Kitchen ideas & Inspiration

The Appeal of English Country Style

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When you think about the English countryside, images conjured up are as much cliché as they are true: rolling green hills, large country estates, bubbling brooks, horses and sheep, small villages dotted in convenient intervals, a bit of grandeur and a lot of relaxation. English Country Style brings all this glorious outdoors inside.

The style is embraced far beyond Britain, informing interiors from Europe to the Americas. Its appeal is no doubt not only due to the attractiveness of the look (and its romanticization in popular media), but also to the ease with which it can be recreated, together with its mixed components and its few strict guidelines.

At the forefront of the English Country style is comfort and ease. “I see English country house style as non-formulaic and without rules,” says British designer Flora Soames. “Comfort is key, as is eclecticism and bravely mixing both old and new.” This is largely because, before its adoption overseas, English Country Style wasn’t so much a considered style as a result of years of layers built up in country homes over generations.


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The look has slowly evolved over the years, from when the English upper classes lived in rambling big country houses, spent more time outside with their horses and dogs than sitting pretty inside, and usually trudged into the living room with their muddy gum boots. Furnishings got a little worn over the years and began to look a little shabby around the edges (an effect that has been, somewhat ironically, replicated for new and mass-produced home goods in the “shabby chic” style). Natural effects like hardwood and textural stone were less stylistic decisions than the result of ancient houses (built with stone for insulation) being built on over time.

cotswold cozy barn

A country-style kitchen in the Cotswolds.

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Antiques are mixed with more modern pieces, patterns on the wallpaper and the cushions often “clash” by more rigid standards, as they date back to different times, while walls are lined with bookshelves and a selection of paintings and ephemera. Often, a room is comfortably but not oppressively full of ‘stuff’, none of which is up-to-date or adhering to any set of rules, rather being an assortment of things that bring joy and comfort, collected over years and decades.

rustic kitchen

“Timelessness comes down to an interior being without gimmicks and not mindful of trends,” says Soames. “I love the fact that interiors approached in this authentic way are constantly evolving with additions and edits made over time, as your life evolves also.”

Homes in the English Country style invite you to slouch down on the couch, fall into the cushions, and grab one of the magazines strewn around, mostly covering oh-so English pursuits, from the odd hunt to news on some of the lesser-known royals, and maybe even put your feet on the coffee table. If you know the owners well, that is.

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Scot Meacham Wood pulled elements of English Country Style—like mixed prints and assorted antiques coupled with a floral carpet—into this modern-day interior.

Thayer Allyson Gowdy

But obviously not everybody has the privilege of living and having lived in the English country for years and over generations, so how can the style be recreated without looking over-styled? Soames has a few ideas: “As a champion of print, no room is complete without a lavish print covered sofa,” she says. Other elements she suggests are antique textiles, worn occasional chairs, needlework cushions, or antique trims on opulent lampshades.

As the designer sums it up: “It’s those key mementos that you collect that makes a room personal to you, photographs, flowers of meaning and books that you love, as well as the muddy footprints of my dogs.”


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