Forget less is more, at Christmas it’s all about maximalism when it comes to dressing your rooms. Mix and match opulent baubles, woodland garlands and faux-fur accessories to add layers of festive magic to your home.
The concept of storytelling is integral to our notions of Christmas. The creation of magical worlds, as seen in fairy-tales for instance, is mirrored in us decorating our homes for the season. Glittering colours, traditional iconography and sweet woodland themes (think jolly Santas and rosy cheeked reindeer) are key.
Red and white Scandinavian-inspired crockery, as seen at Sainsbury’s (0800 636262, www.sainsburys.co.uk), sets the tone when family and friends come round to dine together. “The Happy Holiday tableware range is an effortless way to dress your table this Christmas,” says Hannah Mallett, Sainsbury’s Kitchenshop buying manager. “The pattern edge, reminiscent of cross-stitch and knitted snowflake motifs, makes for a festive hit.”
The range also includes Christmas cushions, throws and bedding for a cohesive look. “We’ve been inspired by the bold and energetic American approach to Christmas. Bright reds and whites combine with hand-written slogans, Argyll knits and heart-shaped patterns create a modern and vibrant Christmas look,” adds Anna Sheppard, seasonal buying manager.
At homeware boutique Adventino (01529 307812, www.adventino.co.uk), prancing deer decorations, pine-cone candles and twinkling pearl light garlands combine for a charming effect. “It’s very easy to be inspired by the wintery scenes outside when you’re decorating for Christmas,” says Amanda Darley, director of Adventino. “From deep, sumptuous green to glossy red and gold, there’s something timeless and classic about this style, which makes it ideal for this time of year.
“Combining these colours with warm, flickering candlelight and carefully arranged lighting is the perfect way to create a magical and seasonal feel in any room. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, make this a focal point with gorgeous woodland garlands and beautiful details such as pine-cones, nuts and acorns. It’s a beautiful way to add a festive touch with nature’s best creations.”
Ark Cambridge (01223 363372, www.arkcambridge.co.uk), meanwhile, is a one-stop shop for quirky finds – ideal for a unique twist on the traditional. “What better way to celebrate the festive season than with mystical woodland animals?” says owner Jane Richards. “Baby hedgehogs, china birds and owl decorations have an innocent charm and are perfect for kids and adults alike. They will warm anyone’s heart this winter.”
Also in Cambridge is HomeSense (www.homesense.com), which specializes in a luxury look for less and is full to the rafters of ornaments and décor – think wooden sledges to ‘Hunting Lodge’ glass cloches – for the ultimate seasonal home.
Meanwhile, for a modern take on the nostalgic theme, source decorative accessories from home emporium Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443, www.outthereinteriors.com). Owner Jenny Hurran gives her tips: “Christmas is a magical time – no matter what your age the festive season conjures up memories of childhood fairy-tales, Father Christmas and cosy woodland creatures. I love nothing more than to recreate a winter escape with a traditional tree, comforting reds, golds and greens, a crackling fire and majestic reindeer to complete the look. No matter what your home style may be, the beauty of Christmas is that it’s temporary, so indulge your inner child and go bold with a festive theme, because it will all be back to normal again in January!”
BRIGHT IS BEST
While an all-white colour scheme is the epitome of good taste, the latest trends – as predicted at Christmasworld in Frankfurt (the annual trade extravaganza that happens in February each year and which dictates the way we dress our homes at Christmas) – centre around clashing brights and new neons. Turquoise, copper, mint and pink pillar candles, for instance, replace the usual white and red wax. While tree baubles, wreaths and garlands, in hues of purple, fuschia and frosted blues, hark back to a retro 1960s Christmas style.
Stocking bright candles and candelabras, Jane Richards at Ark Cambridge (01223 363372, www.arkcambridge.co.uk) is already one step ahead of the trend: “Use luminous colours to create a super-festive, funky home,” she says. “We’ve designed our own candelabras for a perfectly unique look – just imagine your Christmas table lined up with them in beautiful colours. Scented candles using old wine and champagne bottles are also proving popular.”
Perfect for creating a bright, cheerful scheme are the array of primary-coloured children’s stockings, nativity sets and tree surrounds available at the Great Little Trading Company (0344 848 6000, www.gltc.co.uk).
A visit to Tesco (www.tesco.com) is also worthwhile with the supermarket tapping into the ‘bright is best’ trend. Stock up on nutcracker soldiers, ‘Bar Hum Bug’ cushions and oversized tinsel letters for a modern-day look to festivities. For a bigger investment, but stylish enough to remain in vogue all year round, check out the brand’s 1970s-style neon pink Jemima Tub Chair (£129) with grey button-back detail.
