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A British country house: The modern edit

Discover the charm of modern country homes and cottages in Britain.

Traditional English cottage
A British country house: The modern edit
November 6, 2023

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This article was originally posted on Making Space, a Substack penned by our Cofounder, Matteo Grand. Subscribe below to receive more content just like this.

As a London-based team with Sydney roots and Mediterranean sensibilities, our interior design compass is all over the map. In our humble opinion, in a cool, jet-setter way. Of all the styles around though, modern British country homes and cottages might be one of our favourites. Think about it; timeless charm meets contemporary elegance. Cottagecore meets sophisticated. From elegant cottages nestled in picturesque landscapes to grand country estates with a touch of luxury, country-style is an antique interior design style, with a no frills approach to beauty.

In this article, we will provide you with valuable insights on how to achieve the modern country aesthetic, both via elements listed and using luxury suppliers we personally know and work with. So grab a cup of tea, sit back, and get ready to be inspired by the beauty and elegance of British country homes and cottages.

The modern country home is no suburban style house; it is much more

Country homes have become synonymous with a simpler, more idyllic way of life—a cherished emblem of England's architectural and cultural legacy. From their low ceilings and exposed beams to their thatched or tiled roofs, each element showcases a harmonious blend of tradition and elegance. These one or two-story structures, often constructed using local materials such as stone or brick,  meld into the surrounding landscape, offering an enchanting sight for all.

Traditionally serving as farmhouses or homes for agricultural workers, the British country house continues to dot the landscape, seducing urban dwellers to embrace the tranquility of the outdoors.

While each cottage evokes its own particular style, you'll notice that every dining room and living room has a warm and inviting ambiance, boasting traditional furnishings adorned with delightful floral prints.

Beyond their architectural allure, English cottages hold a profound cultural significance. Romanticized in literature, immortalized in art, and immortalized in folk songs, these homes evoke nostalgia for a simpler past—a reflection of England's agricultural heritage and a longing for a more tranquil existence.

As time marches forward, the allure of English cottages endures, however, they are getting more and more contemporary as trends shift.

The modern country home aesthetic effortlessly blends traditional elements with contemporary design, resulting in a space that is both charming and up-to-date. Neutral colour palettes and the use of natural materials are hallmarks of this style, with open floor plans and large windows now becoming common features in modern country homes. Texture plays a key role in achieving the desired look, with natural British stone, reclaimed wood, and brass accents adding visual interest and warmth to the interior design.

Many designers incorporate technology and smart home features in these refurbished cottages, which allows these homes to balance comfort and functionality to create a comfortable everyday life.

When it comes to designing a modern country home, investing in quality pieces is essential. Second-hand shopping offers a treasure trove of unique finds that can add character and charm to your space. From farmhouse-inspired rugs and elegant accessories to soft linens and traditional florals, there is no shortage of options to choose from. Additionally, consider incorporating wood flooring, upholstered furnishings, and timeless wallpaper to further evoke the modern country style.

Simplicity, symmetry, pastels, cushions: The perfect country modern house

01. Joanna Wood’s Cotswold house

With a reputation cultivated over 25 years, Joanna Wood is one of Britain's top names in the global interior design industry. Joanna gives her meticulous attention to detail to every project, resulting in a classic design that blends traditional and modern components. Originally built in the 16th century on Saxon foundations, this country home was renovated while preserving the rustic grandeur its first farmer owners had imbued in the structure.

green kitchen
Photography by Simon Brown via House & Garden
cottagecore bedroom
Photography by Simon Brown via House & Garden

02. Retrouvius’ renovation of a Dartmoor house

The Retrouvius design firm uses carefully recycled materials for unique, modern purposes. Taking on a small number of projects each year, each is carefully suited to the client's changing needs as well as the requirements of the location, whether it be a modern penthouse, mediaeval priory, boat, or boutique. When they took over the refreshing of this Dartmoor home, they gave it an aesthetic completely different from other country homes. Instead of opting for the traditional, they went for a laid-back, rustic feel that embraces soft, natural textures and the organic feel of the hills surrounding the estate. The final effect is soft, muted, and earthy, in complete harmony with the powerful structure of the house.

