How to decorate in English country house style

If you love Brideshead Revisited and wish you lived on the set of Downton Abbey, then English country house style is for you.

You may not have access to 44 bedrooms (think of all the dusting!), a library or a butler called Jeeves, but you can introduce elements of this traditional, timeless style into almost any interior.

It’s a relaxed, thrown-together look, with styles and patterns mixed together and classic pieces of furniture interposed with modern pieces.  Here’s how to do it.

The look

Fabrics on cushions and curtains should be chintz, large floral patterns, muted stripes, checks or tartans. Don’t go for anything too bright or garish, and avoid geometric patterns. If you choose plain curtains and soft furnishings, mix up the textures with velvet, silk and wool. Stick to one main colour palette, such as blue and grey, to prevent the finished look from being too busy.

Walls should either be plain and painted a neutral colour, or wall papered (choose a pattern with a large motif). A plethora of pattern – chintz, checks, muted stripes – and strong carpets, soften the eighteenth century paneling, which is painted a shade between duck egg blue and watery green – darker below the dado rail and lighter above. Pictures are perfectly hung. Large imposing portraits on the walls; and small charming watercolours in tight groups around the fireplace.

Country house style living room interior decor scheme

Accessories are an essential part of the decor, and should be eclectic (giving the impression your family has been collecting them for years!). Trawl antique shops and salvage fairs for china, botanical prints, old landscape paintings, candlesticks and stags’ heads (if you don’t fancy the real thing, there are some excellent and quirky alternatives made from wool, wood or pretty much anything you can think of). Add in a few modern pieces such as picture frames to emphasise your personality. Set vases full of fresh flowers on polished wood tables.

Don’t be too formal with pictures. Group smaller pictures together around another feature such as a fireplace, and position larger artwork by itself. Mixing sizes and shapes will help give the room a lived-in air.

Steer away from harsh overhead lighting, and choose mood lighting. Table lamps with heavy china bases and silk shades will look the part.

Ideally, floors should be bare stained boards covered with rugs. If you have to go with carpet, choose a neutral colour such as grey or oatmeal.

Essential English country house style picks

Keen to get going and create an English country house style in your home? Here are our top picks to help you get the perfect look.

Grey wall mounted stag’s head, Melody Maison

Stag’s head, £16.95 from Melody Maison

A great budget option, this grey stag’s head is just £16.95 from Melody Maison.

Glencoe stags’ head wall hooks, Artisanti

Stags’ head hooks, £40 from Artisanti

Hang your wax jackets and tweed caps on this stylish set of three stags’ head hooks, £40 from Artisanti. They’re made from solid brass, and look just as good when not in use.

Camel Stewart tartan cushion, Annabel James

Stewart tartan cushion, £44.95 from Annabel James

A Merino lambswool cushion in traditional Camel Stewart tartan design in natural shades with button and fringe detail, this comes complete with a feather filled cushion. £44.95, available from Annabel James. Matching throw also available.

Glass vase, House Doctor

Glass vase, £6.50 by House Doctor

Fill this simple clear glass vase with wild flowers or a garden bouquet. Mix it with other vases in different sizes, shapes and materials for a visually appealing effect.£6.50, available from Idyll Home.

Smoky silver ceramic candlesticks, live laugh love

Silver candlesticks, £14.95 from live laugh love

These simple, stylish, silver pillar ceramic candle sticks will enhance your mantlepiece, windowsill or side table. £14.95, available from live laugh love. In two different heights, they’ll help create a casual, relaxed effect.


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