Amitha's Blog

Downton Inspired: Part II

Last week we were talking about our love for the beautiful Downton Abbey, or Highclere Castle (its real name). I was having so much fun discussing the stately homes of the 18th century that I had to make myself stop writing and turn this into a two-part post. I started looking at other stately English homes and there are so many to admire!

One that I enjoyed reading about was Syon House in Middlesex. While the exterior is quite unassuming, the interiors are spectacular and were primarily designed by Robert Adams around 1760.

Take a look at this lovely great hall. The design is so classic it could be a modern day interior – so striking!

I especially loved the Long Gallery, which stretches along the length of the river in front of the estate. After dinner the women would retire to a separate room by passing through this Long Hall. Adams replaced the original panelling with delicate plasterwork to create an elegant space to amuse the women. The colors, pieces and scale of the furniture all made it a beautifully soft, serene space to sit or pass through.

I just adore all the lovely French chairs and tea tables. Back then they didn’t have coffee tables, but rather used small side tables to place their beverages on. I mentioned in last week’s post that adding smaller tea tables next to your seating adds a bit of old world charm into your interiors. The colors in this lovely room are still very elegant and could be used in a room today!

Another room I really loved was the private dining room. Take a look below.

Look at that fabulous ceiling design! And I love the gilt frames contrasted against that pretty blue-grey wall. (You’ve probably figured out by now that my favorite color is blue-grey!) Perhaps if you replaced the oil portraits with a few pieces of modern art, landscapes and engravings, this would look like a room you might find in a contemporary Houston home.

And when it comes to classic design, here is another 17th century country house I love. This house has been relatively unaltered and showcases Jacobean architecture with Georgian interiors.

Just look at the dining room – talk about inspiring design!

The Dining Room at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. The room was designed by James Paine in 1752. The ceiling plasterwork was by Joseph Rose the elder.

Then of course there is the truly exquisite Chatsworth House, whose beauty is amplified by its lovely setting.

Just. look. at. this. bedroom.

I simply LOVE this room! The green is so rich – Pantone color of the 18th century as well as 2013, it seems. And look at that gorgeous wallpaper with the beautiful tree of life motif! Don’t you just love how that gilt mirror looks up against it? I would be so inspired if this were my bedroom!

Apart from this beautiful green, my current color obsessions are cream, grey, pale golds and blues. So you can see why I love this lovely room from Uppark House.

The Saloon showing the ornate gilt ceiling and chandelier. Bookcases and pictures line the walls with armchairs upholstered in tapestry and settees grouped around.

Doesn’t looking at all these stately homes just make you want to bring a touch of grandeur to your own house? Here are a few ideas to get the look:



Although English in heritage, many of the chairs shown in these rooms are actually French chairs. You can still find beautiful chairs like these below:

They look wonderful with a classic damask or tapestry pattern like you might have found in a 17-18th century home, or you could opt for a pop of modern style with a fun, geometric fabric.

Speaking of chairs, you can often find antique chairs being sold individually as they’ve usually been separated from their set along the years. Keep an eye out for these, as they often make the perfect vanity or desk chair.

Vintage Lighting

We now depend on electricity but the shape of our light fixtures is often still patterned after 18 and19th century chandeliers. How about a adding a few classically inspired sconces or chandeliers into your rooms?

Wine Tables

These tables were often used while drinking wine and hosting guests. Once the wine drinking was over, you would flip the top down and put the table away. These “convertible” tables make great additions to game rooms, wine rooms and great rooms where you could pull the table out to play cards and enjoy some wine.

Antique serving ware

There is still nothing more elegant than dining by candlelight. Try it – put it on the calendar for one night this spring. You can put your main lights down low on a dimmer and try lighting your table with a lovely candelabra like the ones you see in the dining rooms of these great homes.

There are so many ways to bring a little of the old grandeur into your home without turning your own house into a period piece! The best interiors reflect a collection of old and antique all the way to current day modern trends.

A visit to Downton Abbey or Highclere is on my bucket list. My brother is getting married this year; maybe I can convince him to have a destination wedding at Downton so I can feel like a princess for the day!

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