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Create a Warm, Inviting Home with English Country Decorating

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English country style emphasizes coziness and our relationship with nature. Elements are drawn from English country homes that often feature steep, thatched roofs, manicured grounds and effusive gardens.

The decor can be casual or formal, and the focus is on function rather than flair. Furniture is traditionally styled and the rooms are full of color. Whether the home is a small cottage or sprawling estate, English county decorating exudes warmth, comfort and a love for family.

  • Color

    Color abounds in English country decorating. Hues are pulled from nature, such as the pinks and yellows from roses in an English garden or the greens from the rolling hills of the countryside. The colors can be vibrant or muted and the style features plenty of patterns, especially floral. The color palette usually features three or four colors and should make the room appear cozy, inviting and lived-in. Although English country kitchens frequently feature white cabinets, color is usually added in the countertops and accessories.

  • Fabrics

    Fabrics are plentiful and mixed, from upholstered sofas to table skirts. Ruffled pillows and lace window treatments soften rooms throughout the home. Chintz, floral patterns and damasks are common choices, and all can be placed together in the same room.

    Patterned wallpaper is also popular and area rugs usually feature patterns as well. English country style can be busy, but should not be overwhelming. Large prints will be paired with smaller prints, such as gingham, with similar color palettes.

  • Furniture

    Furniture styles are traditional, such as Queen Anne or Victorian, and the predominant material is wood. The wood can light or dark-colored, or even painted, stenciled and distressed. Tables, dressers and bookshelves are typically made of oak, mahogany or pine. Accents, such as the handles on drawers, will be made of brass. Sofas and chairs tend to be deep-seated and upholstered with patterned fabrics. Throw pillows or upholstered pads soften the look and feel of wooden chairs and window seats.

    Display racks, built-in bookshelves and china cabinets throughout the home show off treasured items and family heirlooms, such as straw baskets and tea sets. English country emphasizes the functionality of furniture and pieces tend to be well-worn, yet sturdy.

  • Accessories and Details

    English country decorating features plenty of accessories and period details, such as beamed ceilings, wainscoting and wood floors. Most homes have a fireplace and a large family portrait is commonly hung over the mantle or prominently displayed on a wall. Accessories emphasize family ties, such as photographs and handmade throws and pillows.

    Lamps, candles and traditional chandeliers are used rather than recessed lighting. Vases filled with fresh flowers from the garden or baskets of dried flowers are scattered throughout the home. Flower arrangements, as well as other accessories, are kept simple. Flea markets and garage sales are excellent places to search for English country accessories. Keep an eye out for lace or floral-patterned curtains and simple items that reflect the comforts of home, such as a hat rack or pine chest. English country style should not look planned or designed, but rather the result of generations living in a home.

Decorating Tips

  • Second-hand furniture can be painted and then sanded lightly to give it a distressed look.

  • Slipcovers for sofas and chairs are an easy way to bring English country style patterns and color into the room without buying new furniture. Slipcovers can be custom-made, but big-box retailer stores sell slipcovers to fit standard loveseats, sofas and chairs.

  • Small family snapshots can be enlarged and framed to hang on a wall. Some stores offer restoration for faded or wrinkled photographs.

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