Of all the decorating trends that have been in vogue over the last 50 years – be it Scandi, Minimalism or Industrial – none has been as powerful or as enduring as that of the English Country House.
Exported all over the world, it’s a near indeterminable alchemy that informally blends elements such as mixing brown furniture with contemporary objects, layers of pattern, textiles, kilims, ikat lampshades and comfortable sofas.
There are, thankfully, few rules. It’s a broad church of tastes that, with every new generation, mixes traditional and contemporary touches – whether that be blocks of colour, modern furniture, striking paintings and highly decorative lighting — all held together under the wide umbrella of the modern English country look.
Brought up in Iran and Switzerland before moving to the UK and then working at Sotheby’s, Alidad has a deep appreciation for history and can talk eloquently of aesthetics from Baroque to neo-Classicism, Chinoiserie to Art Deco. Although Alidad eschews fashion, he believes in ‘timeless elegance and matured nonchalance’. Studio Alidad is his ‘ready-to-wear’ arm, which is aimed at a younger audience or those on a tighter budget.
020–7384 0121; www.alidad.com
The highly regarded interior-design arm of Mr Pentreath’s architecture practice typically combines a strong use of colour and Classical details with simple patterns and an eclectic mix of furniture and lighting from different periods.
020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com
Like many of the most accomplished decorators, Colin Orchard cut his teeth at Sybil Colefax & John Fowler, where he led a design team. Since 1989, he’s run his own business, where he works on projects that criss-cross the Atlantic. He’s spent much of the past decade working on the exquisite Ballyfin in Ireland.
020–7351 5501; email@example.com
Exquisitely made joinery features strongly in interior projects by Linley, the decorating arm of Lord Snowdon’s furniture business. The in-house team of interior architects, designers and consultants works on residential and commercial projects all over the world.
020–7730 7300; www.davidlinley.com
With an eye for integrating serious art collections into private homes – a recent project placed 20th-century art in a Tudor-era mansion – Douglas Mackie is skilled at creating stately yet cosy spaces. After studying architecture at Cambridge, he trained with legendary decorator Tessa Kennedy.
020–7487 3295; www.douglasmackie.com
The interior decorator and natural paint pioneer studied fine art at the University of East Anglia before joining David Mlinaric’s practice. Later, he worked with artist and picture restorer Alec Cobbe before setting up his business in Herefordshire, where he specialises in listed houses.
01544 388535; www.edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk
Emma and her team specialise in executing a relaxed and modern country style, which is achieved through a singular approach to lighting, texture, colours and the flow of rooms that becomes the main focus of each project. Work varies from large family houses to new-build town houses in Bath, London apartments and coastal homes in the Channel Islands.
01249 783087; www.simshilditch.com
The fact that Guy Goodfellow and his team refused to be pigeonholed into a specific style explains why clients with multiple homes repeatedly ask him to decorate them all. There’s an underlying current of Englishness to each design, but, from there, it can go in any direction. He also sells his own collection of fabrics and wallpapers.
020–7349 0728; www.guygoodfellow.com
With a Classical aesthetic and a fleet of clients in both the UK and America, Henrietta is known for her deep knowledge and passion for country-house interiors and architecture (she studied history of art in Florence and Paris). Based in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, she’s also a director of HRW Antiques.
01993 811887; www.spencerchurchilldesigns.com
Co-founder of VSP Interiors, Henriette von Stockhausen uses her background in antiques to create rooms that are classically inspired yet colourful and eclectic, blending a mix of old and new furniture and decorative pieces. Based in Dorset, and with a passion for the countryside, she’s popular with families moving out of London and establishing a country house.
07787 574192; www.vspinteriors.com
Although he professes to have no house style, this is a designer who certainly isn’t afraid to make a statement. Colour features strongly in his schemes – perhaps something to do with the fact that he hails from New Zealand. Abstract art is a major feature.
020–7584 7185; www.hughleslie.com
A name synonymous with classic English interior design, Jane Churchill has been known for her deft ability to combine traditional and contemporary elements since she established the business in 1975.
020–7730 8564; www.janechurchillinteriors.co.uk
The go-to practice for clients looking for luxurious, elegant design. The multi-disciplinary team covers architecture, interior design, building and project management and is based in London and Cheshire. This highly creative design practice led by Janine Stone and her team of 50 professionals predominantly focuses on private clients and their town houses and apartments in central London and country houses in the Home Counties and further afield, including international projects.
020–3797 7256; www.janinestone.com
With an interior-design practice and eponymous shop on Belgravia’s Elizabeth Street, Joanna Wood brings Classical style, a well-honed eye for practical details and enormous energy to her projects. Currently tasked with decorating the American ambassador’s residence in London, she can turn her hand to anything from Soho penthouses to classic country houses.
020–7730 0693; www.joannawood.com
An interior architect and designer, John Evans’s expertise lies in spatial planning and improving the flow of interior space in his projects. Birmingham-based (and with an office in London), his projects have a contemporary bent and range from new-build country houses to luxury ski chalets.
020–7252 2392; www.johnevansdesign.com
With showrooms in Walton Street and Qatar (she grew up in the Middle East and has lived in the Far East), Katharine Pooley’s projects include barn conversions, country houses and castles in Scotland, in which she creates fresh, contemporary country spaces. Last year, she published Journey By Design.
020–7584 3223; www.katharinepooley.com
Established by Michael Keech and Graham Green in 2002, the practice specialises in bespoke furniture, unusual finishes and what they describe as a signature ‘Modern Deco’ approach to interior design. A good choice for someone looking for a finish that’s both elegant and masculine.
