Today’s monumental coronation of King Charles III has me thinking about all the glorious pomp and circumstance of British beauty and majesty. Steeped in centuries of tradition and ritual, every aspect of British society is literally draped in layers of storied pageantry on subtle, splendid display for all to see. With a healthy obsession for Princess Diana and a love of Laura Ashley as a child, I was convinced I lived a past life in a Merchant Ivory film. It’s safe to say I’ve always been a devout Anglophile, and it’s evident in my addiction to all things that exude that unique British marriage of chaotic restraint, lack of orthodoxy, heritage, and healthy doses of color and pattern.
The Brits are notoriously skilled at creating a harmonious space without feeling “noisy,” all while maintaining perfect pitch and volume. Balance and focus are miraculously achieved amid a cacophony of wool, damask, chintz, linen, velvet, plaid, tartan, and floral in a way only British design can achieve.
One of my favorite British designers, Kit Kemp of the Firmdale Hotels group, is a wizard at creating spaces that are tidy, calm, serene, and beautiful, all while being wildly colorful and fantastically whimsical. It’s a rare combination that is the design equivalent of a world-class symphony. Her American contemporary, Katie Ridder, is one of my all-time favorite designers; she embodies the same ethos as Kemp and is unbelievably talented at placing texture and tone in places and combinations that I would never imagine working together. I’m sure that she, too, was British in another life.
The Soho Hotel London. Another gorgeous, playful spot to stay by designer Kit Kemp ofFirmdale Hotel Group. And again, those headboards.
I’m always here for a wallpaper moment, and British staple Morris & Co. has delivered for over a hundred years with the most beautiful patterns. Perigold.
Katie Ridder Interiors. It’s the European-inspired layers that do it for me every time. Often mistaken for a British designer, Katie is a long-time favorite. I love her luxurious method of mixing and matching cotton, silk, and linen, floral and solid, without feeling stuffy or formal.
Again, Katie Ridder is a genius with headboard shapes and patterns, and her ability to layer in color, textiles, and the most gorgeous lamp shades is brilliant.
The Haines Collection is a “pioneering platform for the resale of fabric offcuts that would otherwise most likely be headed to landfill.” And they also have an exceptional collection of lampshades, cushions, wallpaper, rugs, tiles, and hardware—quintessentially British and oh-so beautiful (and sustainable).
If color and printed patterns are not your things for interiors, enjoy some other examples below of how you can incorporate happy doses of each into your wardrobe and tablescapes and elevate everyday items that otherwise might be downright drab.
Fabric bowl covers. Never use Saran Wrap again when you bring a salad to that dinner party or drop off a welcome meal for your new neighbor. Simple, sustainable, smart.
Stop brown bagging it and use these colorful, fun, seemingly bottomless, and sturdystriped sacks for your next trip to the grocery store.
You know I can’t resist a vibrant, block-printed dress. Sue Sartor makes small-batch, limited-run, hand-stamped dresses that are the epitome of feminity. Grab your fascinator, and you’re Derby or Ascot-ready.
I LOVE Saloni dresses! The most beautiful fabrics and patterns by Indian, London-based designer Saloni Lodha. They are works of art that fit like a glove. You will want to become a collector once you wear her beautiful creations.
I’m a long-time fan of anything John Derian. I’ve collected his decoupage plates and paperweights for years, and this wall calendar is pretty enough to make me use a paper one again. Although he’s American, his art and eye have that certain European “je ne sais quoi.”