugs on top of your sisal
I’m a big fan of the layered rug look and so are the English. Above, British architect and interior designer Ben Pentreath has layered a vintage rug over his wall to wall sisal. The photo was snapped in Pentreath’s dreamy Dorset country house. (Photo: Paul Massey for House & Garden)
Here is another example of layered rugs in a bedroom by Veere Grenney. Note the gorgeous curtains in Lisa Fine’s “Mughal Flower” textile. (Photo: David Oliver for House & Garden)
Accessorize with plaid throws
Instantly up your cozy factor with plaid throw blankets. They’ll keep you warm in the winter and help disguise tired and worn upholstery. In Rita Konig‘s old New York apartment the decorator honored her English roots with a plaid throw at the foot of her bed.
Rita used the same throw in her earlier New York apartment as well.
One more shot of Rita’s wonderful space–remember when it was published by the original Domino? It’s one of my all-time favorite bedrooms.
Swap out your coffee table for a large ottoman
It would seem nearly every English home I admire has a fabulous oversized ottoman in lieu of a cocktail table. Cover the ottoman with stacks of books and a large tray so it can balance your cocktails. Above, in textile designer Penny Morrison‘s Welsh country home, a gorgeous antique suzani is draped over the ottoman. (Photo: Miguel Flores-Vianna for Elle Decor)
Jemma Kidd’s country home also has a large ottoman instead of a coffee table. All the upholstery makes for a soft, cozy interior. I also can’t help but covet her silk velvet ikat pillows.(Photo: Simon Upton for Elle Decor)
In Ben Pentreath’s sunny London flat a bright red ottoman with green greek key trim takes center stage. (Photo: Jake Curtis)
In textile dealer Susan Deliss‘ country home a large striped ottoman holds coffee table books in front of a George Smith sofa. (Photo: Paul Massey for House & Garden)
Consider a Cole & Son wallpaper
Rita Konig’s first London apartment was wonderfully English with Madras Violet wallpaper by British maker Cole & Son. The company’s archive patterns are English country house perfection.
More of Rita’s charming old London bedroom. Note the plaid throw!
You didn’t think I was going to forget chintz, did you? English country houses are often a floral frenzy. I love the Bowood House bedroom above, with its abundance of Colefax & Folwer’s classic bowood print. (Photo: Simon Upton for House & Garden)
The vignette above is from my favorite shop in London, Pentreath & Hall. They sell the loveliest candlesticks which makes sense being that English decorators seem to have taper candles on ever surface (mantles, dining tables, side tables, dressers, bedside tables…!). I love taper candles in bright, playful colors.
Consider a canopy bed
In Veere Grenney’s countryside bedroom he designed a custom canopy bed with bed hangings in one of his own fabrics. I love the sweet table at the foot of the bed with the potted geranium (very English).
Another fabulous canopy bed can be found in the gorgeous bedroom of Edward Bulmer. He designed the bed himself, and the eighteenth-century painted Chinese wallpaper makes for a spectacular backdrop. (Photo: Lucas Allen for House & Garden)
Jemma Kidd’s master bedroom also has a gorgeous canopy bed complete with chintz bed hangings and scalloped linens. (Photo: Simon Upton for Elle Decor)
Plum Skyes’ daughter Ursula has an antique four poster bed in her darling bedroom. I’m envious of her floral wallpaper, plaid bed hangings, and cozy beni ourain rug. (Photo: François Halard for Vogue)
Adopt a pet: the Staffordshire Spaniel
Whether or not you have a mantle, antique Staffordshire figurines are a must. I shop for antique Staffordshire pieces at flea markets and on Etsy, eBay, and Chairish. Above, a pair of Staffordshire spaniels flank the mantle at Ben Pentreath’s Dorset country house.
Welcome William Morris
For a long time I didn’t fully understand the appeal of the arts and crafts movement, but since spending more time in England, I’ve become a big fan. In the bedroom above, Ben Pentreath used William Morris’ “fruits” wallpaper and it looks absolutely stunning. (Photo: Paul Massey for House & Garden)
Consider the chesterfield
Like the roll-arm sofa, the chesterfield sofa is also quintessentially English. Amanda Brooks, an American fashion editor living in England, has a brilliant tufted sofa in a Robert Kime stripe. (Photo: Oberto Gili for Architectural Digest)
Another view of Brooks’ striped chesterfield sofa. (Photo: Oberto Gili for Architectural Digest)
Bring the outdoors in
There’s nothing more English than loads of potted geraniums on a windowsill. Above is an array of house plants in Amanda Brooks’ living room. Wether you’re a fan of ferns or orchids, the more greenery the merrier. (Photo: Oberto Gili for Architectural Digest)
Play tribute to the Queen
Classic English country homes are full of tributes to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In England, you can find a great many things with the Queen on them from tea towels to coffee mugs (Wedgwood makes some of my favorites). The Royal Doulton loving cup above is on my personal wish list. (Photo: Pentreath & Hall)
Pieces to help you get the look:
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and are feeling inspired to add a bit English charm to your own home. Do you live in England or have you spent much time there? Let me know if there are any Anglophile decorating must-haves that I’ve missed!