Many of us dream about owning a picturesque country cottage in the English countryside, filled with beautiful antiques and period features, and over the last few years, an English country style has been a leading look in the world of interior design.
As much as we love to dream, the reality is, not all of us live in cozy cottages in rural England, but fear not city dwellers, no matter what country you live in or the age and style of your home, there are a few easy ways you can recreate the English cottage aesthetic in your space.
From classic cottage decorating ideas that embrace plenty of natural materials such as wood and stone, to enhancing your home with traditional patterns and prints, we've asked a collection of interior designers to share their best advice for recreating an English cottage look – no matter what style of home you live in.
Interior designers share how they create an English cottage style
'The English cottage style is a charming and cozy aesthetic, drawing on inspiration from quaint cottages found in rural Britain. Leaning into rustic finishes and natural elements, such as exposed wood, stone fireplaces and soft furnishings made from linen, country decorating ideas and English cottagecore interiors resemble a lived-in, storybook feel,' says Jessica Hanley, founder of Piglet in Bed.
Jessica Hanley is the founder of Piglet in Bed, a sustainable bedding and homeware brand based in the UK. Founded in 2017 in Jessica's mother's garden shed in rural England, English cottage style is at the core of this brand's aesthetic.
1. Embrace a characterful mix of patterns and prints
One of the easiest ways you can bring a dose of English cottage charm into your interior space is by decorating with pattern.
From decorating with stripes and decorating with gingham to embracing patterns and prints designs from iconic British designers, such as William Morris, and institutions such as Liberty London, these designs can be used across wallpaper ideas, furniture, soft furnishings and even through artwork and accessories.
Jessica Hanley from Piglet in Bed says, 'When it comes to upholstery, nostalgic prints like gingham, stripes, and dainty florals, delivered in a soft and warm color palette, feature within this story-infused decor style – and don't be scared to clash prints and fabrics; that’s all part of the English cottage charm.'
2. Use plenty of natural materials
'Years ago when cottages were built in the countryside, homeowners used wood from the surrounding area to build furniture. While I love painted furniture and have it all throughout my home, I try to incorporate a lot of natural wooden pieces as well for that English country cottage look,' says home decorating expert, Andrea Francavilla.
We adore the use of natural materials in this cottage kitchen, designed by British Standard. From the mix of wood finishes used across the kitchen cabinets, wall paneling and dining furniture, to the traditional terracotta tiles on the floor, the result establishes a wonderfully rustic look – but with a charming, colorful edge.
As well as materials such as wood and stone, embrace tactile natural textures such as wool and linen. In this kitchen, kitchen rug ideas and valance ideas for kitchens have been used to add a sense of softness to the space, with these details helping to create that cozy, cottage feel.
As Jessica Hanley says, 'Layer plenty of soft furnishings, and differing textures like throws, quilts, and bedding made from natural fabrics such as linen or cotton.'
Andrea Francavilla is a home decorating expert based in Michigan. Andrea runs an interiors blog and YouTube Channel, Pine and Prospect Home, and her entire 1940's home is decorated in English Cottage Style.
3. Create a cozy-country look in a bathroom
'A cottage bathroom should evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. Look for materials that defuse light and create a relaxing ambiance,' says Emma Joyce, brand manager at Victoria + Albert Baths. 'When choosing your bathroom fixtures and fittings, matt is preferable to gloss, creating a surface that feels warm to the touch and gentle on the skin. A traditional roll-top bath with clawed feet for your bathtub ideas is an obvious choice, but more contemporary designs that have natural, organic shapes will also work perfectly.'
'Originally found in grand 18th and 19th century English houses, the resurgence of Delft tiles is yet another example of the country house aesthetic finding its place in today’s homes. Tapping into the new mood for thoughtful, purpose-led designs with a nostalgic yet modern aesthetic, Delft tiles have a universal appeal, because anyone can apply the designs to their lives. Each combination of motif or illustration is entirely personal, and often deeply sentimental, reflecting the move towards characterful, individual interiors.'
Homeware designer, Petra Palumbo specializes in creating colorful, handmade pieces for the home. She set up her homeware company in 2019, and is renowned for her colorful tile and glassware designs.
4. Make the most of your fireplace
Interior designer, Courtney Wollersheim says, 'For an English country cottage look that overflows in quaintness, spend time on making the hearth a focal point in the room with a brick or white-washed stone surround, antique vintage fireplace accessories, a healthy mantel with vintage frames, and black and white photos.'
If you have a fireplace in your home, then be sure to make the most of this design feature, but if you are without, then of course, do not worry – you don't need to install a fireplace to nail the English country cottage look!
Courtney is a designer at Floor 360, a tile specialist company based in Madison and Milwaukee. She pursued a degree and career in interior design that has spanned 25 years – earning the trust of homeowners, business owners, architects, and design peers. Her portfolio includes designs for hotels, spas, apartments, and many homes.
5. Style your space with hand-crafted, thoughtful decorations
'The charm and character found in antique items is hard to replicate, and English cottage style is almost impossible to achieve without decorating with vintage and decorating with antiques. One easy decorating idea that is so simple and affordable is to decorate with books. I love using vintage books throughout my decor, and the best place to find them is usually at thrift shops,' says Andrea Francavilla.
She continues, 'Showcasing collections of decorations can also work wonderfully for this style. If you have a beautiful set of bone china, vintage artwork, old books, or even antique breadboards, display them for all to see.'
6. Look to the beauty of the natural world for inspiration
At the heart of all county interiors is, you've guessed it, the beauty of the natural world and surrounding rural landscape.
Creating an inviting and grounding indoor-outdoor feel through natural materials, earthy, warming color palettes, and patterns and prints that celebrate nature, is one of the most important parts of an English cottage style.
From embracing a ditsy wallpaper print for floral room decor, to embracing the rustic, natural beauty of wood for your furniture, the natural world will always provide a source of inspiration for a cozy, cottage feel.
What makes a house an English cottage?
English cottages are period homes found in the countryside. Often small, cozy spaces, they can date back to the late nineteenth century, and are built using traditional materials such as brick, stone, wood and thatch.
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Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.
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