How to Create the Downton Abbey Garden Look

Create the Downton Abbey look for your home and garden with our ideas and suggestions. Based on the popular ITV1 Sunday night drama series, watched by millions of people around the world.

Created by Nathan James Dodd on Monday, 8th of October, 2012.
Updated on Wednesday, 30th of April, 2014.


Downton Abbey Style Ornaments

If we can presume that you don't live in a 'Jacobethan' mansion attached to a 1000 acre Hampshire country estate, you can always create the 'Downton Look' by decorating your humble semi and garden in the different styles associated with the series.

Highclere House, where the programme is filmed, is a Victorian revival of late 16th and early 17th century architecture. There is an Italianate influence especially in the interior design which was completed in 1878 and where gothic also intrudes.

Your garden possibly hasn't had the advantage of Capability Brown's handiwork, which included removing and relocating the nearby village and its inhabitants. The estate includes a temple with corinthian columns and other follies together with typical Brown landscapes complete with giant cedar trees grown from seeds collected from the Lebanon by a family friend.

Garden Ornaments

Without making wholesale changes to your property, perhaps the best way of 'getting the Downton Look', particularly in the garden but also inside perhaps in a conservatory, is with cast stone garden ornaments – bird baths, sundials, fountains, planters, statues and statuary – you can even have your own obelisk.

There is now a large range of these ornaments available, cast out of limestone with a surface texture similar to Portland stone. Cast stone has been used now for many years as it is affordable and durable requiring little or no maintenance, and has been used in numerous country houses where it looks perfectly in harmony next to quarried stone.

Gardensite.co.uk recently sold a Haddonstone Georgian Bird Bath to Highclere Castle. I am hoping it makes it on to the next series of Downton Abbey this autumn.

Wall Paper

The first series of Downton Abbey opens in 1912 and continues up to the outbreak of the Great War. This is right at the end of the Art Nouveau period which was influenced by the fine workmanship of the arts and crafts movement mixed up with fantasy and myth and has has two distinctive styles, wavy or sinuous lines inspired by nature and femininity or the more linear, austere Charles Rennie Mackintosh look. The former is full of stylised  foliage and pre-Raphaelite images, undulating and flowing lines, the latter is characterised by vertical lines and height.

To recreate this look, stained parquet floors with a muted colour scheme featuring greens, browns and yellows will set the scene. Any wallpaper and coverings should be full of contours and twisting branches and tendrils, flowers particularly water lilies and wisteria, birds and dragonflies. If you have tiling this should be 'tube lined' with plain and patterned tiles interspersed.

Furniture

Furniture should be high backed with floral upholstery or lacquered in black and lighting is exemplified by the 'Tiffany Lamp' with its umbrella shape and latticework. Stained glass was much in evidence especially in door panels, and mirrors are bordered with foliate designs. Any ornaments and photograph frames are silver, pewter and glass, decorated with birds, insects and mythical creatures.

The second series covers the years 1916 – 1919 and the third carries on into the 1920s which is the advent of Art Deco, the era of glamour and modernity. The intricate flowing designs of art nouveau disappear and are replaced by geometric design and streamlined shapes. New materials such as highly polished chrome, aluminium and stainless steel take over, although more exotic materials gathered from foreign travel are also apparent and ebony is particularly evident.

Houses begin to be furnished with bolder colours, fabrics are shiny either plain or with zigzags and chevron designs. Lino flooring appears in chequer board black and white, large rugs are laid out again with geometric patterns. Try installing 'uplights' on walls and replace the Tiffany table lamp with one that features the female form. Furniture is simply shaped pale veneered wood, it is decorative but functional taking advantage of mass production while retaining simplicity and elegance.

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