Photo: This little home library looks cozy for reading a book. Credit: Shutterstock
5. Create Privacy in the Backyard
Here in the United States and Canada, a lot of people have at least a half acre to an acre of backyard. Many of us don’t try to put up a fence unless it is absolutely necessary. In fact, some people believe that it is rude or unfriendly to put up a fence between you and your neighbor’s backyard. But in England, it is expected that every single person is going to have a tall privacy fence blocking out their neighbors. As an American, I was shocked to see that many houses in England even had tall fences in the front of their house, too. Since so many people walked to the village, and it’s understandable that they don’t want neighbors seeing into their windows or when walking by.
When you go into a backyard garden in England, it is always so fenced in, that you feel protected. There is little to no chance that nosy neighbors are going to see what you’re doing while you spend time outside. It really does feel like an extension of the house. When I got back home to the US, it really made me crave having that privacy in my own backyard, especially during quarantine, where this was my only option to get outside. If you want to do this at home, this can be accomplished with tall shrubbery, trees, trellises with ivy, or- of course, a tall privacy fence.
Along with the white picket fence, a rose covered trellis is another thing that you can add to your front yard to give it that English cottage vibe. This gives you a beautiful shaded entryway that smells good, too. The Queen of England even has her own rose garden that the public can come visit to get inspired. Noble families around Europe tended to grow their own rose gardens as well. It’s nowhere near as common here in the United States. Even the famous Rose Garden at the White House has been changed and renovated so many times, it’s no longer a rose garden at all.
If you don’t have space in your front yard for a rose covered trellis, this may be something that is more appropriate for a backyard. This can be a great way to segment off your backyard into different gardens and vignettes. A rose trellis is always a welcoming sight, no matter what area of the yard it happens to be in. Before you jump into buying the supplies, do some planning first. Consider hiring a landscape architect if you have enough money in your budget to do so.
In England, eggs and bread are not refrigerated. These are often left out on the counter so that you can reach for them quickly when it’s time to make breakfast. However, if you’re living in the English countryside, there’s always a chance that a mouse might get in the house. A bread box protects your loaf of bread from critters, but it also helps to clean up your countertop.
Here in the United States, our eggs are pasteurized in such a way that makes the egg shells thinner, which is why we need to refrigerate them. And some people put their bread in the fridge to keep bugs away. But if you’re trying to get the English cottage look, a kitchen wouldn’t be complete without a bread box. If you’re looking for a vintage style bread box, you can find these at thrift stores, on eBay or Etsy. Many farmhouse brands are also coming out with bread boxes, which can be found online.
Something that you see a lot in England and France is a painted front door. This gives your house a pop of color that can help you stand out from your neighbors, who most likely kept the standard brown color. In France, a blue door is a symbol of royalty, because the dye was only accessible to the aristocracy for a long time. As soon as commoners were able to afford blue paint and dye, it began to appear all over England and France. This is a sign that you could afford the small luxuries in life, even if it was only enough paint for your front door.
Door knockers are also popular in England, because houses were built long before doorbells existed. A brass door knocker can actually show a lot about your family heritage. For example, in the photos I included in this article, the door knockers are of a lion’s head. This is typically a symbol of English royalty. My family happens to have Irish heritage on both sides, so our brass door knocker is the Claddagh. There are a lot of different shapes and size door knockers out there available online.
In The United Kingdom, many houses in affluent areas have a name plate outside of the home. This isn’t necessarily the name of the family, but rather a nickname given to the house itself. The name can be passed down from one owner to the next, and it’s rarely changed by the new occupant. Anyone who has seen Skyfall already knows that this was the name of James Bond’s family home. The name doesn’t always have to be that original, though. Many people might call their home after their last name, like Quinn Cottage or Smith Manor. In most cases, the name gives a nod to the house’s history.
Here in the United States, naming your house isn’t something people do, because it’s seen as being pretentious. It’s much more common to see a sign with someone’s last name inside of the house, rather than outside. We might have our house number by the door, but that’s it. However, if you want to do this for yourself, you should consider hiring an artist on Etsy to create a custom sign for you. After visiting England, I felt inspired to give our family home a name, since it was built in the 1800’s, and will likely be passed down to me. After much debate, we decided on Cedar Manor, because we’re on a large piece of land next to a cedar forest. However, we haven’t made the sign yet, because we are- in fact- afraid of coming off as pretentious!