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Warmth and peace in the English countryside

Stella Wright-Johnson |
Dating back to as early the early 1700s, English country houses built a foundation on which new masters were building, expanding the style but staying loyal to the old meaning of easy living.

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The 17th and 18th centuries brought a great transformation of daily life which in turn impacted domestic decoration in England. Materials imported from continental Europe, the Far East, and North America ended up in more comfortable and more elegant homes and new generations of architects, together with more skillful craftsmen expanded the old look to be more sophisticated. They started with Renaissance ideas that came to mix with old English and north European home styles.

Since old country homes belonged to English aristocracy as their places in nature, their interiors were rich, with mixed styles of England, France, and the Netherlands. And exactly that mix created a completely new style, distinct from any other and recognizable at the first sight. Old houses were, and still are, decorated with a lot of love because the aristocracy almost had an obligation to spend some time at the country, far away from crowded cities and they wanted to keep a certain degree of beauty and comfort.

Paneled walls, leather chairs, and chintz everywhere - those are design elements the old English interior cannot exist without. Pillows are scattered all around to make the space rich but not overwhelmingly so. Colours vary from deep dark red to very bright, and so do wallpapers, but it cannot be boring: stripes, flowers, and other shapes are a must. What's missing? A fireplace, of course. Sometimes in the central living room with very high ceilings, sometimes in a smaller back room, fireplaces are welcomed relaxation pieces after a long day outside.

We could say that an old English style is a mix of traditional pieces, unexpected colors, different fabrics, porcelain, and accessories all around the space. This is true even for a more modern homes from the beginning of the 20th century of even from 1945-50 period: the overall design is more airy with a lot of open space but still consisting of many small pieces and complementing colours. And the dog's place, that' obligatory. No matter is it in front of a fireplace or separate chair, the man's best friend always has its place inside, guarded and loved.

Art is also very present in old English house. As a matter of fact, we could say that the home without at least a small artworks corner is not an English house. Porcelain is a must too because of unavoidable tea, while portraits, antiques, brass and leaded glass are in many cases pieces passed down from one generation to the next, preserving dear memories. Generally speaking, an old English house always looks cluttered but in fact it never really is: every piece has its place and not a single one is too many.

A true old English home is a mix of Gothic, Tudor, Elizabethan, English Rococo, Neoclassical an most probably any other style imaginable but in their essence they are very simple: they are warm places full of memories, places where you feel secure while the aroma of an afternoon tea is floating from the old kitchen, through a narrow hall and flowers on the wall, all the way to your favorite place in the smoking room filled with old books.

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