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The dos and don’ts of English interior style

We explore the beauty and diversity of this inimitable, inviting style with interior designer, Georgie Pearman

The dos and don’ts of English interior style

The overriding characteristic of English interior style is that it defies characterisation. Comfortable, colourful, conducive to good conversation, it is about bringing together different elements in a relaxed way to create schemes that are never shouty yet exude a quiet confidence.


Key to English interior style are the brands that bring a wealth of creativity, craftsmanship and knowledge to their fields. From inspirational paint colours by Farrow & Ball to meticulously crafted pieces by Soane; from classic bathroom wares by Lefroy Brooks to elegant furniture by the likes of Pinch and Benchmark, British brands are championing quality and innovation to produce designs that defy passing trends.


As we celebrate our 30th birthday this year, Linwood is proud to belong to this cohort of quiet trailblazers, producing collections of beautiful, versatile fabrics and wallpapers that have garnered us a loyal following. Sometimes, we work with interior designers to devise bespoke versions of our offerings, our most recent collaboration being an adaptation of one of our fabrics to create a striking wallpaper for bedrooms at The Orange, an elegant London pub that is part of the hospitality group Cubitt House. Georgie Pearman, the group’s co-chair and the visionary behind its warm, eclectic interiors, is adept at pushing creative boundaries to devise interiors that inspire and surprise yet at the same time have an all-important sense of familiarity. Here, we explore English style in more detail, and ask Georgie how she captures it in her interior design schemes…



The role of colour and pattern in English interior design

Linwood Fabric | Bibi | Khiva | Grass


Colour and pattern have always been the bedrock of English interior style, as witnessed in some of the best English country house schemes by the likes of Nancy Lancaster or Nina Campbell. The importance is in the layering: printed linens, plaids, stripes and patterned wallpapers might all rub shoulders in the same scheme, united – albeit somewhat loosely – by a select colour palette. ‘I love colour and regularly feature quite bold colours in schemes. Using patterned fabrics on cushions, bedheads and elsewhere and layering with stripes and fringes. It makes everything a bit more interesting. Linwood have beautiful fabrics and wallpapers for this. I’ll often pair their fabrics with fringes from Samuel & Sons.'

When using different prints, it is also important to consider scale: ‘Try mixing together designs of a similar scale or balancing an oversized print with a couple of neat prints,’ advises Ella Richards, Linwood’s Head of Design. She adds, ‘Some of our collections feature prints that are devised so that they can be mixed together, to make life easier when creating an interior design scheme.’ Here, two charming linen prints of a similar scale – Khiva and Chitgar, both from the Bibi collection – are layered with plains in the same palette of green and coral pink for an effect that is both relaxed and uplifting.



Finding inspiration across the world

Linwood Fabric | Odyssey | Songbird | Sand


Great Britain has always been an intrepid nation, with its inhabitants travelling to far-flung corners of the world and returning with inspiration from distant lands. Many of the textiles we may think to be resolutely British in fact began their life somewhere entirely different: think chintz, which first came from India; or the paisley motif, which originated in Persia and found its way to Paisley in Scotland, where it was produced on jacquard looms.


For Georgie, the draw of different cultures certainly influences her style: 'I love using antique textiles from around the world in projects and will often re-work them into new prints and designs. Interior designer Robert Kime was the master of this. An avid collector or antique rugs and textiles from his travels, he was able to create a beautiful, lived in, English house look that always withstood the test of time and was effortless. His shop is across the road from The Orange and it’s a constant source or inspiration.'


At Linwood, our design team continues to find inspiration from every continent: our whimsical Songbird printed velvet, pictured above, was inspired by a crewelwork wall hanging Ella purchased from California, while our characterful Rubia linen print was inspired by a 1920s bedcover from Uzbekistan. ‘The walls of our creative studio are covered with finds from all over the world,’ says Ella, adding, ‘We still sketch and paint by hand, exploring different effects in watercolour or gouache until we perfect the look of each design.’ 


Creating beauty with comfort at the fore

The Orange | Linwood Wallpaper | Helter Skelter


The Orange | Linwood Wallpaper | Helter Skelter


One of the most appealing features of English interior design is a sense of comfort, something that Georgie places at the forefront of her mind when she is working on the interior design schemes for Cubitt House’s projects. ‘When I am designing a bedroom, one of the key ingredients is a great bed,’ she notes, adding, ‘I use The Cotswold Bed Co. because they make everything by hand on their premises and use sustainable, natural, biodegradable materials like cotton and sheep’s wool to create their mattresses.’


For bedrooms at The Orange, a grand pub in Belgravia which the Cubitt House group recently returned to its former glory, Georgie approached Linwood to ask us to rework our Helter Skelter linen print into a wallpaper. ‘I wanted to create a lively backdrop and these papers do just that. They have worked out brilliantly and I love the colours and the patterns on the walls,’ she notes. The design is derived from 17th century domino paper – a technique where the pattern was engraved on metal in relief – with the stylised fern referencing classical motifs. ‘The print works well with The Orange’s Georgian architecture yet it is modern in terms of the colour palettes we have used,’ adds Ella.


Quietly self-assured

Linwood Fabric | Odyssey | Hali | Ruby


The expression in fashion, ‘The person wears the dress, or the dress wears the person,’ certainly also applies to interior design and when it comes to English interior style, the former rings true. British people don’t like interiors that feel stuffy, agrees Georgie: ‘We design our hotels and pubs to be warm and welcoming rather than formal and fussy; places where people feel instantly relaxed.’


At Linwood, our designs always bear a hallmark of familiarity, giving them an ability to work in all manner of interiors. Our Hali printed velvet pictured here is inspired by a distressed kilim rug, and its lovely, muted palette lends itself to both an English country house setting or a more modern room scheme. ‘We focus on creating designs that will stand the test of time,’ says Ella, adding, ‘Linwood’s design philosophy places a strong emphasis on colour; our climate can be somewhat grey, so it is important to bring joy to a room.’


Championing British brands

Linwood Fabric | Balvenie


At the heart of English interior style are the British designers and brands that are combining traditional craft skills with innovative new techniques to create quality products. ‘I try to source most key items from British companies because I like to build working relationships with people I know and trust,’ explains Georgie. She continues, ‘British companies have some of the most stringent employment and environmental laws in the world. I think we should all feel proud to have such fantastic companies around that value customer relationships and have such good quality products.’


Our third-generation family-run business is based in Hampshire, taking its name from the small village in the picturesque New Forest where its founders grew up. Many of our collections are produced in Britain, and our selected mills bring generations of expertise in printing techniques, colours and materials. Customer service is a vital part of our operation and our team works closely with interior designers, renowned sofa manufacturers and individuals alike. ‘That’s another beauty of working with local, British companies – if ever there is a problem, you can simply pick up the phone,’ says Georgie.


Linwood Fabric | Small Prints II


While it may be difficult to define English interior style, its attributes are clear: it is about longevity and comfort; being brave yet never brash. It is found simultaneously in the grand rooms of a country house or in a modest coastal cottage; in a Georgian terrace or in a 1970s modernist block. And, just like our fabrics and wallpapers, it is a style that will never go out of fashion…