Thursday, July 19, 2007

English Country Kitchen

This morning we are experiencing a reprieve from summer's heat. Gentle breezes and a few sprinkles make a day that's reminiscent of spring or autumn. Golden raisin cinnamon rolls made with coconut milk, brown sugar, and vanilla are raising on the counter top. While I wait to put them in the oven, it's the perfect time to think about kitchen decor and what makes each style unique. Yesterday I posted ideas that I'd found and shared with my friend, Linda, for her French country kitchen. It got me wondering about other styles, especially English country. What makes English country unique? The first things that come to mind are laces, teapots and teacups, porcelain, and lots of pretty flowers. Am I right? Let's see! The ideas posted here originate from the book Kitchens, Imaginative Tips & Sensible Advice for Decorating, Equipping & Enjoying by Pat Ross.

1. English kitchens are known for their blue and white china. Not only for tabletop, but for wall decor as well. Antique dessert plates, even if chipped and worn, can be hung over a door jam, stove, or other display areas. Drama can be created by using large dinner plates. Smaller plates can fill in the gaps, creating a lovely effect. Be sure to hang them with sturdy plate hangers of the appropriate size and strength.

2. Pine in a well-scrubbed look says English country. Both plain or color-washed pine are acceptable for this look; knots and graining add appeal. If you don't have Pine cabinets, a sideboard or pine chair may be all you need of this wood to give the desired look.

3. Add a slightly formal appeal to your kitchen by adding botanical prints framed in gold!

4. White ironstone, in a combination of patterns, is very English country. The clean lines and ageless purity of this type of dishware makes a wonderful selection for tableware. It can be displayed on walls in kitchen or hallway, in cabinets, and on counter top. If you build a collection of white ironstone, you'll never run out of serving pieces, display pieces, and decorative accessories for the kitchen and dining room alike.

5. Window coverings are lovely in romantic cotton lace with cheerful tiebacks made from chintz fabric for color and effect.

6. Hang ruffled lace or chintz fabric behind a glass cabinet door to give your kitchen an English Victorian feeling.

7. If you have a lonely wall, place an extra shelf or two there. Paint it white or softly color-wash it, then fill with china and crystal.

8. Find a tall, handsome broom (or make one yourself) and place in a kitchen corner for show (and use, of course).

9. If your kitchen has space, add a comfortable easy chair to a corner spot. Slipcover with an overscale cabbage rose pattern. Don't worry, it will be as pretty in your kitchen as it would be in the living areas of your home.

10. Flower arrangements should be as my mother always made: informal, loose, and mixed. Use a combination of flowers that are relaxed and garden-friendly (daisies, lavender, pansies, foxglove, roses, ferns, etc.). Use an ironstone pitcher from your collection as a container to place the flowers in.

11. Eclectic collectibles placed informally throughout a country kitchen is very English! If the objects are special and tastefully arranged, it is never 'too much' (I'm going to read this sentence to my husband!).

12. Find decorative accessories that double as serving pieces and kitchen utensils. Old painted boxes work great for toothpick storage and Wedgwood teapots can hold fresh flowers from the garden.

13. Old oversized pots and iron cauldrons are reminiscent of "Upstairs, Downstairs" and of times past, reminding viewers of the time when the kitchen staff was sizable and the guests numerous. These pots work great for banquets or as large vessels filled with dried flowers.

14. Bulletin boards covered with beautiful chintz prints and lace or trim create a color accent to kitchen decor. Such a board is the perfect place for placing appointment reminders, souvenir postcards, greeting cards, and thoughtful notes from friends.

15. Avoid kitchen wallpaper prints that scream "kitchen". Instead use large botanical prints or a stylish dining-room type pattern. Stripes and tickings are also appropriate for an English country kitchen.

And don't forget, always have a tea kettle ready to heat on the stove for a quick cuppa tea when your neighbor comes to visit!

Photo: Elm Street Antiques


  1. I would have never thought to use coconut milk in cinnamon rolls...but it sounds so perfect!

  2. We use a chintz covered couch for part of the seating for the kitchen table that is in bay window area. Cozy and comfy for tea or board games.

  3. Love the new look and all the great information on the uniqueness and nationality of the a Kitchen. Now I will try to identify what type of kitchen I have!!

  4. My Grandpa built my Grandma's house in 1929 and following years. It was in the "English Cottage style" of the time and all hand cut cedar shakes. It had all the lovely built ins that homes of that era had and one of them was the china closet in the dining room. Grandma always had a paper lace trim that hung on the shelves, until the day she died. I know it is something that was in style at the time and she just kept through the years. I have one remnant piece of that paper lace that I want to use in a shadow box some day. Her kitchen walls were pink and the inside of the built in china cabinets was a light aqua/robin's egg color with white paper lace on the shelf edges. I appreciated the spiritual part of your post, but seeing the lace on the cupboards brought me unexpected joy! :o)

  5. You said: "Eclectic collectibles placed informally throughout a country kitchen is very English!" Well, I don't know if I have any real "style" in my home at all, but it's definitely eclectic. I also always have garden flowers loosely arranged on my dining table. So perhaps I have a bitty-bit of English charm. Oh, and the tea kettle's ever ready!

    I enjoyed this post.

  6. I am really enjoying these interior decor posts. They speak of culture and all things in the understanding of the origins

  7. I think you have English country style pretty much covered. I love Americana though, but it doesn't go in my kitchen which is rather small


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