My obsession with all things French (Parisian, to be exact), is only rivaled by my obsession with all things British. The home of The Beatles, elaborate wide-brimmed hats, high tea, David Beckham — what's not to love? I must have some English blood in me somewhere.
I often dream of a home in the English countryside… a cosy little stone cottage to call my own, with a perfectly overgrown garden full of roses and lavender. The Brits are experts at decorating with charm and character. They really know how to make a space warm and inviting, while still sticking to their Puritan roots.
There are plenty of spaces fit for a civilized afternoon tea in Ben Pentreath's new book, English Decoration (2012 Ryland Peters & Small), pictured above. The beautiful hardcover design tome is chock-full of contemporary spaces inspired by traditional English design. Think walls of century-old blue and white crockery, well-worn Chippendale chairs and over-stuffed bookcases (insert wistful sigh here).
What is it that makes an English room so markedly — English? "… both comfort and cosiness, grandeur and simplicity, sense and sensibility," says Pentreath. Here are a few of my favourite British spaces, from the book and beyond:
This is a shot of the author's own country-style kitchen in Dorset. The use of antique furniture like the utilitarian table and distressed wood chairs gives the room a well-worn, timeless appeal. Bits of blue and white Victorian tableware, flowers and tomato red accents enliven the space.
Isn't this vintage-style room dreamy? A recovered 19th-century English sofa and a pale blue tufted ottoman create a feminine, cosy space. An 1835 mahogany grandfather clock, 18th-century English bronze lantern and exposed stone walls offer old world charm.
This family opted for a modern take on British style in their practical and playful entryway. A mirror featuring a circular reclaimed-wood window frame and silver starburst pendant light lend a modern touch. A well-worn rug in patriotic colours and several British flags stored in a wooden bin make the space more traditional.
This drawing room has a decidedly dramatic take on English decor. A bold, tufted red velvet sofa and 18th century English portrait hung in a gilded frame make for a sumptuous, stately space. A regency chair, leather armchair and Georgian wood garlands lend an air of tradition and masculinity.
I'm not usually drawn to a space this traditional, but who could resist that cosy armchair, wood-burning fireplace and soothing colour palette? I absolutely love the collection of objects and books that decorate the built-in cream shelves, too.
Maybe one day real estate in London will be in the cards. Until then, I'll be adding bits of British flare to my home, and daydreaming about that stone cottage over tea.
1-2. English Decoration (2012 Ryland Peters & Small), photography by Jan Baldwin
3. House & Home July 2008 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
4. House & Home Makeovers 2011 issue, photography by Per Kristiansen
5. Elle Decor
6. House & Home April 2008 issue, photography by Angus McRitchie