If you look back over the past 100 years in the history of decoration, one style that continues to endure is that of the English country house. Several ingredients combine to create a classic, timeless scheme: a deep, feather-filled sofa (often with a dog dozing at one end), table lamps with gathered shades, a blend of furniture from different periods, rugs on the floor, piles of books on the table and lots of fresh flowers.
“The key to its success is flexibility – nothing is preserved in aspic,” explains the interior designer Stephanie Dunning, who co-founded the studio Dunning & Everard more than 30 years ago. “When I started my career, not a week went by without designing curtains with swags and tails, yet it has been years since I last used them. Our lifestyles have changed, things have become less formal, and country-house designs have adapted accordingly.”
What remains constant is the desire for a cohesive flow throughout the house, ensuring that interior schemes respond well to the proportion and scale of rooms. “This is when the magic starts to happen, with that wonderful, slightly nebulous feeling of a house being warm and welcoming as soon as the front door is opened,” says Camilla Elwell, director of Savills Country House Department.