Sunday, April 29, 2012

Elements of English Style

What is it I like so much about the English design aesthetic?  Can I define it?  British design elements include much of what I also loved in Pennsylvania: early antiques, beautiful gardens, fireplaces when ever possible, kitchens used for cooking (not just for "show"), beloved pets and animals, warm lighting, faded fabrics.  All these elements contribute to the warmth and coziness that affected me long ago and that still do today as I revisit them in some of my favorite books and magazines.  Seeing these images again as I blog about them is like revisiting old friends.  Come meet some with me.

Here the way the light shines through the leaded window, the antique rocker and its pillow, the fireplace and its paneling speak so much to"English-ness."
               (This and the following images are from English Country Interiors, by Hugh Lander, 1989)

Note the aged beam over the hearth and sweet cupboard to the right.

While this room lacks a fireplace, it has a great clock and great lighting.  Could the desk could have been a sight for the penning of Jane Eyre or Emma?  Sunlight streams into the room behind and onto the beautiful tile floors.

I always wanted to paint this room - with the cat peering up the stair case.  What does he see, we wonder, and what is beyond the partially opened door?  Such an intriguing room with great stone floors.

Here the room's spareness is as important as the period pieces in it.

Light from the deep window highlights the blue and white transfer ware china and the very beautiful cupboard door.

This kitchen may not appeal to "kitchens-must-be-white" people, but I love the antique cupboard and stove, the stone wall, and even the cabbage and leeks on the table.

Dark I know, but the perhaps Heathcliff lived here.  Certainly the cat on the early settle looks warm and comfortable.

And now onto the restored Oxfordshire coach house of Anne and Hugh Millais which appeared in Cote Ouest's, Autumn 1995 issue. Since I organize my saved cooking and deorating magazines by the month, I put each of them on my reading pile and peruse them again as the year progresses.  When October appears on the calendar, this magazine appears on my reading pile, and it never fails to delight me, perhaps because it has so many of the English elements discussed above.

Think these are horse people?

I believe this is Hugh Millais and his horse peering in at Anne.

Why can't my mud room be leathery and tweedy and "spaniel-y?"  The mudroom of my English fantasy house will be.

For several years I tried to duplicate this charming bouquet of dried orange slices.  I just know it has that citrusy fragrance so great around the holidays.  When my orange slices rotted instead of dried, I gave up, but my fantasy English house will have just such a bouquet.

The Millais's very English drawing room.

And most fabulous of all - their kitchen complete with a tweed jacket on the chair.  It's a kitchen to live in and to cook in, not just to look at.  I've been waiting a long time to show you this one.  Hope you love it too.

Anne and Hugh are a successful design team, evidenced by their special work room.

Guest room.

To find out more about this restored coach house and the couple who restored it, I googled Anne and Hugh Millais and sadly discovered Hugh had died in 2009.   Further googling led me to the website of photographer, Andreas von Einsiedel (, and to the images below of the Millais home watermarked for protection, but so beautiful still.

I think I love Hugh.  He looks like such a kind man who loves to cook and who loves his animals! Hope you enjoyed pictures of his lovely home.  I love it for so many reasons but their kitchen especially speaks to me.

Now to a brief view of English gardens for Loi and all we garden lovers.  The first images are from Clive Nichols's photographs of Nicole Vesian's garden in France.  OK, so they are not of English an garden, but this garden is so beautiful and Clive Nichols is so English.

Vesian's garden has that serenity that boxwoods and stone and no flowers can give.

The next two gardens are English and are also so serene.
The English Cottage Garden by Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson
The English Cottage Garden by Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson

Whew!!  This was a long post, especially so because I accidentally deleted it twice when it was almost complete each time.  Grrrr.  (Ever happen to anyone else out there?)  I hope I was able to show you what I believe to be elements so common to English decor. Now, dear reader, it is time to stand, go outside and work on our own gardens on this very sunny day.  Enjoy yours.
Till next time in England,


  1. Thank YOU for the lovely garden scans...just for me!!! You are the BEST :-)

    Billie, I need more land. Just came back from the garden center with a van full....where am I going to plant everything??

    Oh, and yes, animals! That's why I love English country interiors....they love their doggies just as much as I do. And, if I lived on a farm: horses, riding boots, tweeds, etc. I'd want a house just like some of the above.

    Talk soon! Loi

  2. BTW, I love the Millais's kitchen....does have that Penna Dutch feel. So organic, mellow and charming. L

  3. Dear Billie,
    As you I adore English aesthetic! Everything feels so natural and cozy! And no, a kitchen has not te be white to me! I love that picture with that beautiful cupboard.
    And that saddle room! Oh my dear! I wished...!
    Not only the English interiors are awesome, but even the English gardens, as you showed us here!
    Thank you for this post!

  4. LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and I want to follow, do you have twitter or facebook??

    If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
    Have a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  5. Puke! Your writing style needs a lot of work, what silly remarks! I think this is so-and-so peering in the window? And all that smarmy stuff...