How to add a touch of Englishness to your living room

With the Scandinavian influences of a certain furniture mega-store, many people have lost the edge of Englishness when it comes to their living rooms. Instead, they’re beset by a kind of international style that doesn’t allow for the quirks of chintz and floral design. Fortunately, the English do chintz very well, and the classic country house style, which uses this to great effect, is a major English export.

Happily, Englishness is back in vogue, and there are a few ways in which you can add the essence of the style without overdoing it.

Layered quality fabrics

The classic fabrics that have been manufactured in England since the Industrial Revolution centre on high quality and fine texture. The softness of lambswool and the weight of tweed emphasise the quality of these two particular textiles and the reasons why they have always been popular.

Using fabulous, soft throws to cover old and worn furniture is a classic trick, which still works very well. The secret to success is in choosing a particularly lovely or unusual fabric, so when searching for the perfect blankets or throws to use, check the labels for provenance. Made in Britain is good. New wool or lambswool in addition is great. Classic colours hark back to the national flag, with red and white, and even with the additional blue (although that is British, not English); alternatively, twill patterns woven into tweed can give old furniture a new look, and bespoke upholsterers may cost less than buying a new suite.

Cushioned sitting room

Mismatched cushions of varying sizes, including enormous, well-stuffed floor cushions are another wonderful way of utilising essentially English fabrics. A great style point to remember is that they should never be 30 cm square or less – too dull and suburban a style. Instead, go for different shapes, large and small, and all plumped up well and cosy to sit on.

Make it cosy and warm

Cosy is certainly part of English style, and with astronomical fuel bills in the UK, it’s something that is either expensive or otherwise difficult to achieve. A way of addressing this is with painted shutters: a very English addition to the home. They are often called colonial or plantation shutters because the British colonists took them all over the world. Their adjustable wooden louvres keep out the cold and lock in the heat when closed.

A vintage paint job

Paint can be ordered in any colour under the sun, but to extend the feeling of sublime Englishness, certain paint companies, such as Dulux and Crown, have vintage colour ranges. They mimic and use similar tones to those that were popular 100 years ago.

The entire range of Farrow & Ball paints is based on these traditional colours. They utilise the natural pigments and dyes that would have been available then, including varying-hued whites, aspects of maroon, natural greens from sage to slate, and blue-greys. A simple and cost-effective way to make a living room more English is to paint it in one of these colours, featuring the shutters in a complementary shade.

With all style, the devil is in the detail. Just a few, well-thought-out additions can make a huge amount of difference, and of course, one of the archetypal features of the English is that they tend to be understated.

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