It goes without saying that the English have a way of making everything feel just a touch more sophisticated. Case in point? English Cottage style. Equal parts proper and rakish, English Cottage style radiates old-world warmth, yet always feels remarkably fresh. So, how do you curate the look in your own home? We’ve poured over interiors from designers like Kathryn M. Ireland and Rita Konig, and studied the homes of tastemakers like England-by-way-of-New-York-fashion-world transplant Amanda Brooks, to decode the style’s keystone elements. From roll arm sofas and wicker in excess, here are five easy ways to get the English look!
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1. Furniture with Roll Arms
To get English Cottage style rolling (so to speak), start with a roll arm sofa or chair. In addition to being an English classic, roll arm furniture imparts a relaxed, homey feel. Whether you select a deep-seated Chesterfield or a more scaled-back English Roll Arm style, spring for a piece in a busy print (or at the very least a seat-full of colorful pillows). It will ensure your roll arm gives off vibes both sophisticated and funky.
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2. Sense of Symmetry
English cottage rooms might seem disparate, but upon closer inspection there’s really a tight, symmetrical framework holding everything together. For instance, you’ll often see pairs used in English cottages, a trait which harks back to a certain sense of propriety. Using two matching armchairs to flank a fireplace is one way to instantly achieve symmetry. Other, more budget-friendly, options include setting twin lamps on either end of a console, or hanging prints from a series above a sofa.
3. All-Over Pattern
From orderly ticking stripes to exotic leopard print to sprawling toile, a mishmash of patterns is an English cottage stand-by. Since no English cottage is complete without at least two or three patterns in the mix, try applying patterns to more than just pillows. Use pattern on furniture, curtains, carpets, and even lampshades! If you feel timid about partnering up patterns, try applying one print in excess. For instance, use a single print for both the wallpaper and curtains. It’ll generate an eccentric English grandma feeling in a flash. When in doubt, a floral chintz is always a good idea.
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Nothing offsets formality like a bit of well-placed wicker. Whether it be an oversized wicker basket or a wicker side table (or even a curvy wicker lamp!) wicker encapsulates classicism, rustic-ness, and whimsy—read: the holy trinity of English Cottage style. One thing to consider when shopping for wicker? Be on the lookout for tight-woven wicker. Not only will it read a touch more sophisticated, but it will feel more like sculpture and less like superfluous clutter.
Chances are you don’t reside in an actual English cottage. Thankfully, overhead beams can make it look like you do. If your house wasn’t outfitted with original beams, don’t fret. Installing as few as two overhead beams (completely do-able with a contractor) can completely transform your space. To make the most impact, opt for a reclaimed wood finish. Don’t worry about it skewing too rustic, the farmhouse-meets-fairytale look is really what the English Cottage is all about!