Master of the English country house look Nicky Haslam describes his own style at home as ‘a hodgepodge’. And that rather hits the nail on the head we think. Real English country houses are built over generations, and so are a mishmash of styles, eras and personal tastes. Furniture is often a bit worn, nothing really matches, and a general feeling of not taking oneself too seriously pervades.
Pattern: mix and match it to your heart’s content. In fact, the more patterns the better. Settle on a rough colour scheme for sure, but then combine florals and stripes, plaids and ikats. This is that sense of eccentricity we were referring to earlier. A favourite combination is a pretty floral linen alongside a hardy wool check – the epitome of the British countryside.
Collections: cases of natural specimens, straw hats and baskets hung on the walls, antique gravy boats. Collections are a perfect way to convey that sense of personality (or several generations of personalities) so essential to this style.
Books: really more an extension of collections, but deserving of their own mention. Books are something most of us acquire over our lives, and there’s no better reflection of the people who live in a home than their choice of reading material. Be laidback with how you display books: some on shelves, others piled onto tables, chairs, even the floor. P.S. Back-issues of Country Life count too.
Photographs, invitations, postcards…: the mantlepieces of English country homes are invariably layered with family snapshots (some framed, some not), wedding invitations, letters from close friends and postcards from seaside holidays. This stuff of life, mixed in amongst the brass candlesticks and antique furniture, instantly cuts through any sense of stuffiness or formality.