Whether you go for glittering, traditional décor or something a little more pared back, this time of year is all about letting your imagination run wild and festooning your home with cheer. Here I reveal the latest ways to prep your house for the festive season.
There’s something wonderfully elegant about a streamlined Christmas design scheme, especially when it’s centred around sparkling crystal and silver decorations. Touches of blue will reflect the icy tones and dark skies of winter and will also give a splash of colour to your interior. Look to using highlights of indigo blues, which are very much of the moment when it comes to wider home trends, meaning you can pick up many affordable items on the high street.
Sainsbury’s, for instance, has a wonderful selection of midnight blue baubles, as well as snowflake-inspired decorations from just £1. Laurie Houghton, Sainsbury’s (www.sainsburys.co.uk) seasonal buying manager, says: “Our Indigo Blue Christmas collection will transform the home this Christmas into a glittering midnight haven. We’ve bought together a palette of indigo blue, sparkling silver and snow white to give an elegant and timeless look.”
At online home emporium Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443; www.outthereinteriors.com), director Jenny Hurran suggests going one step further by investing in pieces of silver furniture, such as French chests and occasional tables. These are perfect for Christmas time but also give the home a hint of glamour all year round:
“With copper and brass continuing to enjoy popularity in the interiors space silver has taken a bit of a back seat,” she says. “But Christmas is the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with this super luxe finish. Chrome metal effect and silver leaf pieces sparkle under fairy lights adding wintery magic to your space. Combine with glassy objects and turquoise decorations for ice queen elegance.”
The White Company (020 375 89 222; www.thewhitecompany.com) is, as its name suggests, the go-to store for the ultimate accessories for the glam-ice look, from its heart-shaped stoneware plates and dishes to its silvered candle-holders. One effective way to achieve the scheme is to give your Christmas table a cohesive, pulled-together approach by using all-white china, white linens and white candles and highlighting with silver candleabras and clear glass baubles. For drama on the big day itself, festoon the table from above with The White Company’s wonderfully retro paper snowflake decorations, star garlands and bells (from £8) and you’ll feel like you’re eating in a snowy landscape.
This is a scheme to not hold back on, as there’s no danger of overdoing a white-on-white design, in fact a ‘more the merrier’ approach makes for a sumptuous appeal despite its neutrality. Stock up on affordable decorations at Asda (www.asda.com), which this year has a White Romance collection of angels, tree decos and beaded accessories. John Lewis also excels in glass birds, baubles and drops for the tree, from £3, with some particularly eye-catching pieces in turquoise blue (www.johnlewis.com). Make sure lighting is all-white to create a dreamy quality and, for real refinement, make sure the presents under your tree are all wrapped in the same colour scheme – white paper trimmed with metallic silver for soft sparkle. It will exude an air of luxury with relatively little effort.
An atmospheric place to source accessories and decorations is at Cambridge’s Burwash Manor (01223 260040; www.burwashmanor.com), a group of converted farm buildings housing 15 independent shops, a day spa and a tea-room. Here, you’ll find the Secret Garden’s Christmas Shop, a one-stop wonderland full of glittering decorations and homewares for the season.
“If you want your home to glisten like the first snowfall use cold colours, lots of light and add a hint of sparkle. Think blues, silvers and glass,” the team at the Christmas Shop advises.
WE THREE KINGS
Harking back to Dickensian times is a traditional colour palette of red, gold and green. So evocative of the Christmas period, this powerhouse trio of colours –chanelling the triumvirate that is the Three Kings – lends warmth to the home and also rouses the ultimate of festive feelings (even in the most ‘humbug’ of guests). The look particularly suits period homes so hang a classic wreath on your door and, if you have fireplaces, make the most of these spaces by placing garlands of greenery, tied with red and gold ribbon, on the mantelpiece – for a timeless look.
“These days Christmas comes in every colour, but nothing brings back the magic like bold, traditional colours,” comments Jenny Hurran, director of Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443; www.outthereinteriors.com). “Traditional doesn’t have to be boring though! Try a quirky centre-piece in bold red, or serve up hot drinks in green-handled cups. Swap your usual cushions for green, red and gold for an easy and effective festive update.”
Bernice Day, director of luxury homewares store Oliver Hayden (0844 3350710; www.oliverhayden.com) agrees: “You can’t go wrong with the traditional colours of red, gold and green to add some festive cheer to your room. But, as we don’t do normal at Oliver Hayden, we like to add some fun – whether it’s adding LED lights to traditional Christmas sayings, with our beautiful canvas collection, or by making a feature wall with our ‘blinged-up’ deer-heads.
“For the perfect present under £50, our vintage, fairground-inspired show lights are perfect,” she continues. “If stars are your thing, then we have it covered with our large star at £45 or the smaller design at £25.”
Based in the centre of Cambridge, Jack’s on Trinity (01223 354403; www.jacksontrinity.co.uk) celebrates the best of British, and is the place to source items for a traditional Christmas scheme.
Anne Bannell, owner, comments: “We love to celebrate Christmas with a touch of nostalgia and vintage style. We are therefore stocking up on Victoriana and retro decorations: think Dickensian, tradition and the cosy family Christmases we all love. From charming decorations to unusual gifts and stocking fillers, there is something for everyone and for every pocket.”
A red, gold and green colour scheme also lends itself to creating a showstopper of a Christmas table. Choose linens in traditional checks, stripes and tartans, check out Ian Mankin, renowned for its range of tickings and stripes (020 7722 0997; www.ianmankin.co.uk) and the Lexington Company for a choice of deep crimson tablecloths, blankets and retro-ski inspired pillows from its Lexington Holiday 2014 Collection (www.lexingtoncompany.com).
