How to Transform Your Home Into an Elegant English Manor
Who doesn’t want to live on a vast English estate? Who could say no to the rich mahogany furniture, the sumptuous brocades and plush velvet fabrics, the gleaming silver and delicate bone china? Who doesn’t watch shows like “Downton Abbey,” “Upstairs, Downstairs,” “The Crown” and similar period dramas and think: If only my house looked like that!
Well, not everyone can be guaranteed an English manor house — but that doesn’t mean your current home can’t look and feel like one. Here are some decorating tips to give your home the lordly atmosphere of an English estate.
The Color Palette
The color palette of a space greatly influences how the space feels, which means colors have a significant affect on design. It’s safe to say that English manors rarely use flashy or modern colors; instead, they tend toward neutral palettes that drawn inspiration from nature.
Instead of stark white and black or bright pops of color, which is generally en vogue in interior design, you should opt for lighter and earthier color palettes that include creams, browns, soft pinks and greens and rich blues. In truth, you shouldn’t mix too many colors into one space because you don’t want to make a room feel too busy. Instead, the colors should be calming. Fortunately, in manor homes, it is common for different rooms to have vastly different palettes, to give each space its own, unique atmosphere and to allow you to play with color around your home.
Materials and Textures
Perhaps more important than the colors in your home are the materials and textures. While different period dramas take place in different periods, the most common depictions of manor homes focus on the Edwardian era, between 1900 and 1930, when the British aristocracy is just beginning to decline. Edwardian interiors were an exciting mix of formal and informal; they used lush, rich materials like velvet and mahogany as well as overly ornate styles of baroque and rococo — but they strove to create welcoming, uplifting spaces as opposed to the cold and near-hostile interior design of the Victorian era.
Wood paneling and embossed floral wallpaper are excellent ways to add Edwardian texture to your rooms without committing to large, expensive Edwardian furniture. You should also opt for heavy draperies in a lighter shade of velvet, damask or brocade fabric. You can add more texture with an oriental rug and copper or iron finishes on light fixtures and fireplaces.
Details, Details, Details
In interior design — regardless of your inspiration — it is important to get the details just right. You can choose the perfect wallpaper and flooring, but if you can’t carry through your theme in your decorative details, your design will fall flat. Here are some critical details to hit when it comes to Edwardian style:
- Embellishments. Fringe, tassels and other trimmings are key for almost every item in your manor room. You can buy fringe at craft stores and hot glue it to the edges of lamp shades, and you should drape tassels over your curtains, your furniture and more.
- Finery. The owners of English manor homes wanted to display their wealth as much as possible. Instead of hiding your wedding china in a box in the garage, you should display it and any other expensive heirloom you own. China cabinets, display shelves and other furniture can be useful.
- Books and stationary. In almost every room of a manor home, you will find books. Build-in bookshelves are best, but you can decorate with books on tables, too. You might even splurge on Downton Abbey stationery, so you can participate in the Edwardian art of letter writing.
- Indoor plants. One modern trend that was just gaining steam in the Edwardian period was decorating with plants. Specifically, manor homes were filled with large, full palms, which seemed incredibly exotic in cold, dreary England. You can fill your home with other hothouse plants, like anthurium, ficus and bird of paradise.
Though minimalism has been in style for the better part of a decade, most everyone is looking forward to a new and exciting way to decorate their homes. If you love watching English period dramas and admiring the intricately adorned rooms, you should consider taking inspiration from English manor homes of the Edwardian era. The relaxing color palettes, the sumptuous fabrics and the fascinating details make this design choice fun and beautiful, even if you don’t own an English country manor.