English Country

OakLowResBR“I may be French, but I’ve always enjoyed decorating in the English Country Style. While it allows for a variety of interpretations, from formal to more relaxed, and can include furnishings from a variety of different eras, the overall emphasis is firmly on a traditional look, which is in keeping with my personal taste. English style transcends fashion, creating interiors that stand the test of time.

“My preference in English Country Style can combine furniture from Chippendale to Queen Anne, in woods as variable as mahogany walnut and pine. These dark woods predominate, but it is also possible to paint the wood or otherwise use distressed effects. Chairs and sofas can be overstuffed. Down feathers cushions and pillows should give a well-worn, shabby elegance. Decorative pillows are added in profusion, especially on those seating areas that are without comfortable upholstery, like window seats, banquettes or open-back chairs. Oriental influences can also be included in the mix, as the English went through a mania for Chinoiserie in the 19th Century.

“Architectural features may include exposed beams and an oversize fireplace, in addition to chair rails and dados, and raised panels either wood finish or glazed strie English homes are notoriously drafty and window treatments are vital furnishings: panels lined and interlined give a grand look as well as providing significant insulation.

“If the look is formal, particularly in a dining room or living room, then damask fabrics or silk fabrics are the ones I would select. If the look is more casual, for a great room, sitting room or bedroom, then plentiful flowered linen prints are my favorite choices. The colors should mirror the rolling hills of the English countryside, from the greens of the fields to the yellows and reds of a proper English garden. When you add patterned wallpaper and well-worn oriental rugs the effect can be quite busy, but this only adds to the cozy, lived in look that results. Walls should be adorned with portrait paintings or bucolic landscapes, or perhaps antique prints with country themes such as hunting, fishing, birding or the coats of arms of the landed gentry. The English love dogs, gardens, and horses, so you can’t go wrong roaming antique centers in search of these objects with these themes.

“To achieve the decorative clutter that is a hallmark of the English country style, it is necessary to fill the bookshelves, display cabinets and counter surfaces with family heirlooms, perhaps tea sets in silver, pewter and china, framed photos of your loved ones, correspondence or other mementos with special significance. Dried or fresh flowers always have a place on an English mantel.

“Wool or cashmere blankets on a sofa or chaise lounge in a corner further complete the comfortably lived in look. So when you have your friends over for high tea with crumpets and scones, using your Herend china, looking our over your charmingly disheveled parlor, you’ll enjoy the full effect of interior design in the English Country style.”

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