How to Decorate a Kitchen in British Colonial

Jan Czech

As the British increased their empire through colonization in the 1800s, they settled in places like the West Indies, the Caribbean islands, Singapore and Africa. They imported their furniture and house wares from England but soon found them inappropriate for those tropical climates. Their efforts to acclimate themselves to their surroundings resulted in what is now referred to as British Colonial style. Bring this look to your kitchen with a mixture of traditional British style, tribal motifs and laid-back island décor.

English bone china is an element of British Colonial decor.
  1. Paint the walls in sea tones of pale green and blue. Add punch with accents like a cobalt-blue tile back splash or granite counter tops with bright coral highlights.

  2. Choose cupboards in a dark wood, like cherry. Or stain light wood cupboards in a dark color like mahogany or walnut. Choose a style with raised panels or decorative carving. Add pewter, wrought-iron or pounded copper or silver hardware.

  3. Lay a dark wood floor to echo the cabinets and anchor the room. Consider Brazilian cherry wood. Add texture with sisal area rugs or anchor a kitchen eating area with a rug in an Oriental design.

  4. Pull rattan stools up to the breakfast bar or opt for stools upholstered in leather or a botanical print.

  5. Set the table with neutral linen table cloths or place mats. Add some punch with animal print napkins and brightly colored dishware. Or couple English bone china with sterling silver flatware and linen napkins. Serve beverages in crystal stemware.

  6. Arrange a mix of freshly cut flowers in a china teapot for an impromptu centerpiece or float single blooms in china tea cups and put one at each place setting or line them up on your windowsill. Set a more formal tone with a bouquet of roses arranged in a cut-glass vase.

  7. Place cookbooks in large woven baskets. Organize recipe cards in smaller baskets. Store colorful vegetables and fruits like bananas, oranges and apples in wicker baskets. Keep them on your counter tops as casual focal points.

  8. Install wrought-iron or bamboo curtain rods and hang gauzy white curtains to emulate those that might have blown in the island breezes of a British Colonial home. Or choose bamboo blinds to let in the light while giving you some privacy.