Some styles of decorating have a longer shelf life than others. One of the most durable is what has come to be known as English Country Style, which works just as well in a city apartment or suburban home as it does in a rectory or manor house.
We may recognize an interior as archetypally English, but putting a finger on exactly what makes it so can be tricky. One of the strengths of English style is that it isn’t prescriptive. In fact, quite the opposite. It is relaxed, laissez-faire, and endlessly adaptable—all reasons, no doubt, why it has enjoyed such longevity. You may know it when you see it, but what are its essential ingredients? In Perfect English Style, Ros Byam Shaw looks at a range of rooms with a strong English feel to them. As it happens, almost all are in England, although this is a look that travels the world, from the Americas to the Antipodes, still predominantly English in flavor even when spiced with foreign ingredients. She explores the main rooms of a house, their characteristics and furnishings, and how they achieve that mix of comfort, informality, and visual charm that is the hallmark of English style. Ros also homes in on specifics: the qualities of patina, the important role of fabrics, how to buy and include antique and vintage furnishings, and how a collection, whether of pebbles or 18th-century glass, adds individuality and character.