Today we’ll show you how to incorporate Jane Austen inspired style into your home. When Sense and Sensibility was first published in 1811, there were no skyscrapers in London, no London underground trains, no cars, and certainly no noisy jets overhead. Yet even back then, busy Londoners craved a respite from the pace of city life in that most English of retreats – the country cottage.
Even though the world has changed in ways Jane Austen could never have imagined in the early 19th century, the charm of the English country cottage – and its counterparts elsewhere in the world – remains as appealing as ever!
Jane Austen’s heroines, like Austen herself, tended to be voracious readers, in part because they were attracted to the world of ideas. Austen would probably agree that nothing is quite as cozy as a reading nook. Like traditional Dutch cupboard beds that have their own small lighting fixtures and tiny bookshelves, a reading nook provides the perfect place to curl up with a favorite novel. Nooks can be fitted into a larger room or even a hallway if the proportions are right.
Choose Soft Hues
While the colors of today’s clothing and upholstery can be as bright and saturated as those of a parrot’s feathers, hues were much more muted in the early 19th century. As a result, Austen’s world had a softer look, with upholstery and clothing more likely to appear light gray, lavender, pink, pale yellow, or pale blue. The use of pastel colors for fabric and paint can give a 21st-century interior the gauzy look of a Regency-era parlor, and such soft tones can also provide a visual foil for works of art or antiques with more vivid hues.
Though the glamour of London plays a role in some of Jane Austen’s novels, most of the action takes place in the countryside. A sure way to bring a touch of rural life into an interior is to add some rustic antique furniture or a new item fashioned from vintage or reclaimed wood. Antique pieces like a small writing desk in a home office or a farm table in a kitchen can transform a room, connecting the present with a real piece of the past.
Wild for Wallpaper
Wallpaper can be traced as far back as ancient China, but it was not until the 18th century that the industry began to flourish in Europe. By Jane Austen’s day, scenic wallpaper had come into vogue, and panoramas depicting the exotic locales of famous explorers’ travels, such as Captain Cook’s voyages to the South Pacific, became wildly popular. Wallpaper also commonly depicted pastoral scenes or floral or geometric patterns that complemented the furniture and interiors of the Regency period.
Whether an interior is painted or wallpapered, a simple way to create a country cottage aesthetic is to paint trim and wainscoting white or light gray. A darker color, like navy blue or charcoal, can make this traditional detail chic for a city residence, too.
The English perfected the art of the formal garden. At every scale, from the modest hedgerows of London suburbs to the Hampton Court maze, gardens provide a place to walk, talk, think, and daydream. The simple acts of enjoying a garden itself or planting and tending flowers and shrubs offer time-honored ways to clear the mind.
Rare Book Collection
The ultimate Austen-inspired interior decorating element is a well-stocked library. And there is no need to limit a collection of books to a single room. Rare books, first editions, and well-loved novels can be displayed anywhere a reader might enjoy having them close at hand.