The British colonial style is a timeless classic. Favoured by celebrities such as Ralph Lauren, David Bowie and Jade Jagger, it has an adventurous spirit at heart. Well-travelled and exotic, yet elegant and sophisticated with a hint of formality this transglobal interior style stretches far and wide to the far east, India, the West Indies and Africa.
Think of crafted dark wood furniture sitting alongside tropical green foliage; romantic four poster beds with light cotton fabrics wafting in a warm breeze; crisp white high ceilinged rooms adorned with wooden shutters and see the British Colonial style come to life. It is no surprise that this is an interior style favoured by the rich and famous as well as many luxury five star hotels.
Life in British Colonial India
During the time of the British Empire the British colonists travelled far and wide. They wanted the traditional British furniture they were familiar with back home, but realised they needed to adapt it to suit the hotter climate and use materials native to the area, such as tropical hardwoods, cane and rattan. The local craftsmen would make the furniture and add their artistic flair in the form of carved details and motifs - a mix of the two cultural styles. Native, natural fabrics helped to keep the rooms cool and tropical plants provided much needed shade. Small possessions from home mixed with travelling paraphernalia and souvenirs adding to the eclectic nature of the interior decor.
British Colonial Style Signature Furniture
Credit Unawatuna Guest House - Sri Lanka
Credit The Cotton House - Mustique
Credit Roundhill Hotel & Villas - Jamaica
British Colonial Style Design Features.
Airy high ceilings, often equipped with cooling fans helped to combat the heat as did large windows adorned with shutters to regulate airflow and protect against storms and harsh sunlight. Architectural features such as pillars, shaded verandahs and elegantly curved arches are typical of the British colonial style and create an open and soothing effect.
The foundations of the British colonial style start with the cooling white of the walls contrasting with the dark browns and blacks of the wooden furniture and timber floors. Added to this almost monochromatic palette are the rich, lush greens from tropical plants and foliage, both in their natural form in pots and also seen in the botanical prints hung on walls, which were popular of the time. Natural neutral tones from the cane used in easy chairs and planter’s chairs added texture and warmth.
A well-travelled and eclectic curation of accessories are essential elements of the British colonial style. Travelling paraphernalia such as globes, maps and telescopes work well, as do knickknacks picked up on far-flung travels. Asian accents, such as antique ginger jars and chinoiserie mirrors, contribute to an exotic feel evoking a globe trotting lifestyle.
It is little wonder celebrities favour the British Colonial Style. It has a timeless elegance which is adventurous, well-travelled and unique. With a few well chosen pieces anyone can get the British Colonial style and bring some timeless elegance to any interior.