Expert in table décor is managing director of party-ware shop Talking Tables Clare Harris (020 7627 6767; www.talkingtables.co.uk): “Think scale when you’re creating a dramatic table setting. You don’t want to block guests’ views with huge candelabra or floral arrangements, but neither do you want your table to look too minimal. Baubles, battery-operated fairy lights and table scatter create an atmospheric glow,” she advises.
“After years in the design wilderness, gold is back with a vengeance. If you’re not keen on gold cutlery or glassware, paper tableware is an easy way to dip into the look. Once you’ve decided on your scheme, extend it beyond the table – hang garlands over the fireplace and tie baubles to chair backs for added flair.”
“Go through your cupboards in the run up to Christmas and collate your box of table dressing tricks. Gather everything you have in your chosen palette and create a 3D table runner down the centre of the table – from layered plates and tree decorations to coasters and cake stands, anything goes.”
Natural woods, pretty lanterns, folklore decorations and pine trees – a Nordic Christmas home-style is chic and heartwarming. The essence of this look is all things natural with pretty pops of red. Natural wood accessories, fir tree decorations and pine-cones are all intrinsic to the design.
Expert in the look is Gisela Graham, who is one of Europe’s leading makers of Christmas decorations (www.giselagraham.co.uk): “Scandinavia has even darker and longer winter nights than in north Germany where I grew up,” she reveals. “That must be why red is the most popular colour for decorating a Christmas tree and for Christmas ornaments and tableware. I love that simplicity of Scandinavian designs, red and white, based on old folk art traditions that have come down through the centuries.”
Lanterns and candle-light also lend a certain romance and cosy feel to a home at Christmas time and hark back to a Nordic sensibility.
Hannah Browne owner of Pastel Lane (www.pastellane.co.uk), an online home store, advises: “Candle light can be used to great effect during the winter months and the cosy, warm glow they give off is perfect for creating your own winter wonderland. Our ornate metal lantern looks beautiful holding a flickering candle, add a bit of foliage such as seasonal holly and berries for a lovely festive touch; they make for great table centrepieces or you can use them decoratively around the house. Candle stick pillars can also be dressed up at Christmas time; our rustic candle stick pillars are complemented perfectly with the natural colours of real foliage, berries and pine cones creating a traditional Christmas look that will never date – using pillars of varying sizes also makes for an interesting display.”
For a contemporary take on lanterns, look to jewellery designer Lara Bohinc’s (www.larabohinc.com) gorgeous collection of candleholders designed for Swedish company Skultana (www.skultana.com). Etched in brass, the graphic, metal-work designs are like jewellery for the home and look enticingly dramatic when lit from within.
For homespun charm, shop at Des Res Design (01386 793240; www.desresdesign.co.uk), which has a selection of pared-back decorations in the shape of wicker Christmas trees, wreaths and star lights. Online boutique Adventino (0845 120 3224; www.adventino.co.uk) also has pine-cone candles, wooden reindeer decorations and birch bark motifs which also fit the rustic Scandinavian theme.
Finally, achieve the ultimate in cosy-cool by adding in faux fur accessories, such as the throws and cushions by Helen Moore at gift website Cuckooland (www.cuckooland.com).
Cuckooland’s home furnishings buyer Nathalie Davis comments:
“Designers at Cuckooland.com recommend using faux fur to add instant warmth and rugged cosiness to a winter-themed room. The Siberian Wolf range by Helen Moore provides the ultimate in sumptuous arctic chic this Christmas.”
Lovers of opulence and glitz come into their own at this time of the year. After all, there’s no restraint on using rich velvets, jewel colours and dramatic embellishment at Christmas time.
“For a regal Christmas you need to focus on decadence using rich warm tones, a gold sheen and mix in some bright bold colours – reds, purples and burgundy. Lots of candles will add warmth and light,” say the team at Cambridge’s Burwash Manor Secret Garden Christmas Shop (01223 260040; www.burwashmanor.com).
Purples, golds and plum colours work exceptionally well together and for sheer drama why not opt for an alternative coloured faux Christmas tree, such as a gold or black version (available at www.christmastreeworld.co.uk).
Christmas tree decorations in royal colours are widely available this year. Asda, for instance, has a Hidden Treasures collection of sumptuous golds and purples, inspired by peacock tails and sophisticated gems (from £2, www.asda.com). While at Sainsbury’s, its Dreamscape Christmas is made up of vintage style decorations (www.sainsburys.co.uk).
“The opulent metallic and pink hues of the Dreamscape trend make for a fantastical and dreamlike aura this Christmas,” Laurie Houghton, Sainsbury’s Seasonal Buying Manager says. “High Gloss, glitter and beaded decorations help create a glamorous and luxurious feel for the home.”
For a longer-term investment, the ultimate way to play this theme out in the home is with opulent chandeliers, such as those available at lighting specialist Renaissance London (020 7251 8844; www.renaissancelondon.com) and jewel-coloured velvet tub chairs and sofas from Sofa.com (0333 220 4364; www.sofa.com) – all of which will look glorious all year round.
Kate Hassard, marketing manager for Sofa.com, comments: “Everyone has their own take on Christmas but using jewel colours is a sophisticated twist on the traditional. Adding decorations with a contemporary twist, using tasteful accents of bold colour and sparkle and rethinking the traditional layout of this scheme can make it look fresh.”
Finally, Jane Richards owner of gift shop Ark Cambridge (01223 363372; www.arkcambridge.co.uk) gives her advice on achieving the ultimate Christmas, no matter what scheme or trend you go for:
“Turn on the fairy lights, hang the tinsel wreath, spell out your greetings in aluminium letters, light a festive candle, slip into a luxurious dressing gown, pour the wine and give fantastic gifts to interesting people.”