Article by Naomi Watts
The English country look has been thriving for many years now. House and Garden magazine put this down to how, ‘English country house style embraces wear and tear, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Shabby can be chic, and a bit of silliness – sunglasses perched on the nose of a marble bust – is allowed, even welcomed.’
So, after the snazzy phase of minimalism, everyone seems to end up back at the country chic look – whether it’s because of the relaxed style or because it looks great is entirely down to personal preference. Due to the creative nature of the English country look, it’s relatively easy to achieve too. You just need a few simple basics and you’re there.
Depending on your house size, the first stage of creating the English country look is to focus on the inner shell of your home. Loud wallpapers and laminate flooring don’t really cut the mustard when it comes to the country look.
Neutrals for walls
Opt for neutral, natural colours on your walls and original looking flooring, and save the patterns for the art and cushions. If you are a wallpaper fan then look to floral designs for inspiration, the sort of wallpaper that looks like it’s taken hours to paint by hand.
Comfort over style
As you move onto soft furnishings, make sure you opt for comfort over style. If you have a really comfortable sofa that perhaps isn’t quite to your taste, you still need it in your life. You can always dress it up with some wool throws and eccentric cushions afterwards. It’s also country chic to have mismatched comfy chairs in your living room; don’t force it though, just buy what you like rather than concentrating too much on matching the right mismatch!
Looking at your windows now, if you have plain old blinds it’s definitely time to replace them with some cosy made to measure curtains. With all the options out there now, you should be able to find something you like. Country chic always requires a curtain over blinds, mainly because country houses are sometimes so draughty that they needed thick curtains to keep the warmth in. Blinds can look great though these days, stick to floral prints and have them made to fit properly.
So you’ve got a basic shell now, somewhere to sit and cosy up in, hopefully a few rugs strewn about but what about the kitchen? It’s ironic that so much focus is on rustic furniture these days, and people actually pay for furniture that looks like it’s been outside in bad weather for a couple of months.
Instead of copying this look, transform what you already have into a country masterpiece. Annie Sloan chalk paints are perfect for this as they require very minimal effort. You can find really helpful tips & techniques on the Annie Sloan website and also discover some colour inspiration.
The English country look isn’t for everyone, and it’s very much for those who don’t mind a bit of chaos in their lives. Designer Ben Pentreath has described country homes as ‘a melange of accumulated generations of furniture and clutter, such as a 1930s bathroom with no shower, poor heating, primitive wiring and some of the most beautiful furniture you have ever seen.’
Sounds a little flawed but also totally charming – quintessentially English, in fact!