Decorating English Country Style

I first heard about the highly respected English design firm, Colefax and Fowler via Mario Buatta. Mario is one of my favorite designers and in interviews, he often mentions how he was greatly influenced by their work back when he was just starting out in the 1960’s. His book comes out in October…I can’t wait! If you want to pre-order it, you’ll find it on Amazon. I rarely pre-order books, but I did this one!

If you visit the Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler online site, you’ll find rooms decorated in traditional style, some with a modern twist. The ones that are a bit more modern are a little too modern for my taste, but the following four rooms made my heart sing. (Next four pics are from their site and can be found at the link above.)

Loved this cozy entrance hall. The door is the perfect shade of green, isn’t it? Love the hats! That would be an easy thing to duplicate in any entry. Wish we could see from what they are hanging. I can just barely make out the edge of a hat rack, also painted in a pretty green. There are chairs for sitting so you can pull on your boots before heading out.

Cozy Hall, English Design


I absolutely love a dining room that doubles as a library. I keep trying to think of a way to incorporate that into my home, but unfortunately, my dining room just isn’t large enough. Wish my living room and dining room were flipped. I would create a library in there in a heartbeat if that were the case.

Also love the brown and white buffalo-check fabric on the chairs. The fabric appears to be a moire, doesn’t it? This room would look wonderful with some of the small Roe deer heads and/or brown and white transferware on the walls like we saw in this post:Β Decorating with Deer Heads, Antlers, Real and Whimsical. I’m so drawn to that brown/cream combination, have no idea why. Maybe because it’s just such a soothing combination.

Dining Room, Also a Library, with Brown and Cream Buffalo Check Upholstered Chairs

Love this space: the slant of the ceiling, the cozy seating area, the windows that open out.

Sitting Room with Slanted Ceiling


This was probably my favorite room from the Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler site. It’s perfect! I love the little brass lights mounted on the bookshelves. Notice how the furniture in the room feels like it was collected over time. The room feels like it came together naturally, not decorated within an inch of its life. This is the kind of room one could live in forever. It’s truly timeless.

Beautiful Library Painted in a Blue Gray, Perfect for an English Country Home


These rooms from Colefax & Fowler make me think of the rooms I love in the Bunny Williams book, An Affair with a House. Bunny opened her home, Manor House, for a holiday tour a while back. So would have loved that tour! Β The following four images from Bunny’s home were found here.

Doesn’t this room feel like Colefax and Fowler could have designed it? I love it!

Bunny Williams Bedroom


Bunny’s home has a cozy library, too. Β Are you noticing all the brass lamps? I wonder if Bunny has since ripped out that evil brass and sprayed painted it ORB . πŸ˜‰ Kidding! Β If you’ve been reading BNOTP for very long, you know I love quality brass pieces. It makes me happy to see it in the home of one of my favorite designers.

Library of Bunny Williams


Every library needs a cozy fireplace and Bunny’s has one. It’s a good thing I don’t live nearby because if I had attended this tour, they probably would have had to call the authorities to come remove the crazy woman who wouldn’t leave!

Bunny Williams Library


Bunny has a wonderful conservatory. Imagine having a dinner party in this magical space!

Conservatory in Bunny Williams home

I have a fun table to share tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday…see you then!

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  1. This is very beautiful, Susan! I’m glad you shared the tour. I giggled at your brass comment. I actually remembered that you had written about that. I just changed out a shiny brass chandelier. Only, I just toned mine to look like aged brass. Yes, it’s not as trendy as ORB, but it’s what I like so that’s what I did.

    Again, wonderful inspiration photos for me.

    • I love the look of aged brass, too. I also love polished brass, if it’s good quality. I think what happened over the years was the cheap builder brass gave brass a bad name.

  2. Wonderful eye candy! Love the dining room with the cook cases too!

  3. I had the privilege of participating in the Holiday House Tour (including Bunny Williams’ beautiful Falls Village manor house) this past December. Believe it or not, the brass was still evident in the library. The house and barn were utterly amazing!

  4. Love the library look….my dining room is too small too! Just need to find a way to add a little cozy. I know that polished (evil) brass is not trendy but it’s reflective quality is what I like the most. I’d like to think there is some evil brass remaining in some awesomely decorated rooms somewhere…..(sigh).

  5. I love brass, too…the rich aged glowing brass. Yes, I do think there is such a thing as “peer decorating pressure”. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful furnishings and accessories painted to go with the latest trend. Sometimes it’s overdone and sometimes just perfect.
    The pictures are gorgeous & inspiring. I visit you everyday, but seldom comment. I like to just drop in & be amazed at your energy level & good taste!
    Please tell me what ORB stands for. I’ll probably feel stupid for not figuring it out, lol.

