14 November 2018

Inspiration Behind a Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights

Images of classic English country homes informed the design directive for a recent project.
Swangrove at Badminton House designed by Robert Kime.

For a recently completed brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, our client had many ideas about how they wanted their home to look and feel, and after a wonder through their Pinterest board, it was clear that many of the elements that they were most inspired by were hallmarks of traditional English country style decorating. They were drawn to rooms that used clear, primary colors (blue and red) with an appreciation for pattern on pattern, Persian rugs, and soft and feminine floral prints. They loved antiques but wanted to be sure the house didn’t veer too far into “period” world. They wanted it to feel fresh and young (like them!). For every project, we always spend a significant amount of time at the beginning pouring over reference books and sourcing inspiration imagery that will help lay the groundwork for the story we’re trying to tell.  In this instance, we drew liberally from the interiors of Robert Kime and Colefax and Fowler. With their meticulous interplay of textiles and colors in mind, we set out to make this Brooklyn brownstone distinctly our clients’, with a design that spoke to the elements of the English country style that they responded to, while at the same time respecting (and nodding to) the Greek Revival period of the home. We can still remember at one of our first meetings how their faces lit up as we showed some of the imagery below (scroll right to see them all!).

Amanda Brooks' home in the Cotswolds.
A living room designed by Ben Pentreath from his recently published book.
Robert Kime's home in County Cork.
Swangrove at Badminton House designed by Robert Kime.
Robert Kime in Provence.
A Robert Kime designed home in the Bahamas.
Royal Terrace in Edinburg designed by Robert Kime.
Ben Pentreath.

No deep dive into English country style is complete without a serious study of the work of John Fowler, of the preeminent London interior design firm Colefax and Fowler. Fowler was largely responsible for a dramatic shift in English decorating during the 1930’s and 40’s. As a reaction to the heavy, dark velvets and brown mahogany furniture popular at the turn of the century, Fowler started to loosen and lighten up English interiors, introducing crisp, colorful cotton chintzes, and unexpected juxtapositions of furniture pieces in rooms. Goodbye to matchy forms facing one another in the same fabric! Artwork of different mediums, from oil paintings to framed pressed leaves started to cohabitate on colorfully painted walls. It was, what John Fowler called “humble elegance.” Below, a few images of rooms from modern day Colefax and Fowler rooms.


A cottage in Oxfordshire designed by Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.
A cottage in Oxfordshire designed by Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.
Senior decorator at Colefax & Fowler, Emma Burns' home.

What do you love most about English country style?  Click here to see photos

— Lauren & Suzanne
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