British Style Bonanza

Inside Downton AbbeyBetween the mania for Downton Abbey and the popularity of Will and Kate, it’s clear British style is making a comeback. It’s true in fashion – think of the 600,000 visitors who saw McQueen at the Met or the fashionistas watching Kate’s every move. I LOVED her here in Brit designer Alice Temperley at the recent War Horse premiere in London.

Kate Middleton wearing Alice Temperley lace dress at War Horse premiere in London

But it’s the realm of design that I think holds the most fascination. Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle, where the show is filmed, in mind when he wrote the series. He said he wanted a house “which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period.” Perhaps with the last few years of economic restraint, people have been looking to their homes for a reassuring sense of comfort and security. And the English country house certainly evokes all that and more. The trend for brands to find heritage shows an interest in history and there’s a much appreciated sense of civility that comes with all the down upholstery and wood patina.

Highclere, the house used in Downton Abbey

The saloon, above, and smoking room, below, at Highclere show the rooms as they are when not filming.

Highclere, the house where Downton Abbey is shot

So many today emulate this style, but not many do it as well as British designer David Mlinaric, whose experience encompasses impeccable restorations of private and public historic places as well as modern commissions.

The owner of Luggala in County Wicklow, Ireland wanted it to be as it had always been. I love the hand blocked grisaille Gothic wallpaper in the hall/dining room.

Luggala in Ireland, designed by David MlinaricThis pretty “Sweet Pea” bedroom was newly made when redecorating Waddesdon Manor for Lord Rothschild ten years ago. You would never know it wasn’t part of the original house.

Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild house with interior design by David Mlinaric

I would be very happy to spend some time in this study at Henbury Hall in Cheshire. This Palladian villa was built new in the 1980s. What you can’t see in this shot, completing the picture, are the stamped green gauffrage velvet curtains and marble fireplace.

Henbury Hall in Cheshire, England with interior design by David Mlinaric

But Mlinaric also shows how you can successfully mix old and new to great effect in this studio flat in a period town house in London.

Flat in London with interior design by David Mlinaric

and in partner Hugh Henry’s flat in Earls Court

Hugh Henry flat in London with interior design by David MlinaricWhether you want to complete a room in full English country style or just add a piece, there is a marvelous auction coming up at Doyle New York. With wonderful selections at a wide variety of price points, there are many options for adding a bit of Brit to your home.

One of the highlights of the auction is this Regency painted and parcel gilt console

Period Regency console in Doyle New York auction

And this pair of George III mahogany library armchairs

George III library chairs in Doyle New York auction

While not inexpensive, this charming George III painted quadruple chairback settee circa 1800 is not bad at a $3,000 – $5,000 estimate.

George III painted bench in Doyle New York auction

And more regency pieces with these pretty painted and parcel gilt armchairs from c. 1810 at a very reasonable $600-$800 estimate. You’d be hard pressed to buy them new at that price.

Regency gilt armchairs in Doyle New York auctionAccessories are an important part of English decor. These lovely George Edwards bird studies would be lovely with French mattes.

George Edwards prints in Doyle New York auctionOr you could serve tea with this beautiful 19th century English porcelain dessert set.

Derby porcelain dessert service at Doyle New York auction

So whether you know what a weekend is or not, having a little of the Downton Abbey spirit at home, is a good thing.

25 thoughts on “British Style Bonanza

  1. I know that I sound like a Pollyanna but I loved this post especially (it seems like I am saying that an awful lot these days but it is true). I didn’t know of this designers work and think it gorgeous.

    Stacey, I know that I have remarked on your extensive knowledge before and I am curious as to how that you aquired it. I know that you were an art director, but before? Would love to know more if you can. My email is If you are too busy, no worries!

    All the best from Provence,

  2. Would love to add a bit of “abbey” here on the farm but the ceilings won’t allow it… I’m entranced with the Edwardian period and I bet we’ll start seeing some influences in fashion, too!

  3. I do love “cousin Violette’s ” home the best! So happy I got my husband hooked this season…cause I can’t get enough anglo-style in my world!

