Sunday, April 29, 2012

Elements of English Style

What is it I like so much about the English design aesthetic?  Can I define it?  British design elements include much of what I also loved in Pennsylvania: early antiques, beautiful gardens, fireplaces when ever possible, kitchens used for cooking (not just for "show"), beloved pets and animals, warm lighting, faded fabrics.  All these elements contribute to the warmth and coziness that affected me long ago and that still do today as I revisit them in some of my favorite books and magazines.  Seeing these images again as I blog about them is like revisiting old friends.  Come meet some with me.

Here the way the light shines through the leaded window, the antique rocker and its pillow, the fireplace and its paneling speak so much to"English-ness."
               (This and the following images are from English Country Interiors, by Hugh Lander, 1989)

Note the aged beam over the hearth and sweet cupboard to the right.

While this room lacks a fireplace, it has a great clock and great lighting.  Could the desk could have been a sight for the penning of Jane Eyre or Emma?  Sunlight streams into the room behind and onto the beautiful tile floors.

I always wanted to paint this room - with the cat peering up the stair case.  What does he see, we wonder, and what is beyond the partially opened door?  Such an intriguing room with great stone floors.

Here the room's spareness is as important as the period pieces in it.

Light from the deep window highlights the blue and white transfer ware china and the very beautiful cupboard door.

This kitchen may not appeal to "kitchens-must-be-white" people, but I love the antique cupboard and stove, the stone wall, and even the cabbage and leeks on the table.

Dark I know, but the perhaps Heathcliff lived here.  Certainly the cat on the early settle looks warm and comfortable.

And now onto the restored Oxfordshire coach house of Anne and Hugh Millais which appeared in Cote Ouest's, Autumn 1995 issue. Since I organize my saved cooking and deorating magazines by the month, I put each of them on my reading pile and peruse them again as the year progresses.  When October appears on the calendar, this magazine appears on my reading pile, and it never fails to delight me, perhaps because it has so many of the English elements discussed above.

Think these are horse people?

I believe this is Hugh Millais and his horse peering in at Anne.

Why can't my mud room be leathery and tweedy and "spaniel-y?"  The mudroom of my English fantasy house will be.

For several years I tried to duplicate this charming bouquet of dried orange slices.  I just know it has that citrusy fragrance so great around the holidays.  When my orange slices rotted instead of dried, I gave up, but my fantasy English house will have just such a bouquet.

The Millais's very English drawing room.

And most fabulous of all - their kitchen complete with a tweed jacket on the chair.  It's a kitchen to live in and to cook in, not just to look at.  I've been waiting a long time to show you this one.  Hope you love it too.

Anne and Hugh are a successful design team, evidenced by their special work room.

Guest room.

To find out more about this restored coach house and the couple who restored it, I googled Anne and Hugh Millais and sadly discovered Hugh had died in 2009.   Further googling led me to the website of photographer, Andreas von Einsiedel (, and to the images below of the Millais home watermarked for protection, but so beautiful still.

I think I love Hugh.  He looks like such a kind man who loves to cook and who loves his animals! Hope you enjoyed pictures of his lovely home.  I love it for so many reasons but their kitchen especially speaks to me.

Now to a brief view of English gardens for Loi and all we garden lovers.  The first images are from Clive Nichols's photographs of Nicole Vesian's garden in France.  OK, so they are not of English an garden, but this garden is so beautiful and Clive Nichols is so English.

Vesian's garden has that serenity that boxwoods and stone and no flowers can give.

The next two gardens are English and are also so serene.
The English Cottage Garden by Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson
The English Cottage Garden by Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson

Whew!!  This was a long post, especially so because I accidentally deleted it twice when it was almost complete each time.  Grrrr.  (Ever happen to anyone else out there?)  I hope I was able to show you what I believe to be elements so common to English decor. Now, dear reader, it is time to stand, go outside and work on our own gardens on this very sunny day.  Enjoy yours.
Till next time in England,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Clearer, but Sometimes "Separated" England

I may have mentioned before that my children are my harshest critics.  Yesterday, my daughter mentioned that she checked in on the blog and the pictures were blurry.  All of you were nice enough not to tell me how blurry the photos were, but my children tell the unvarnished, brutal truth.  Also today, my son who helps me join two pages of magazines into one complained that the result looked cobbled and amateurish.  (He insists that I need photo shop.  I insist that it is too much money.)  Hope today's blog will be clearer for everyone and not appear too unprofessional, especially for we-all-know-who .

Undaunted, I visit some lovely English hall ways and staircases.  Only the English seem to have homes large enough to accommodate these beauties, again from English Country Homes By Mary Gilliatt (1986).

Not to offend my bird-lover friends, but if I could have "photoshopped-out" the birdcage I would have.  Otherwise this is a great hall way.

So beautiful, so English.

Less grand, but no less charming.  I'm a real sucker for brick floors.

Also a sucker for leaded glass windows.

I would consider this room a den, but Gillatt explains it as a "living hall...very much a feature of grand houses in the nineteenth century."  Inviting - whatever we name it.

The master of all that he surveys.

Also a sucker for paintings and tall case clocks and wide-board wood floors.

I know all of these images are not about kitchens, but they are very English and very beautiful.  I just had to include them.

Onto an article that I tore out of a magazine long ago.  My apologies to whichever magazine published these beautiful pictures because I never noted its name. It is the home of Jonathan Vickers, a quirky individual and collector of - well, you will see.  His home in Kent is named the Old Vickarage, perhaps a play on his name.  Vickers, like Stanley Falconer from an earlier posting, also worked as a designer with the Colefax and Fowler firm.  Later in his life, when he partnered in an antique business, he still remained friends with John Fowler.

The dining room above, formerly the kitchen, still retains the black leaded stove.  The table is stained with a green varnish - a bit "quirky."

Below is a collection of his creamware jelly moulds.  Enjoy these photos - unfortunately they are about as kitchen-y as I get today.  The lemon and banana are Chinese carved ivory.

More of his blue and white collection.  The article mentions an anecdote about a night that Vickers entertained - one of the guests commented on how beautiful a piece of his china was, and Vickers generously gave it to her.  The next day, he asked for it back.

Below is Vickers's sitting room, the walls of which are painted with a trailing design of Kentish hops.
(This is the kind of joining of separate images that drives my son crazy.)

The landing in the Old Vicarage.

Very Colefax and Fowler.

Vickers's Chinese bedroom.

Another of those separations that annoy my son, but until I buy photoshop, he's going to have to just get over it!  Hope you can enlarge the smaller images on your computers.  The bedroom on the top left is so sweet.  Actually, I love all these rooms.
Thus ends the home images of Jonathan Vickers.  Sadly, he died young and the contents of most of his rooms have been dispersed.  "Such is the ephemeral nature of interior decoration."

Onto the last home for today, a very British one with a very contemporary feel.  All photos are from House and Garden, May 2006.  See what you think. 

The exterior is very beautifully what you might expect in Sussex, England.  (Adore the name "Sussex")

But inside, it reminds me of my posting on Lauren Sara's home from "Still in Pennsylvania but forward Twenty Years."  See what you think.

Unlike Sara, this owner uses few antiques in her home.  Only the beams reveal the age of the house.

Eleanora Cunietti, one of the home's designers.

Gatehouse of the home.  Through it, we see a glimpse of a "well-tended" garden.

Again only the beams reveal its age.

And finally, my favorite room in the house - the kitchen, of course.  Don't you just love the chandelier?

Another chapter on England's influence on my aesthetic ends, but more is to come.  And you thought my Pennsylvania influence was endless!
Till next time,