020–7351 5701; www.keechgreen.com
A Wiltshire-based interior designer (who’s handily married to Canadian-born architect John Comparelli), Lucy Elworthy has a reputation for blending period and contemporary pieces to create stylish, comfortable country houses. Formerly Decoration Editor of House & Garden, she creates schemes that are characterised by a discreet use of colour and pattern.
07957 693246; www.lucyelworthy.co.uk
Antique dealer, furniture designer and decorator, Max’s skill is for creating graphic, elegant and distinctive spaces that look as if they’ve evolved over the years – it’s a style that follows very much in the vein of the greats, including Christopher Gibbs and Robert Kime.
01962 791124; www.maxrollitt.com
Former director of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler Sarah Morris joined forces with established antique dealer James McWhirter in 2005. The result is a practice that marries the traditional English country-house style with carefully chosen antiques. The pair worked on the refurbishment of Dumfries House for The Prince of Wales and projects range from town houses to country houses and villas abroad.
020–7349 2575; www.mcwhirtermorris.com
A blue-chip firm of decorators, founded in the 1960s by David Mlinaric. The partners work on an extensive range of projects for private clients, often with extensive art collections. The firm has offices in Paris and New York and projects take members to all the (most glamorous) corners of the globe.
020–7730 9072; http://mhzlondon.com
The decorating legend, who started her career shadowing the legendary John Fowler and collaborating on the interiors of Annabel’s in their first incarnation. She also has hugely successful collections of fabric and wallpaper and owns an eponymous boutique in Walton Street, SW3, and a showroom at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, SW10.
020–7225 1011; http://ninacampbellinteriors.com
Clients appointing Paolo Moschino will most likely be looking to introduce the company’s signature luxurious finishes and good art to their London, Paris or New York homes, but the contemporary designer can equally bring its distinctive, Continental flair to country houses. The Belgravia-based shop makes and sells furniture, fabrics, lighting and antiques.
020–7730 8623; www.nicholashaslam.com
A South African-born interior designer who champions the ‘undecorated’ look and whose guiding motto is ‘who cares if the colours don’t match?’. Rooms are full of colour, pattern and interesting pieces of furniture. She also designs her own range of fabrics that, together with a collection of decorative accessories, are available to view at Lorfords Antiques, Langton Street, SW10.
01547 560460; www.pennymorrison.com
Working from her full-service interiordesign, architecture and project-management studio in Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, Pippa creates fresh and contemporary rooms that sit happily alongside exposed historical features – as demonstrated in her book published last year: Twenty First Century Cotswolds.
01865 595470; www.pippapatondesign.co.uk
Multi-tasking interior designer and journalist Rita Konig specialises in timeless and elegant designs that mix and deliberately don’t match, with charming and always distinctive results. Although she’s based in London, a lot of projects take her to the USA, where she used to live and work.
020–3735 7280; http://ritakonig.com
A quiet and unassuming man with impeccable credentials and unimpeachable taste, Robert Kime is, unquestionably, one of the great English decorators of today. With a passion for antiques (visit his showroom in Pimlico Road for evidence), he has an extensive collection of fabrics to draw upon and his interiors encapsulate all that’s individual, off-beat, informal and interesting about country-house design.
020–7831 6066; www.robertkime.com
An absolute master of the restrained and more disciplined approach that is, nevertheless, a long way from Minimalism, Rose Uniacke brings her deep knowledge of antiques and razor-sharp aesthetic eye to her projects. She’s a favourite with A-list clients who want rooms that are comfortable as well as stylishly curated.
020–7730 7050; http://roseuniacke.com
Founded in 2013 by Nicole Salvesen and Mary Graham, this thriving practice quickly gained a reputation for a style that is achieved by layering textures, pattern and colours and juxtaposing antiques with contemporary pieces. Both have young families and young clients to boot.
020–7967 7777; www.salvesengraham.com
After moving to its new premises on Pimlico Road, this long-established English firm continues to go from strength to strength. Run by eight directors, who all have their different style and expertise, but channel Fowler’s belief – chiefly, that a room should be ‘well behaved but free from any rules’.
020–7493 2231; www.sibylcolefax.com
With various projects for the Soho House group and, more recently, Beaverbrook, Surrey’s latest country-house hotel, under her belt, Susie Atkinson knows how to decorate chic, comfortable spaces. She has a particular passion for craftsmanship.
020–7384 0700; http://susieatkinson.com
Based in smart, Belgravia offices – a conveniently short taxi ride for her many Mayfair-based clients – Philippa Thorp’s practice covers all bases and will take projects from the ground up, including not just the interiors, but also the design of furniture and fittings to suit each room.
020–7235 7808; www.thorp.co.uk
Emily Todhunter and Kate Earle work on projects that range from country houses to hotels (Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons), yachts, nightclubs and ski chalets. Designs are grown-up, but with quirks – a glitter ball here, a splash of colour there. They also have a collection of lighting, wallpaper and rugs.
020–7349 9999; http://todhunterearle.com
Another New Zealand-born designer, Veere Grenney creates projects dotted around the world. His designs are immaculately tailored and respond carefully to the architecture, climate and culture of the buildings.
020–7351 7170; www.veeregrenney.com
A Birmingham-based studio that has lots of experience working on country houses in the Cotswolds and Warwickshire as well as ski chalets in the Alps and holiday homes in the Caribbean. With a resolutely contemporary bent, it has a meticulous attention to detail.
0121–622 7366; www.wilkinsonbeven.com
List compiled by Arabella Youens
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