Friday, March 07, 2014

A Country House in the City

And so we end the week with a trip back in time to London, more specifically, a townhouse decorated by the late Tom Parr of Colefax and Fowler. Photographed by Derry Moore for the May 1978 issue of Architectural Digest, the townhouse was located at the end of a private lane, where it was surrounded by trees and a small garden, thus giving visitors a sense of being in the country. Because of the townhouse's bucolic surroundings, Parr decorated this city house in the manner of a English country house.

The article's author, Elizabeth Lambert, noted that "the English are exceedingly good with their country houses, be they city versions or truly in the country. They know how to live in them, and they know how to decorate them- the living and decorating so entwined that to mention either attribute separately is almost impossible." So true. And Tom Parr was quoted as saying, "The best country houses are always totally relaxed, cottony and simple. Above all, they are easy to live in." I think that both Lambert and Parr's statements sum up exactly why Americans are so enamored of the English country house style.

Parr filled the townhouse with furnishings that epitomized both comfort and elegance. Comfy-looking seating, warm light, easy-on-the-eyes colors, and pretty fabrics all add to the relaxed atmosphere of the house. Thirty-five years after being published, these interiors don't look the least bit dated, a testament to Parr's skills as a designer. As he noted, "Decorating must not be ephemeral. The idea of changing colors every year is absolute rubbish. It's too expensive, for a start. There should be a timelessness about every room, and if enough thought has been given to what makes a particular house livable, then a decorator will be very good friends with the owners when the work is finished."

Can you imagine a better spot in which to read? The drawing room was filled with books, comfortable seating, and the homeowners' collection of Liverpool transfer-printed cream ware jugs.

Another view of the drawing room with its 18th-century marble fireplace.

The yellow dining room.

Parr conceived this Print Room for the homeowners, who were avid collectors of North American prints and engravings. Parr added a brown felt-covered table to give the homeowners a place to spread out and study their prints.

The Master Bedroom featured an exuberant use of a Brunschwig & Fils French floral chintz, rendered in shades of blue and brown...

...while in the Dressing Room, a different colorway of the same chintz was chosen for use on the room's walls and sofa.

All photos from Architectural Digest May 1978, Derry Moore photographer.


  1. What a treat, seeing these rooms again! As you say, they hold up impressively well. Not a false touch anywhere.
    As an aside, the arches between front and back drawing rooms recall the layout of Valentino's house in Egerton Terrace
    as decorated by Roger Banks-Pye, who treated them as separate experiences; whereas Tom Parr preferred a seamless
    flow. Neither of these approaches is wrong-- only different.

  2. Jennifer I love the print room, timeless!
    2014 Artists Series

  3. I think this home is around the corner from my clients home in UK + at least it sure looks like it.

  4. Timeless--except for the stiff pillows and low headboard. Gorgeous spaces.

  5. Classic! Tres' comme il faut. Merci' !


  6. Anonymous2:46 AM

    OH WOW!! Thank you so much for that! I could move in with my toothbrush...not often do I say that!

    Thrilling.......and so warm and comfortable !!!!


  7. I really like this- English Country House in London. Do you know if the fabric on the sofas (assume C & F?) in the drawing room is still available? Also find the Dressing Room inspiring. Note how the 18th century portrait mezzotint prints are correctly framed in the old way- without mounts. Not very keen on mounts at the moment (I've just spent a happy morning at my framers in anticipation of the Battersea Decorative Antiques Fair). Don't the prints look good against the dark pink chintz?

  8. I adore the yellow dining room!

  9. It looks so beautiful and comfortable, wow!

  10. Anonymous1:59 AM

    what a brilliant post! It is so important to look to the past! The classics that are timeless! These rooms I would not change one iota !!

    Brilliant! Thank you!!!