Style Primer: British Colonial
The British Colonial look is an interior design style with staying power. Rooted in classical design principles, this look encompasses design elements from far-flung lands that became part of the British empire during colonial times.
As a result, the look is not the buttoned-up décor you might expect from the prim and proper Brits. Instead, British Colonial style fuses the formal designs of the Victorian era paired with easy-breezy touches, like rattan furnishings, animal-print textiles, and abundant greenery.
Whether it was for commerce or travel, the expanded British emperor offered the opportunity for a fresh fusion of culture from distant places like India, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Today, British Colonial style is as timely as ever for Floridian homes looking for a spot of British class. We’ve pulled together some classic examples of British Colonial style and provided suggestions on how to make this look your own!
In this British colonial bedroom, we see natural materials harmoniously paired with traditional furnishings. The bamboo roller shade, earth-tone rug, and a spray of greenery counterbalance the traditional four-poster bed and chest of drawers with brass hardware. A zebra print pillow is an exotic accent that plays nicely without overpowering the look of this room.
How to Achieve the Look:
Give your bedroom a British colonial feel by focusing on traditional furnishings while incorporating light and airy accents in your choice of window treatments, floor coverings, and accents. Aim to include greenery in the room, whether its live or artificial.
For a more Provençal take on the British colonial style, consider a look similar to this rustic yet classy living room. The classic lines of the settee and the slipper chair give this room a familiar British air, while the abundant use of wood and accents and layered jute rug bring cultural flair. The artwork of this room is typical of British colonial style—depicting faraway places and colonial times in a color palette that brings out the greenery strategically positioned in the room.
How to achieve the look:
This look is more relaxed than some of the typical approaches to British colonial living spaces. Make it yours by combining wall-to-wall rugs in varying textures and don’t be afraid to mix-and-match the textiles of key furnishings, like your sofa and armchairs.
For a truly luxurious British colonial look, pair dark woods with bright colors and shiny objects. In the example above, the lacquered double doors and rich hardwood floors give the space instant class, while the greenery and multi-hued rug keep the room from becoming to heavy on the eyes. Additionally, the gilded mirrors give light to the room.
How to achieve the look:
If your home already features dark woods for flooring, doors, and trim pieces, don’t see it as a limitation in your interior design plans. Use contrasting colors and accents—like the bright white chair and chinoiserie vases to keep the look of the room light and airy. This is a key facet of British colonial design: The heavier aspects of the design are always counter-balanced by bright colors, light materials, and airy accents.
This bedroom strikes a modern, approachable version of British colonial design. The canopy bed is a hallmark of this design style, as are the pair of rattan sitting chairs. With breezy window treatments and an oversized tropical plant completing the space, the room feels upscale without becoming stuffy.
How to Achieve the Look:
To make a look like this yours, choose a statement furnishing with classic Victorian elements (like the canopy bed in this example) to center your room. Use accompanying furnishings and accents to play up both the traditional and coastal elements of your look.
Banking on British Colonial Interior Design
Is British Colonial design the right look for your home? The answer really depends on your objectives for the space and whether or not you identify with the fusion of traditional and cultural design aspects. One thing that is certain, however, is the staying power of this interior design style.
While the British empire may not hold the world monopoly it once did, the Brits did spread the principles of classic design to virtually all parts of the globe. As a result, this interior design style has serious staying power. The fusion with coastal aspects makes it particularly adaptable to Florida style and décor. Finally, the liberal use of natural materials is on trend with one of the most popular interior design styles of the last several years.
So if you’re feeling British, don’t be shy about embracing British colonial design. Use the suggestions above as a starting point for creating your own empire of style in your home. If you need help executing this traditional-with-a-twist design style, contact Michael Gainey Signature Designs for a consultation.