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English Houses

December 8, 2016

What comes to your mind when you hear this phrase – English Houses? I think of big old buildings somewhere in the country, pretty secret gardens, cosy rooms with huge fire places and colourful spaces that resemble cabinets of curiosity. I don’t think I was far off – Ben Pentreath’s wonderful new book English Houses is full of such inspirational homes.


Featuring interiors from city apartments to country manor houses this book illustrates the classic English style. Unique architecture, old and brand new interiors, lots of colours and textures – pure inspiration!


From the very first pages I fell in love with the author’s rooftop flat in Bloomsbury. Ben Pentreath is an expert in architecture and interior design, no wonder his home is so rich in objects that straight away draw ones attention (like the framed map of John Rocque’s ‘Plan of the Cities of London, Westminster and Southwark’ in the photograph above). “Shifting collection of vibrant cushions” and heaps of blooms, adored by Ben’s husband Charlie, make this flat spring to life with colour and I’m certainly not a black and white person.


If you think this is just another book about interiors, you are wrong. Ben says that “this is a book about houses, but more than that, it is a book about people”. In his opinion “perfectly decorated room without people to occupy it, love it, and live in it is meaningless”. I coudn’t agree more! (This bright kitchen in the photograph above belongs to Lulu Lytle. She owns a shop Soane Britain that sells furniture, fabric, wallpaper and lighting – all of it made in Britain. Do you like the Owl Lantern hanging above the table? I think it’s brilliant. Apparently it’s made entirely by hand by skilled Sheffield silversmiths and you can order it from Lulu’s shop.)


Oh, that “curious alchemy of putting together rooms”… Ben says that architecture is easier as you can tell precisely for e.g. “the correct thickness of a glazing bar”, yet “good decoration is a matter of opinion”. Well, flicking through this book you’ll be able to pick what YOU like the most. (I was truly inspired by Trematon Castle or the home of garden designers Julian and Isabel Bannerman (photograph above – one of their rooms), as the author has noticed it “fizzes with energy and fireworks”.)


I love the fact that English Houses isn’t only about indoors. In this book you’ll find quite a few lush gardens and extremely green country landscapes. You can pick some ideas for your vegetable patch and flower beds and even for a cosy conservatory!


Well, you might not like English style, you might find it too busy and too cluttered, but I think you would still enjoy a journey to this big island that has so many hidden treasures – splendid castles and manor houses. Ben Pentreath will be your perfect guide. And as there’s nothing plain and simple here, be prepared for an extremely interesting trip!

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English Houses by Ben Pentreath, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Photography by Jan Baldwin © Ryland Peters & Small

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2016 8:56 pm

    Such unique spaces that show a real embracing of color! Love the copper with the blue tile.

    • December 14, 2016 8:42 am

      Thank you for stopping by and glad to hear you liked Ben Pentreath’s book – I do agree that blue and copper go so well together (I guess this was one of my favourite kitchens in English Houses). K.

      P.S. For more inspiration visit Ben’s blog –

  2. December 12, 2016 7:54 pm

    Such luscious colors. I am not a black and white person either. I told the decorator I asked to help on a few finishing touches when I was almost finished decorating our new home that white was for people who couldn’t pick a color. LOL She was a little surprised at my statement, but didn’t really disagree after she thought about it. I will have to look and see if I can find the book over here. I love English gardens and took them as inspiration for my flowerbeds.

  3. December 15, 2016 1:51 pm

    I so agree with you, Ruth, that white is for people who have no imagination (or courage). In my opinion white is for hospitals, where everything should be clean and tidy, and maybe Scandinavian homes, where a certain form of minimalism is just the way they live or, in other words, their lifestyle philosophy.

    I’m also a fan of English gardens (by the way Ben Pentreath has a lovely garden and you can find loads of beautiful photographs on his blog:

    If you are going to look for this book, also try English Decorations – I think it might be even more colourful than the new one. K.

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