THE Royal Wedding is just two weeks away. Come on, be honest, you are kind of interested and a bit curious. The truth is that there is something fascinating about the lives of the English aristocracy. Perhaps it is the Jane Austen we read as teenagers or the English heritage sites we were dragged round as children. Whatever the cause, the quintessentially English look is becoming even more fashionable now that every paper has a page or two dedicated to Kate. The clothes she wears are out of stock everywhere and English brands and designers are grabbing the headlines. Quintessentially English interiors, however, have been a little neglected. Strange considering the country manor is an essential facet of the lifestyle. So how do we pretenders get the patriotic look? Here’s our cheaters guide.
1. PERIOD HOME
While this is a cheater’s guide, you can’t cheat entirely. The period home is indispensable. While it is more fitting to have a countryside home, where you can roam around the grounds, the key is to find a home with some history. Melanie Backe-Hansen, Chesterton and Humberts’ in-house historian, says that Victorian and Georgian homes tend to offer the look that most people associate with Englishness. If you’re keen to stay in London, and have the cash, there are numerous examples of fine Victorian and Georgian houses in the capital.
2. FINE DETAILS
The finer details such as the mouldings on the walls, elegant fireplaces and tiled floors tend to be the interior features that make Georgian and Victorian homes stand out. Backe-Hansen says that these features often lie dormant in period homes: hidden under carpets or behind 1950s gas fires. So if you already own a period property, rip up the carpet and see what you can find. These things make an enormous difference to the quality of the look you create. If the unsophisticated folk who lived in the property before you removed them, replacing them is not too much hard work. Interior designers who work with heritage homes will have no trouble sourcing original replacements for you.
3. BUY BRITISH
There is something satisfying about buying products with a Royal warrant and when it comes to Royal warranted interior suppliers the vast majority offer a heritage feel. Cole & Son, the 131-year-old wallpaper supplier, for instance, offers subtly exquisite designs, similarly Clive Christian’s kitchens have a blingy elegance about them (if you like that sort of thing). You cannot go far wrong if you follow these crown crest brands. Oh, and buy an Aga.
Natalia Miyar, a senior designer at Helen Green Designs (the agency known for the quintessentially English interiors in the Berkley hotel, Knightsbridge) says that an important part of creating an English look is sourcing antiques to give the room a feeling of history. Go along to Masterpiece London (30 June-5 July), which – in its second year – boasts an unparalleled spread of English design traditions, from antiques to classic cars. We also like Ronald Phillips in Mayfair (ronaldphillipsantiques.com), who has one of the country’s best collections of British antiques, including some rare and exquisite mirrors.
5. GET PATRIOTIC
Of course, no English home is complete without a splash of brazen patriotism. Cool Brittania and Britpop first made the Union Jack cool cultural currency. And so quintessential British designer Paul Smith jumped on this symbol of Anglomania by splashing Union Jacks on as much as possible. Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood also took up the Union Jack flag, translated it into interiors – think cushions, spreads and even the odd mug. Selfridges and Debenhams have some goodies. If you want to go all out, pay a visit to the new Zetter Townhouse hotel in Farringdon, designed by the brilliant Russell Sage, and check out his controversial Union Jack bedroom, with the flag as bunting. If the Union Jack is too brazen for you, why not go for a stamp-inspired rug? You can have the Queen’s image on a 1p rug. (freshdesignblog.com/tag/rug/). It doesn’t get more patriotic than that.