English Cottage Decorating

English cottage decorating is a wonderful way to express yourself through your décor. You do not have to live in a country cottage, you can easily create the look for any room. Before you begin learning about cottage decorating it helps to understand who used to live in English cottages and who influenced the English cottage style.

English Cottage Decorating.

If you live in an English cottage you should take into consideration the cottage itself. As each English cottage was built by hand by the owner, there are no two alike.

Always be sensitive to your architecture. It was never meant to be decorated with garish prints, stainless steel, and fake features.

Try at all times to keep with the history of your cottage, if it was originally a fisherman’s cottage use coastal and nautical elements to decorate, but always keep with the authentic structure and history if you can.

English Cottage Interiors.

Doors, windows, floors, stairs and paint should always be as authentic as possible. Doors should be solid timber and have a good dull knock to them. In old cottages doors and windows will not be a standard size so you may wish to get them custom made.

Your interior doors can be fitted with metal rim latches or Norfolk or Suffolk latches bought from the ironmonger, local auction or jumble sale. Door handles can be made of china, wood, brass or iron. Most handles would have come down from the Manor house or made by the village Blacksmith so look for something authentic or get what you want custom made.

Cottage windows should never be too frilly or fussy. Most cottages have wooden shutters on the windows or simple lace curtains down to the windowsill. For some of the finest lace in Europe visit Honiton in Devon where they have been making exquisite Honiton lace for centuries. Make use of a deep windowsill by decorating it with potted plants, photos, treasures from travels abroad or sea shells if you are in a coastal cottage.

Floors should never be thickly varnished, cottages are seldom glossy! See if you can recover the natural woodwork, stonework, or flagstone on your floor before anything else.

If you are unable to restore the original floor decorate it with natural rugs like grass matting, or a large rug or kelim as opposed to wall to wall carpet which is too modern for old cottages. You can also paint the floor a flat colour or stencil or decorate as you like.

If you need a more practical flooring in the kitchen for example use real linoleum. Marmoleum from British manufacturer Forbo-Nairn is made from natural raw materials comes in a range of colours and styles.

English Cottage Paint.

English cottage paint is essential to decorating your cottage. The types of paint to use include whitewash, acrylic and old fashioned distemper ranging in shades from ochre to blue. This gives the cottage a wonderful old fashioned chalky appearance which will be warm and almost glowing in the sunshine.

The only place to buy authentic English cottage paint is through the National Trust. They have teamed up with the “Little Greene Paint Company” to create a range of distemper, limewash and flat oil paint.

The collection of “Heritage Paints” were created by renowned paint historian Patrick Baty acting as a consultant with the National Trust and the “Little Greene Paint Company” and is available in 60 colours.

If you use this paint you can use any colour you like as they will all work. Cottages can be painted red, green, blue even ochre but using the wrong paint can look horrible. Insist on the best for your cottage, use only authentic paint available from the English Heritage site. 

For more cottage paint ideas read wattle and daub

English Cottage Furniture.

English cottage furniture is rarely fitted and looks lived in. Old cottages normally inherited the furniture from the manor house that was being replaced or had gone out of fashion. Its an eclectic mix of pieces which somehow seem to belong together.

Upholstered pieces work great, slip covered furniture, painted cupboards, bookcases filled with old books and of course a wonderful oak dresser in the kitchen filled with china dinnerware, Wedgwood and Royal Worcester porcelain and blue and white Cornish ware. English antiques also belong perfectly in a cottage.

Wallpaper and Paints

For beautiful and classic wallpaper go to the experts for help. Wallpapers direct have been in business since 1904 and is still a family run business.

They have a stunning selection of brands including Morris and Co (designs by William Morris of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England) and the Little Green paint Company has archive inspired designs for wallpaper.

There is something for your cottage in here! Simply go to their home page and click on "See all our brands" for a full listing.

Have a good look around they have beautiful wallpaper, curtains, fabric and tools plus lots of inspiration and advice to help you find the perfect design. 

They even ship outside the U.K read their FAQ for more information.


English Country Cottage Design Inspiration

Choose designs from the arts and crafts movement, contemporary country, and country damasks. Absolutely perfect for your cottage or for creating the English cottage look.

Search "country cottage" for cherry picked designs to bring a little bit of the outdoors in. Or click on "trends" and find country cottage.

Fabrics and Patterns.

Fabrics are essential to English cottage decorating. Choose floral chintzes which are crisp cottons with a polished look, use ethnic fabrics like silk and anything natural such as linen or Burlap.

As you travel pick up beautiful fabrics that you love. You can always cover cushions with smaller scraps of fabric so have a look around vintage stores. ‘Cabbage and Roses’ a textile firm in England specialises in historic and printed fabrics.

Not forgetting of course the English cottage decorating favourite Laura Ashley where you can find fabrics and wallpapers also.

Have a look at Wallpaper Direct for curtains, fabrics and accessories for English cottage decorating inspiration. 

Art and Cottage Paintings.

Art really shows your personality and should be part of your English cottage decorating theme. Find paintings you love. Queen Charlotte had pictures of cottage flowers hanging in the walls of her cottage in Kew gardens.

Try paintings of English cottages or the cottage garden to really make you feel like you are in the English countryside. Landscapes of England also add the element of English country to your living space.

English country cottage decorating should celebrate the simple life and bring the English countryside inside. Simple arrangements of cottage flowers in vases or jam jars and potted plants bring the outdoors in. Sea shells or pine cones anything organic works well in English cottage decorating. English antiques or vintage treasures and even a few new items all work as long as you love them.

English cottage decorating is all about you and your lifestyle. I have seen cottages furnished with treasures from France, Italy and abroad it just depends on the cottagers lifestyle.

To learn more, read decorating books, visit cottages open to the public or stay in a holiday cottage that has been decorated in a way that appeals to you to get inspiration for your own home…

Look for the book the "Perfect English Cottage" by Ros Byam Shaw.

...As if you needed an excuse to have an English cottage holiday:)

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