The British countryside is dotted with spectacular stately homes, with interiors most of us only see on the pages of magazines, or recreated in a Bridgerton-esque Netflix series. However, it’s hard to deny the beauty of a stately home, and the appeal of its rich history reflected in striking architecture and evocative interior design.
The central principles of a stately interior are instantly recognisable: the high ceilings and double-height windows, a mix of inherited furniture, oversized portraits that hung in every room, an abundance of color and seemingly intentional mismatch of patterns. It is simultaneously playful and steeped in heritage.
A stately home look can be achieved on a smaller, more personal scale with a few well-placed antiques, lots of colorful prints, and some clever DIY tricks to recreate historic architecture. Read on for some inspiration…
1. Show real paintings
If you scour the English countryside, you probably won’t find a single stately home that isn’t filled with grand portraits of previous homeowners and relatives, or beautiful landscapes with nearby views.
Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord says, “Art adds character and a sense of personality to a space that you can’t always fully achieve through materials and colors in a room. A room without art is an unfinished room. Remember that art doesn’t always have to be hung in the center of the wall, it can be placed on tables or layered next to sculptures or on bookshelves and joinery.”
“We like to use tapestries in hallways as they add richness and warmth to a space that may not have a lot of furniture. They also come in huge landscape formats, making them ideal for long hallways or entrances.”
2. Go classic with furniture
Traditional furniture with clever turned wood details and sumptuous soft furnishings is a well-known decorative figure in English country houses. Furniture is meant to be passed down from generation to generation, found at local antique markets or picked up on glamorous trips abroad – it’s a style that likes to embrace a little wear and tear.
If you don’t have any inherited treasures, it’s easy to recreate the look with some carefully selected pieces – pay particular attention to silhouettes, which should be sturdy and sturdy, but with bent legs or arms, and upholstery, which can be leather, a crisp linen, or something with a dense pattern.
3. Use Paint to Fake Historic Architecture
There are several tricks to recreate the grandiose architecture of English stately homes if your own home is a little lacking in crown molding. Some sophisticated wallpapers — such as the Cole & Son Grand Masters collection of historic royal palaces — can mimic the look of classic arches or wood paneling.
Or for a DIY version with a bit of humor, we love the casual, hand-painted panels and round olive green door frame, both made with Annie Sloan paint.
4. Choose the highest quality floor you can
There’s a bit of leeway when it comes to typical floors in a stately home – it ranges from rugged flagstone to original wood floors (piled up with patterned rugs) and lavish rugs. However, all options are of the highest quality – after all, a stately home must last for centuries.
We’re leaning more towards comfort underfoot – because while we want to recreate the stately, homely look, we don’t necessarily want to imitate the infamous draft. Keep tiled floors or similar tiles for the kitchen and utility room and go for a little luxury in your living room and bedroom with a deep-pile carpet.
5. Introduce Pattern
A degree of informality in stately homes means that colors and prints are mixed with abandon – and so wide stripes, dainty flowers and rainbow ikats happily coexist. This is probably the happiest side of stately homes, which can otherwise get a little drowned out in dark woods and overly decorative details.
It’s certainly the most fun aspect of this design scheme to achieve as you have carte blanche to throw together everything you really love, be it a seashell printed cashmere throw, or a Jemima Duck lampshade…
6. Mix Into Antiques
Last but not least, adding a few antique pieces to the mix is absolutely essential – and according to design experts, antiques are a big trend for 2022.
“AW21 and beyond we’ll see a revival of more decorative 17th-century styles with thoughtful details like a hand-turned coil or twisted barley legs,” says Camilla. “We have noticed that bobbin furniture is becoming increasingly popular in antique markets and auctions, and this is reflected in some recent collections of contemporary homeware, including those from Alfred Newell, Soane, and Soho Home.”
And it’s not just antique furniture that will come in handy in recreating the personality of an English country house. Interior designer, Andrew Martin, says: “Vintage and collectible accessories will also add eternal quirks and give a space that might otherwise be trendy but lifeless, a real sense of depth, personality and soul.”
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