  4. This post is a classic, Stacey. Just wonderful!! The ‘sweet pea’ bedroom at Waddesdon and smoking room at Highclere, with its ‘worn in’ look remind me so much of a castle a good friend rented for 18 of us years ago, in Scotland. When we arrived – to all of its perfect country glory he said, “this place is a dump.” And of course, we all laughed. An award-winning post!!! ox

  5. Great post. I really want this English porcelain dessert set. I remember when you found the wonderful china at the church fair this summer before me.. You add such elegance to our lives with your carefully chosen photographs and the stories that tie it all together. I look forward to my visit here every day

    Dr. Pat

  6. I find myself watching each episode of Downton Abbey twice, once for the story and once to examine the interiors. This post was such a treat, interesting and no DVR required!

  7. Stacey, I absolutely love this post! With “Downton Abbey” in our lives again, your photos and thoughts on British style couldn’t be more relevant. I love all the images you included on British Country Houses and it is a style I have always enjoyed. Maybe it’s because I have read so many novels set in England. And of course the house and its interiors in “Downton.” People love the show and I think they are becoming very interested in the Edwardian period, the clothes and the house, as well the many customs and conventions that the show is about. Everyone wants to know about the entail, is it still a law in England? So many things to think about, and those sisters, what will happen to them? Thanks for showing us these lovely images of British style. I was so happy the show won a Golden Globe. And I love that bench!

  8. I also think what you said about people looking to their homes as a reassuring place of comfort and security during these unsettled times is very true. In addition to the bench and the tea set, I also want the bird studies!

  9. I think the DA spirit is
    especially loved at this time
    of year, when we are all about
    hunkering down in the nest,
    being cozy and spending more
    time with those items that
    make us truly feel happy and
    “at home.” As a DA and British
    country fan, I LOVED this post;
    thank you for writing it!

    xx Suzanne

  10. So glad these things are becoming popular again after a lifetime of being obsessed with them and in particular, Mlinaric. I had never seen his partners apt before and I have to say those 2 images left me very intrigued – just beautiful!

  11. Such a gorgeous post, Stacey! I’m all for a some British style. My little grandmother was born in Canada to British parents – family rumor is that she was aristocracy, he was a trapeze artist, they met when he preformed for Court, they ran off together and married, she was disowned and they moved to Canada! Truth or lore, Grandma Rosie was a committed loyalist to Britain and the Crown. She would have loved Downton – especially Lady Violet – and I think of her whenever I watch. I even believe that I spotted her heirloom china, which belongs to my mother now, in one of the tea scenes at Crawley House. So a little British style in my every day is my little tribute to her. Thanks for such a lovely post, and for making me think of Grandma Rosie this morning!

  12. Thanks for this super post!! I’ve been waiting for this style and French country design to come back to the forefront. In fact, I have a pair of framed Catesby/Edwards parrot engravings in inventory–they have super attitudes and the English Imari tea service is also great. Mary

  13. Kate absolutely wowed in that long Alice Temperley dress! And, Brit style does seem to be infectious with the Downtown Abbey fan following (which I am happily a part of now, thanks to you!).

    xo Elizabeth

  14. Unfortunately until last week I had never heard of the show Downton Abbey since I don’t watch much TV. I do love British style and those needlepoint armchairs for sale are right up my lane. Loved seeing the interiors, so glam!


  15. I am in love with anything British. I am also overly enthralled with Downton Abbey. I can’t get enough of the good thing. Don’t plan on missing one episode. This is just what PBS needed. So happy about that too.
    q, these rooms are so gorgeous, and the English pieces are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Great post Q….we are definitely in an Anglophile state of mind this week aren’t we? I think Kate Middleton’s Alice Temperley look is one of her best….certainly one of my faves. Love all of your interior shots here, great selection! xxKelly

  17. Well, with Kate and Downtown Abbey, the brits have absolutely captured my attention. Seeing all of these marvelous details you hightlighted has really hooked me. Let’s hope this optimism and beauty helps to start turning things around. Just love that coral room with the red carpet. xo ebh

  18. this massive anglophile enjoyed every word and image in this post.
    naturally to me, british country house interiors never go out of style, it is just that others don’t always agree. so happy to see this classic style reaching to the forefront again.
    and do not forget the olympics, Britannia is reigning once again!

  19. Stacey,
    We are o often on the same page! I have an English Country/ Downton Abbey post planned for my friends over at Hooker Furniture. Their Primrose Hill collection can help folks “get the look”.
    Love the bench by the way!
    Best, Lynn

  20. Heart flutters! I see the influx of navy and coral in our future, via the Imari porcelain patterns. Looking forward to reading Lynn’s post at the Hooker Furniture site, too. Primrose Hill was one of my favorite collections at the High Point Market when I featured them as a Style Spotter.

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