Perfectly imperfect. Warm and welcoming. Full of life and whimsy. Yes, we’re talking about you. But also English country cottage design style.
This unique and storied design style is just that — storied. It’s a chance for your home to tell a story. Not a fancy one, but a fanciful one. Something fresh and fragrant but also lived in and worn to its own unique character. One with the coziness of a fireside and the brightness of a flower garden.
Let’s take a stroll through the pages of English cottage design style today.
We’ll explore more about what it is and what it isn’t. Then to help you find your own “inner English,” we’ll talk through the key ingredients in terms of colors, textures, and patterns with an emphasis on how to achieve those elements in the upholstery fabrics you choose. And finally, we’ll look just a bit beyond the fabrics at some other features of this decor style we’re particularly fond of.
So fix yourself a cup of tea, and let’s begin.
Getting To Know English Country Cottage Design Style
So what is the English country cottage design style? Good question. What comes to mind when you think of a cottage perched in the English countryside? Likely you imagine it nestled in lush green fields set against grey, perhaps drizzly skies. The exterior is stone and exposed wood. And a wisp of smoke drifts from a chimney. (Does that sound about right so far?)
Step inside, and you’re wrapped in warmth — both literally and visually. The grey outside is gently but definitively offered a counterpoint with soft playful colors and patterns full of life. Walls are adorned with artwork both traditional, eclectic, and personal. There’s nothing new and contemporary here. But neither does it feel old. It feels vintage and intentional.
Furniture is traditional in style and comfortable in design. Each piece seems to say, “I’m their favorite.” Each clearly intentionally well-chosen and well-loved. The result is that despite all the colors and mixed-and-matched feel, it doesn’t feel cluttered. It feels homey. And wherever possible, there are ample piles of throw pillows and blankets to welcome and warm.
While it can whisper of boho, farmhouse, and even maximalism design styles, ultimately, it strikes a different note. An unpretentious and unapologetic note of personality that says none of this is by accident, and I don’t care if it all matches and “goes.” In short, it’s a design style that says this is what home feels like to me — welcome in.
Think the cottage from the rom-com classic The Holiday — not a real home but a really great example of the style. Or take a virtual stroll through this collection of inspiring country cottage design examples.
Your Country Cottage Fabric Colors, Textures, And Patterns Quick Guide
Having said all that, it will come as no surprise that hard and fast rules are not a feature of the English country cottage design style. The reason is that it’s intended to reflect what warmth, welcome, and alive feel like to you. However, there are colors, textures, and patterns that prove consistently useful for — and are often found in — English country-style homes.
Soft. That’s the key to color choices for this design approach. In everything from walls to furniture, go with softer shades of whatever colors you choose. Not to say you can’t go deep as well, but the point is to use shades that comfort and calm, that feel like shades you’d want to settle into for a spell, or shades that lift and bring a sunny airiness to a space.
The colors themselves lean earthy. Yes, that means earth tones like soft browns, whites, greens, and blues. (Like oak chenille, porcelain tweed, emerald velvet, or ocean blue twill.) But also the colors that grow from the earth, like mauves, pinks, yellows, and more. (Shades like a lilac slub, pale pink cotton, and honey chenille.) Soft, airy, and inviting.
This is one of the most playful aspects of English cottage design. Imagine napping on a cold winter day beneath a pile of blankets and quilts. It’s a richly rewarding and snuggly snooze not just under that weight and warmth but the various textures too. That’s how to approach your upholstery choices as well.
Textures dance with textures. A bedroom might have a headboard in tweed and a duvet covered in velvet with a cotton quilt, a woven throw blanket, and pillows dressed in chenille and silk. Or a sofa might be slipcovered in duck fabric paired with pillows in microsuede and jacquard. Just be intentional about the choices you make and choose what you love the look and the feel of the most.
Finally, patterns. This layer is fascinating. In addition to that quintessential image of an English country cottage itself, beautiful gardens full of color and life are absolutely inextricably tied to an English cottage. But it’s cold and rainy in England. Like a lot.
Not to be deterred, the English have taken to bringing the garden inside with playful and colorful patterns. Florals, heirlooms, plaid, and more are right at home. Again, not cluttered, but in the same way you might approach a garden and decide to add color or shapes here or there to achieve a feeling or a particular experience.
A few of our favorites include meadow floral linen, deep green heirloom brocade, golden wheat plaid tweed, and this vintage blue and white Wedgewood classic. And for further inspiration, check out these examples from decorator and blogger Eva Contreras with Café Design.
More Ways To Get An English Country Design Style All Your Own
As we wrap things up, let’s look beyond fabrics. Because as much fun as you can have to pick the right fabrics for your new English country cottage design style (with all the help you need here for you anytime), there’s even more fun to be had with some of the other elements of this vibe.
First, something random. One often-used piece — thanks to the coziness and function it offers — is a tufted ottoman in the main living area. Make one of your own with this DIY. When approaching the rest of the decor, it really comes back to the defining guiding principles of the style. Namely, make it warm and welcoming and make it your own.
For many cottage design homes, that means things like loads of art on the walls, both professional and more personal — including family photos. It can also mean walls of books in areas with comfy seating. In the kitchen, try vintage dishware showcased on shelves rather than tucked away.
And, speaking of vintage. Choose the furniture you love, and don’t worry if the wood looks a bit worn or the furniture looks a bit well-loved. Well-loved is precisely what we’re going for. And on that note, here’s raising a cup of tea to you and your soon-to-be even more well-loved home.