  6. Susan–I’m with you–love that cozy traditional British style! I too, have a few evil brass pieces…there are some things that are timeless…brass being one of them. (And fine china…and real linens…and paisley…I could be here all day!)

  7. Is there any reason you can’t flip your living and dining room? I flipped mine just because I wanted mine on the same side of the house I grew up in-it just always felt wrong when I walked in because of that. Since I don’t have a butler’s pantry connecting the kitchen and dining room it was just a matter of choice-maybe 3′ further walk. Love all the pictures and can’t wait to see the new book. Thanks for sharing.

    • I did think long and hard about that once upon a time. But my dining room is right beside the kitchen. When I was doing the small kitchen renovation I did years before I began blogging, I even thought of walling off the doorway and making the dining room a cozy library. But you would have to carry dishes through a short hallway, around the corner, through then entry to get to the living room, which would be the new dining room. I actually saw this done in a home years ago. It was so tempting since the room is so much larger. But I was worried about resale down the road. The only time it’s a real problem is when I have a party and invite 30+ folks. It’s gets crowded in there. I don’t know what the builders were thinking when they gave us the big formal living rooms and tiny dining rooms. This house was built in 1982-83 so you would think they would have stopped that nonsense by then.

  8. Hey Susan!
    Love English Country Style and there certainly was some gorgeous inspiration here! I love brass, have always and will always. Never stopped using it in my house either! I love Charles Faudree with his French Country flair!
    Have a GREAT day!

  9. Brass has class and I LUV IT!! franki

  10. Thanks for the info on Mario Buatta’s book. Will look for it!
    Love the fan shaped decoration above the fireplace in Bunny’s house. What do you suppose it is?
    Could it be a jacquard weave on the buffalo check chairs in the library? Love the checks.
    Real brass should never be painted IMHO. And real wood furniture should only be painted after
    much soul searching…

    • I wonder what it is, too? I can’t really tell from the picture. Faye, I agree on the brass and the wood. I do love to see some pieces painted, just depends on the piece. πŸ™‚

  11. Love the English style too, thanks for the post! The resonance between Williams’ ascetic and that of Colefax and Fowler can partially be linked to Williams’ being raised in Virginia, as was Nancy Lancaster, the American who bought C&F in the 30a or 40s, I think and who promoted and made ubiquitous the English Country Style. Williams and Lancaster were raised in the same ascetic sensibility.



  12. You know – there are a few different design “genres” that I love ( Carpenter Gothic – Cottage (shabby – with lots of roses and white) traditional), but – I think that English Country style encompasses all the styles that I adore…. You and I are “right there” on this one….. this post, and those pictures made my heart race…. I could see myself in any of these spaces (reading – knitting – drinking wine with friends!) Thanks again Susan…..for another wonderful post – and a bright spot in my day.

    • Oh, Maggie…me too! I was just thinking today how much I love cottage design, a cozy mountain cabin and a French country home. I even love some Swedish design. But my fave design will always be English Country. It just feels so comfortable and inviting to my soul.

  13. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    English Country style. *sigh.*

  14. Lovely tour! I enjoy them so much! While I have absolutely no idea what the hats are on, I think that I would probably use an old ladder to create a hat rack, possibly putting a hook at every intersection on both sides. I love hats and have quite a few of my godmother’s as well as a few of my Dad’s. I’m partial to using old ladders around the house for hanging towels, or sideways as a picture frame. I only use one or two as a time but I sure wouldn’t mind one in every room.

  15. Susan, Bunny Williams is one of my all time favorite designers. I had the honor of attending her lecture at the Nashville Antique and Garden Show this past winter. What a treat! She is one of the most personable speakers I’ve ever heard. I admire her all the more now that I’ve actually met her in person. What a talent! Her’s is an amazing story too.
    Looking forward to tomorrow’s table.

  16. Anna Starner says

    I have a friend that swapped her dining room and formal living room. The living room rarely got used and she couldn’t seat everyonei in her small diningroom for family dinners. Now she has a smaller more intimate livingroom that gets used, and a large enough dining room for everyone to eat comfortably.

