Design & Style | November 24,2021

"The Holiday" Inspired Style: Design Your Own English Country Cottage with Sarah Laming

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by Sarah Laming (@ahometomakeyousmile)


It's almost that time of year where we can curl up and watch all the Christmas movies.  Here’s my guide to decorating your home as if you were in Kate Winslet’s cottage from my absolute favorite, "The Holiday."

I’m Sarah, I live in London, UK and am an interior stylist. My own home is quintessentially British but with a twist.  It is maximalist, but relaxed. It is also a home I have created to make me smile.  I love the relaxed heritage of traditional English design and I love to gently and carefully mix patterns, stripes, florals and color so they sit comfortably together. 

I like the idea that houses have been in families for generations, are imperfect and are filled with objects that have been collected over many years. I love homes where everything tells a story – where rooms might make a statement but are also lived in and loved.  My own home is a constant work in progress and is full of piles of much loved books, antiques bought when we lived in Singapore, paintings painstakingly collected from antiques fairs and rugs from junk souks in Morocco…


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Photo credit: Location Hubs



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Photo courtesy of Sarah Laming


So, on that note, I thought I would pull together a collection that reminded me of this English country style.  A collection which could happily be found in Kate Winslett’s beautiful English Country cottage in "The Holiday."  


The English Country Kitchen

My kitchen would contain an antique round table on top of a vintage rug.  There would be open shelves filled with a collection of blue and white china. It would also have a dog – and most definitely a vase of seasonal flowers in the center of my table.

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  1. Large Collection of Blue and White Ceramic Transferware - Chinese Export, Spode and Blue/Old Willow (White Goose Estate Sales)

  2. Antique Oval Fruitwood Table with Inlay (White Goose Estate Sales)

  3. Antique Hand Knotted Carpet Wool on Cotton (Foss Appraisal Service)


Moving to the Sitting Room 

The obligatory fireplace mantle would be casually arranged with some art, a couple of Staffordshire dogs and in winter, some candles.  There would be a comfy chair and a pile of old books with a mug of tea somewhere close by.

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  1. Lovely Vintage Oil on Board Painting - Floral Still Life - Signed Carroll - Probably 1930s or 1940s (Clearing House Estate Sales)

  2. 2 Ceramic Staffordshire Dogs (Waterbury Auction Gallery)

  3. Vintage Cushioned Armchair with Wood Legs and Trim (Certified Estate Specialists)

  4. Assorted Lot of Walter Scott Antique Novels - 16 Total (Sisters in Charge Estate Sales)

  5. Brass Candlestick Set (Ridgeways Estate Sales)


In the Hallway 

There would be a beautiful Georgian chest of drawers, on top of which might be a soup tureen filled with hyacinth bulbs ready for spring, more books in piles and another painting casually plopped on top or close by. 

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  1. Lovely Vintage Oil on Board Painting - Floral Still Life - Signed Carroll - Probably 1930s or 1940s (Clearing House Estate Sales)

  2. Antique 5 Drawers Mahogany Chest of Drawers - Top is Split (White Goose Estate Sales)

  3. Blue and White Ceramic Soup Tureen Server (Monster Estate Sales)


Tips to Bring This Style Together


  1. Embrace color, pattern and texture but keep it to a limited palette.  Stripes and florals sit well together but just choose a few main colors and keep everything tonally the same.


Auction Ninja  Photo courtesy of Sarah Laming


2. Don’t rush. Curate carefully, and fill your home with things you love, things that bring happy memories and make you smile.


Auction NinjaPhoto courtesy of Sarah Laming


3. Imperfect is perfect.  A slightly battered chair that could do with a couple of stitches and paintings in worn, old frames create this comfortable, lived in and relaxed vibe.



Love to shop secondhand? Join us by taking part in our #secondhandsunday2021 campaign to help spread the word about the benefits of shopping thrifted, vintage and used goods by encouraging others to shop secondhand on Sunday, December 5th, 2021 -- via online or in-person estate sales, thrift stores, antique and vintage shops, etc. While being great for the planet and lessening the strain on the supply chain, buying pre-loved goods is a great way to support small business and a unique, thoughtful & affordable way to round out that holiday gift list or to create a magazine-worthy holiday atmosphere at home. ⁠

As a thank you for your participation, we’ll be randomly choosing two (2) lucky winners to receive a $75 AuctionNinja gift voucher for use on your next secondhand treasure hunt!⁠ For details, click here.

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