Nancy Lancaster's 7 Design Rules

Having not yet lived a whole life, I am turning to Nancy Lancaster rather than inventing my own Interiors Lessons. The great interiors pioneer of the 1920's, Nancy Lancaster established what is known as 'English Country House Style'. Her aesthetic swept away the stately stiffness of the Victorian era and captured the relaxed spirit of life in the country. Her belief that rooms should look undecorated, aged and furnished over time is something I strongly agree with. Here are her 7 Interiors Life Lessons that still apply today:


1. In restoring a house, one must first realize its period, feel its personality, and try to bring out its good points.
2. Decorating must be appropriate.

3. Scale is of prime importance, and I think that oversized scale is better than undersized scale.

4. In choosing a colour, one must remember that it changes in different aspects. 

5. Understatement is extremely important, and crossing too many t's and dotting too many i's makes a room look overdone and tiresome. One should create something that fires the imagination without overemphasis. 

6. I never think that sticking slavishly to one period is successful; a touch of nostalgia adds charm. One needs light and shade, because if every piece is perfect, the room becomes a museum and is lifeless.

7. A gentle mixture of furniture expresses life and continuity, but it must be a delicious mixture that flows and mixes well. It is a bit like mixing a salad. I am better at rooms than salads. 

Words by Tamara Lancaster. The Iris Letter April 2018.