  17. I love English Country! The libraries look so warm and inviting!!

  18. Dani & cats says

    Hi Susan !!

    thank you so much for “diving” into english Interior !!! I LOVE the scottish / english style ! I`m from Germany and it always was just a “cat`s jump” to go to Britain ! All the history – just breath-taking gorgeous … The houses , castles , gardens you can visit – beautiful & inspiring !!!!You would definitive LOVE that piece on earth too – I`m pretty sure!!!!
    Thank you so much for your always great blog ! So many different themes ! Not a usual blog – I really appreciate for taking the time to show us so many interesting things & places. It keeps me personally moving because I can see I`m not the only one who`s “crazy” to carry 100 something bags of mulch by myself into the garden !
    Have a good night & lots of inspiring dreams !
    P.S. Thank you very much for you prayers for Mr. Teddy, it seems he could save his leg and is now on the road of recovery !

  19. Peggy Thal says

    Beautiful rooms. Reminds me of my grandparents home in New York. Love good brass items. I think they will be coming back. Bronze is my favorite for chandeliers. We have a separate library and just adore it. That is one of the reasons we bought our home. Amazing how the book shelves fill or overflow so quickly. Always rearranging. I like the library dining room idea . It is very clever . Great idea for my sons home. Thanks for sharing ,Susan. ——–With all this rain the weeds are popping up in force here in Virginia. They hide under trees and shrubs and than take over. I have to go and attack them today!

  20. I am learning about Mario Bautta from you! I read the links you attached and he does sound like quite a dapper character πŸ™‚ And, I would imagine fun to spend time with! On the Colefax Fowler link, I looked at those rooms, all nice, but I wondered what was going on in the 7th picture with a water heater in the middle of the room .. until I went back and looked, it is a tube kind of fire place! I don’t get that room!?! Nice windows though. I love looking at all the rooms, that is always fun. Oh, and I like brass too. Seems like when one jumps off the boat everyone follows. That is an expensive jump when everyone will eventually climb back on that boat πŸ™‚

  21. I loved this tour! It makes me want to redecorate!

  22. Lynn Etling says

    Wonderful Susan. American colonial is still my very favorite but I love her pretty more ornate cousin, English country style. Just as pretty but a little less spare. I hear you on the bigger dining room as I am in the same situation, but please don’t switch as I still am eagerly anticipating the completion of that room with the red sofa and built in niches. Be still my heart! Oh and I never gave up on brass. Love the shiny deep patina of a good brass piece. I almost cried the other day when I came across a blog where the writer had proudly painted a lovely cherry Queen Anne slat chair back turquoise. ARRGGHH! I have made peace with the fact that I am no longer “in style” , but then again in style is not synonymous with good taste is it? Again, thank you for your wonderful blog!

  23. ~Susan~
    Love English country also !!! my hubby brought home a magazine with features of Ralph Laurens home in it, and you know his style is so tasteful !!
    I know looking at pictures gets the mind thinking and wanting to redo another room !! I am trying to learn to be content! Will that ever happen??
    Have a super day!

  24. p.s did you ever decide on new curtains for your den ?

    • Paula, I never did. I decided against the ones I was looking at a while back and just haven’t taken the time to look again. I need to do that. I’ve kind of gotten used to seeing it with just shutters, but the room would look better with some fabric at the windows. πŸ™‚ Speaking of RL, I’ve always wanted to create a winter look for my master bedroom that has the RL look to it. Something really cozy for winter.

  25. I so love the style of both Bunny Williams and Mario Buatta…Beautiful pics Susan!

  26. I like the room furniture mentioned in above pictures,specially the room chairs in second pic from the top.


    I find your website absolutely “enchanting”!!
    You are the Rembrandt of home design, and all that is creative.
    Fabulous, just fabulous work. Very impressive.
    Wondering where you purchased the Federal Convex Mirror over bed in one of your bedrooms? I’ve been looking for one in the antique stores. Unfortunately, haven’t found any yet. Perhaps you can make a suggestion.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks so much Susan, appreciate those kind words so much! I have a couple of those mirrors. One of them I found antiquing many many years ago, can’t remember we’re now. The other one I found while own a Christmas home tour in Atlanta. It was a tour of one of the homes belonging to one of the founders of Coca-Cola, I think one of the Woodrow houses if I’m remembering their name correctly. Anyway I have never seen this done before but at the end of the tour they had set up a large room full of antiques that were available for sale. I think local antique shops had brought in their wares. That’s where I purchased the larger convex mirror. It was vintage but I don’t think antique so it was more reasonably priced. You may want to check on eBay, I’m surprised how many antiques I see on there. Antique shops are probably still your best bet for finding a mirror like that although you may find more modern versions if you Google for them. I’m just not sure.

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