cottagecore living room
Photography by Martin Morrell via House & Garden
green bathroom
Photography by Martin Morrell via House & Garden

03. Natasha James’ Yorkshire home

Natasha James is a textile designer who delved deep into her passion for textiles after moving to the North York Moors. She is passionate about exuberant colour combinations, patterns, and creating uplifting and welcoming spaces. Her Yorkshire home is the perfect result of all her creative vision, a deliciously layered space full of joy, pastels and play.

blue hallway
Photography via Michael Sinclair via House & Garden
cottagecore bedroom
Photography via Michael Sinclair via House & Garden

04. Caroline Riddell’s renovation of a Berkshire modern country style house

Caroline Riddell is an interior designer known for her warm, elegant but not too “precious” interiors (although we might disagree with that statement!). Her spaces always look styled, but never at the expense of the clients’ personality and homeliness. This 17th century rectory and barn is an exquisite example of Caroline’s style, which feels organically developed yet perfectly balanced.

modern country house
Photography by Simon Brown via House & Garden
farmhouse bathroom
Photography by Simon Brown via House & Garden

05. Marion Lichtig’s renovation of a Cornish house

An accomplished interior designer with over thirty years of experience, Marion Lichtig creates spaces that feel effortless. Her style is classical yet understated, balancing between traditional and contemporary elements. In this Cornish holiday home, the clients initially wanted a completely modern home. Once that was turned down by local authorities, Marion was brought in to create soft interiors that highlighted the structure of the home and the immense amount of light coming in. The interiors now feel balanced and airy, with comfort at their centre.  

modern country living room
Photography by Paul Massey via House & Garden
modern country bedroom
Photography by Paul Massey via House & Garden

How to achieve the modern country aesthetic with luxury suppliers

01. Infuse modernity with ABI Interiors' range

For a gorgeous addition of simplicity and symmetry, you should check out ABI Interiors' incredible range. Source with them on Portaire.

white wood bathroom

02. Choose Ark One Wood for classic timber beauty

Wood is a timeless classic, and especially when it comes from Ark One. You can explore their range on Portaire.

grainy wood

03. Add quality details with Dowsing and Reynolds

Dowsing and Reynolds takes the little details that build a country modern house to the next level. You can find them on Portaire.

metal switches

04. Incorporate Empty State's lighting for contrast

The modern country house is all about balance, so if you feel that your space is too overcharged with classical elements, Empty State's lighting will equalise the space.

modern lighting

05. Create a cool modern house with LEDS C4

As with the last supplier, LEDS C4 is contemporary industrial design personified. You can source both of them on Portaire.

Pendant light, Circular simple inward, gold, LED, 2700k, 3670 lm, Ø200cm,  H5cm - LEDs C4 - Nedgis Lighting

06. Sprinkle glamour with Northern Lights

Northern Lights has furnished superyachts, mansions and commercial spaces. A modern country house? Just perfect, and available on Portaire.

contemporary british design

Studio Duggan, Holland Park project

07. Paint with emotion with YesColours

YesColours combines endless colour with quality, sustainability and love. Cottagecore edit, below. Source at Portaire, today.

green paint house

08. Create a cosy ambiance with Tim Page Carpets

No country modern house is complete without soft furnishings. Tim Page Carpets is your best bet.

rug wood bedroom


How can I incorporate modern design elements into a traditional British country home or cottage?

To infuse modern design into a British country home or cottage, consider clean-lined furniture, contemporary lighting fixtures, and a neutral color palette with pops of bold colours.

cottage bathroom
Octavia Dickinson's former flat in Battersea, Photography by Rachel Whiting

Are there any specific architectural styles that are commonly seen in British modern country style homes and cottages?

British country homes often showcase traditional architectural styles like Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian. Thatched roofs add charm to many British cottages, while large gardens or landscapes surround them. Stone or brick exteriors are also common features.

cottage exterior
Middle Barn by Boutique Retreats