‘The stately homes of England
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O’er all the pleasant land.’
(Felicia Hemans, 1827)
The English country house style is full of timeless charm. If you are a fan of collectables, historical pieces, and antique jewellery, you will no doubt fall head over heels for this romantic interior style. Straight out of the pages of classic novels, English county homes are whimsical, cosy, and warm. Whether you have an ancestral home, or a modern house, there are plenty of ways to recreate this style.
The history behind the house
The traditional country house style is rich with interesting history. It actually originated during the Tudor period, a time of relative peace and security in Britain. As it was no longer necessary to focus your home-making efforts towards defence of property, aristocrats could instead prioritise design. Their houses became sources of pride; a way of showing off their money and impressing their peers. And thus, the country house aesthetic was born.
Despite the true age of this style, it wasn’t until the 1920s that the interior style that we recognise today came into fashion. Ironic as it sounds, it was an American woman, Nancy Lancaster, that coined the style. Her philosophy regarding interior design revolved around comfort and elegance. Expertly, she found ways to combine the traditional country house style with the practicalities of the twentieth century. The aesthetic has persisted over the last hundred years, and it’s not going anywhere soon. Even through the popularity of minimalist design, the English country house style remains a favourite.
The aesthetic is timeless. The ‘shabby chic’ style can only get better with time. Plus, the ‘more is more’ mentality linked to this style means that your home will look better and better over years of collecting new art, ornaments and furniture.
How to recreate the look
This style can be recreated and adapted to suit the space you’re working with. Whether you’re looking to start from scratch in a new home, or you want to make your living room feel a bit more cosy, we have some top country house tips for you…
Historical accents work beautifully with this scheme. you are lucky enough to have a house with original beamed ceilings, a cosy open fireplace, or hardwood floors, then you’re already on-top of this element. These features are familiar and domestic; pair them with framed family photos and they will give your house a homely feel.
Florals are essential with this stunning style. A big theme of the aesthetic is the idea of bringing the world outside in the house. Whether you fill your house with vases of flowers, or opt for floral prints on curtains and tablecloths, there is always a way to freshen up your home with florals. If you want a more subtle floral effect, invest in some antique silver. Lots of silver items feature floral motifs and they will also add a nostalgic sense of antiquity to your home.
Details are everything
The beauty of an English country house is that you constantly discover new personal touches within the eclectic theme. Baskets, boxes and other ornamental antiques are perfect for adding those extra little touches to your home. What’s more, these tiny antiquities will give the impression of a vast collection that’s taken generations to acquire, giving an ancestral feel to your home.
Bookshelves are a must!
What’s a traditional English house without some traditional English books. Bookshelves are essential to country house interiors, and it’s another case of the more the merrier. As well as a copious amount of bookshelves, your country house wouldn’t be complete without some cosy nooks and comfy sofas to get your nose thoroughly stuck into a great book and keep your letterheads. With the temperamental British weather, you will end up spending a lot of time in these cosy corners, so invest time in perfecting them.
Antique furniture is the cherry on the top of this style. A classic trope of the English country house look is its eccentric busyness. So, go wild! Pick a range of furniture in different styles, from different time periods. It may seem random, but when they all sit together with the rest of your theme they will look right at home.
Patterned fabrics will add that extra something special to your furniture. If you’re feeling crafty, you could even upholster a modern armchair with vintage material — no one will ever know the difference!
The age-old beauty of the English country house style will make you feel cosy and content. If you prefer maximalist styles and historical features to stripped-back minimalism, then this is the style for you!