Recreating English country style stateside with a new Cotswold-inspired home – this home proves it can be done

This Philadelphia new-build was inspired by the history and craftsmanship of English country homes in the Cotswolds

exterior of stone built country home with blue skies and mature trees
(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

At the heart of a seven-acre plot and surrounded by mature woods and parkland, this beautiful stone-built home looks as if it has stood here for centuries. In fact, however, it was only recently completed. 

The unique five-bedroom residence was built to resemble the Cotswold architectural style, with details that showcase true craftsmanship. It's this level of attention to detail that makes it one of the world's best homes.  

Barbara Gisel Design is the interior design firm behind the three-year-long project.  Lead designer Barbara Gisel shows us round and explains the processes and thinking behind the design decisions. 'To produce such an exceptional home required age-old building practices and hand-made methodology. Our client understood the level of finishing that was needed and was able to make decisions with the team and move along with the orchestration of the project,' she says. 'While the exterior was composed of grays and warm stones, aged copper box gutters and a tile roof, the interiors were comprised of chamfered wood bases, quarter sawn oak paneling, Lutyens inspired ceiling beams, gracious millwork, furnishings, and antique rugs that add warmth, patterns, and textures.'

living room with fire lit taupe armchairs and green sofa and wainscot paneled walls and ceiling beams

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

Living room ideas here in the family living room are relaxed and welcoming. The glowing firelight brings out the warm tones of the wooden paneling and Lutyens-inspired ceiling beams. 'It was imperative to the client that each decision was extensively considered and adopted the English country house aesthetic and inspiration,' says designer Barbara Gisel, and in this room that's clear to see. 

living room with ceiling beams and fire lit with wainscot walls and taupe armchair and ornate wood chest

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

Designer Barbara Gisel explains that a great deal of research went into curating antique lighting, furniture, and textiles for each room. 'The found pieces were meant to carefully coordinate and complement the custom-made furniture creating an interior that was indeed Cotswold, functional, and truly special and unique to the owners. Art is a collection of oil paintings, antique maps and antique theatre placards, all relating to interests of our client,' she says.  

library with fitted bookcases large table and paneled walls with steel framed windows

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

No self-respecting Cotswold home is complete without a library. And in this little piece of England in Philadelphia, the library is at the end of the central spine of the house. Home library ideas here are very much on the grand country house scale, and feature lead metal windows and doors, a Chesney’s limestone carved fireplace, custom made furnishings and antique Sultanabad rugs, coordinating in color and design. The English oak antique library table is flanked by wing chairs (circa 1820) reupholstered in Colefax & Fowler wool plaid. The room is lit by hidden 2” accent lighting off hand planed and chamfered white oak beams, complementing the waxed white oak rift and quartered paneled walls and cabinetry.  

formal dining room with polished wood table and chairs and mural with ceiling beams

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

Among the dining room ideas that create the sense of a formal English country-house dining room are: a mid-19th-century Bakhashayesh rug in a rare size; an English regency mahogany extending table; an early 19th-century English regency mahogany serving table; and below the serving table, an English regency mahogany and bronze mounted cellarette. The mural was commissioned by an award-winning local artist who took inspiration from the Philadelphia Schuylkill River rowing scene, circa 1880-1900. 

kitchen with island with turned legs range cooker with copper pans and white countertops and ceiling beams

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

Opposite the library, on the central axis of the house, is the open plan kitchen/family room and breakfast room. Anyone looking to create a traditional English country kitchen, might consider including copper and dark wood in their kitchen ideas as here, where 19th-century copper pendant lights light up a traditional-looking dark wood island with turned legs. Several antique area rugs and similar lighting connect the rooms through color, design, and overall aesthetic.  

breakfast nook with sunflowers on table and windows all round

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

'One of our favorite rooms was the breakfast room, sheathed in lead windows, with minimal steel structure around the windows, tooled limestone chamfered edges to the walls, and plaster carved ceiling,' says designer Barbara Gisel. The sun moves around the U-shaped room through the double-height windows and an English made table and chairs are used for family gatherings. The ceiling light is an antique. 

landing with window seats and small table

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

The second floor main hall is spacious enough to be treated as an additional room and features built in bookcases with a leaded glass pendant above a late-19th-century mahogany center table and unusual reupholstered 19th-century mahogany stools. The inviting window seat, cozy antique rug, and brimming bookcases make this a place to linger, rather than just a hallway to pass through. 

white bathroom with twin sinks and ornately detailed vanity units

(Image credit: Durston Saylor)

The challenge for the primary bathroom was tailoring the bathroom ideas to fit the home's Cotswold country house aesthetic. Designer Barbara Gisel opted for subtle plaster pink walls and cabinetry, with beautifully finished gothic-inspired millwork detailing on the double vanity unit and mirrored cabinet to add a sense of history. Subway tiles to half-wall height and floor tiles in plaster pink and grey complete the scene. 

Interior design: Barbara Gisel Design
Photography: Durston Saylor  

Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.