What's Make A British Colonial Style?

British Colonial style originated in the West Indies, Caribbean, India and Africa in the era of the British Empire and colonisation. A blending of traditional British style and the local designs and materials available in these tropical destinations, British Colonial style symbolises the beginning of globalisation, travel and exploration.

The Highlight

Drawing inspiration from the British Colonial interior design style, Propstation introduced the Noir Blanc Colonial Style that comprises ~ Traditional Colonial Style, Modern Colonial Style, Tropical Colonial Style and Coastal Colonial Style. A blend of island life and English sophistication.

This collection is fairly flexible with any interior design concept to go with from Traditional to Modern to Tropical and everything in between without compromising on elegance, that can bring your home back to life, reminiscing and learning from the stories of the past.

The merging of these varied styles created a unique timeless home interior design that you can easily embrace the enduring look in your own home.

The Brief History

British's Colonial Style

British Colonial style is a style created by the British explorers of the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries, also known as the ‘Age Of Discovery’, where explorers discovered the America’s, the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India and East Asia. These pioneering explorers created a unique interior style, with their travel- influenced characteristics.

  • Leather trunks, light, fold-able bamboo chairs which they planted between heavy, dark timber furniture.
  • Sketches of local flora and fauna adorned the walls.
  • Plantation-style fans and furniture were abundant and in keeping with the hot and humid local destinations.
  • Styling often included artefacts collected from their travels - Chinese ginger jars, tropical indoor plants, orchids, animal prints and skins, and seashells.

Singapore’s Colonial Style

In the late 1800s to the early 1900s when Singapore was under British rule, these beautiful Black and White houses featuring dark timbre beams against white walls were built to house British high-ranking officials as well as rich businessmen or plantation owners. The houses are called Black and Whites because of their white-washed exterior walls and black wooden beams or trim.

However, during the Japanese Occupation, they were abandoned and the Japanese took over. With urban development and land price increasing, most of these houses are demolished today.

The Characteristics

How Can You Bring The Look Into Any Home Designs?

The key is by keeping colours fresh (whites over creams and beige’s); balancing heavy, solid furniture with light, ‘leggy’ chairs and pieces; using tropical indoor plants with oversized foliage, to add life and energy to a room; and using subtle texture to add an earthy charm (via natural jutes, raw timbers, marble, seagrass, and sea-shells.

This classic, timeworn look can look a touch antiquated while at the same time appearing relaxed and comfortable.

The Color Palette

The Colonial paint colors include modest earth tone colors such as white, creamy yellow, almond, ochre, reddish brown, dark brown, beige, taupe and muted green. These colors were common because the pigments for the dyes came from natural resources such as plants, soil and minerals.

The neutral palette with classic browns and golds is a good foundation for building a British- Colonial inspired room.

  • Neutral and Light shades of White are characteristic - making it cooling in warm climates
  • Dark coloured timbers, cane, mahogany and rattan provided contrast
  • To balance warm wood tones with cool colors like blue or slate gray
  • Greens and blues are reflected in the soft furnishings, hand-blocked prints and artwork

The secret is finding a balance between color and neutrals bringing welcome balance to your home.

Key Elements for A British Colonial Style

While all these options can be used today, British Colonial style are fairly flexible with
whatever design you choose to go with from Traditional to Modern and everything in between!

1. Light and Dark Timber:

    • A colour palette of dark timber and white is the first step for a British Colonial design style.
    • Dark timber floors are a major feature, originating from native Asian and African woods like teak, ebony, mahogany. Today the staining of timber floors can achieve a similar effect.
    • The crispness that results from contrasting dark wood with light fabrics is the most significant element in creating an authentic replication of British Colonial.
    • Four poster and half tester beds are a hallmark of this style, not in the traditional English sense but in a more paired back and contemporary adaptation.
    • Oversized comfortable sofas and large rattan chairs with rattan and timber side tables complement the look.

2. Natural Textures:

    • Texture is vital to British Colonial design. Rattan, reed and sisal add an interesting contrast against traditional darker furniture.
    • Woven window shades, rugs and wallpapers can all help add depth, interest and texture.
    • Plantation style day beds and colonial style chairs are the perfect furniture for a British Colonial space – the neutral warm brown of teak mixed with rattan gives an instant Colonial look.
    • Woven grass baskets for storage add a great detail, and natural sisal is the ideal covering for bare floors.
    • Using texture to add contrast against darker furniture is one of the key signifiers of this style.
    • Tan tones helped integrate the light walls and dark floor and furniture.

3. Shades of White:

    • Light and neutral shades form the framework for a British Colonial interior.
    • These airy hues were originally incorporated to create a cooling environment and combat the tropical heat.
    • White contrasts beautifully against darker furnishings.
    • White washed walls help to make a space feel light and airy in the harsh, tropical heat, with lightweight and sheer cottons and linens are used as window coverings to filter the light whilst keeping rooms bright.

4. Foliage and Greenery:

    • Faux Plants and Greenery belong everywhere in a British Colonial home. In the garden, on the verandah and in every room of the house.
    • They create a bold, fresh contrast to dark wood and white.
    • Choose the right type of plants though – think tropical. Big green leaves like palms and ferns are important – steer away from soft English forals.
    • Palm fronds, whole palm plants, orchids and hibiscus flowers freshen up a space and help to bring it to life.
    • The rich dark greens from large graceful indoor palms grace the British Colonial rooms.

5. Eclectic Prints:

    • The softness and lightness of whites and sheers are beautifully highlighted with an eclectic blend of lightweight fabrics to create a classic British Colonial feel. Layer textures and colours with a mix of cushions and throws – botanical prints, paisleys, ikats, batiks and animal prints create an interesting story.

6. Exotic and Botanical Prints:

    • Palm trees, vibrant florals and animal prints feature heavily and evoke memories of exciting times of adventure and discovery. Introduce them in subtle ways by adding a few cushions to an all-white couch, or go all out with a wall covered in an eye-catching jungle mural or botanical-themed wallpaper.

7. Collectables:

    • A colonial lifestyle was a globe-trotting lifestyle, and the collection of items from exotic locations helped to create the layered look of a British Colonial style.
    • It’s important to mix together a wealth of eclectic accessories, sitting classic English pieces like Fine china, crystal and silver alongside carved pieces, globes, maps, telescopes, letter-writing boxes and memorabilia.
    • Vignettes of books topped with candles, magnifying glasses and other accessories that look like a collection of trips and experiences create an old-world travel-inspired look.