Experts in colour, Farrow & Ball, with a store in Cambridge (01223 367771, www.farrow-ball.com), advises that blue – as opposed to reds, greens or golds – is the perfect winter colour to use as a starting point.
Josephine Rance, marketing director, comments: “With the move into autumn comes the approach of Christmas; a time filled with visits from friends and family, and a time when you want your home to look and feel warm and inviting. Blue is a colour strongly associated with winter and Christmas, and it can really reflect festive cheer. Choose a strong, warming shade like Stiffkey Blue or Hague Blue. The depth of this colour creates a fashionable and contemporary interior that remains inviting. Team with silver and gold accessories and you’ll be well on the way to creating the perfect environment for celebrating. “
Polar bears, owls and penguins – the arctic world meets the nocturnal with countless tree decorations, homewares and adornments being decorated with charming depictions of the creatures.
Queen of Christmas, Gisela Graham (www.giselagraham.co.uk) – renowned for her eclectic and colossal choice of decorations – offers a range of ornaments inspired by the natural world with birds – such as owls, robins and peacocks featuring prominently in her new collections. “The ox, the ass and the lamb have always been part of the traditional Christmas story,” says Gisela Graham. “But while you won’t see too many oxen and donkeys on the nation’s Christmas trees, there are other animals in plenty this year. The ever-popular deer and reindeer are joined by cats, dogs, hedgehogs, squirrels, song-birds, peacocks and pheasants. Top of the list is the owl and the fox. We say the more the merrier!”
She continues: “I’m finding that more people these days want a break from red and gold. The peacock colours of teal blue, purple and jade green are more and more popular and people have liked a frankly jazzy range that I’ve developed using magentas, lime green, saturated pinks and purples. Yes, Christmas is a traditional festival – but you can move with the times in celebrating it.”
Meanwhile, at Cambridge-based vintage store Homestuff With History (01223 357810, www.homestuff-with-history.com), it’s all about recalling motifs from the natural world. Owner Kathryn Brown says: “Christmas is the most wonderful time of year to style your home. Obviously, we are inspired by nostalgic items as many of our products are vintage. From tins decorated with images of traditional Santas, to antique glass baubles, there’s something about Christmas that brings back memories of old. The animal kingdom is an integral part of timeless Christmas decorations, tying in with folklore and images and motifs from the natural world. Reindeers in particular bring a unique charm and childlike innocence that we all want to call upon, even if it’s just once a year.”
There’s more to the festive season than just glitzy Christmas décor. For the ultimate winter retreat, make your home cosy and comfortable as the nights draw in and the days get colder.
Layer soft velvet throws, like those available at Ragged Rose (01622 812897, www.raggedrose.com), with Nordic Reindeer Hides underfoot, available at Scandi Living (01428 608050, www.scandiliving.com). Add in Alpine-themed or Noel-festooned cushions from Jan Constantine (01270 821194, www.janconstantine.com) and light your rooms with aptly scented candles like Cosy By The Fire or Sparkling Snow from Yankee Candle (0117 316 1260, www.yankeecandle.co.uk).
Interior designer Joanna Wood’s store (020 7730 5064, www.joannawood.co.uk) is also an excellent source of faux-fur throws, quirky cushions and essential draught excluders. “One of my favourite things about this time of year is being able to get out lots of lovely wool, alpaca and faux fur throws and light a spiced orange or ginger scented candle to stay warm and cosy,” she reveals. “I like to use lots of rich colours, including reds and oranges mixed with pinks, greens and purples to create a comforting palette.”
Velvet armchairs and sofas in bold, jewel hues, like those available at Sofa.com (0345 400 2222, www.sofa.com), make for a bold yet timeless statement. For something extra special, Sofa Workshop (0800 230 0048, www.sofaworkshop.com) has collaborated with Liberty to create the Ives chair, which uses Liberty’s latest Secret Garden fabric collection.
Megan Holloway, marketing manager at Sofa Workshop, says: “Classic golds and silvers are great for Christmas design schemes, but for 2015 take inspiration from the wider colour spectrum and introduce bright punches of colour. Decorative furniture and accessories with colourful contrast will create a cosy environment perfect for welcoming family and friends into. Tactile textures are still a key consideration going into Christmas and the soft velvet of the Secret Garden Collection collaboration with Liberty is a great choice to create a luxurious look.”
Another interiors collaboration, which is fitting for the season, is Brintons pairing with Timorous Beasties (0800 505 055, www.brintons.co.uk). A leading manufacturer of high-quality design-led woven carpets, the brand has created a range of stunning designs with the help of the cutting-edge ethos of the Glaswegian design duo. Inspired by drawings of wood grains, as seen in the Grain du Bois, and geometric texture and floral shapes, in Linen Damask, the results are thoroughly modern, swirling carpet designs.
Jay Ralley-Jones, head of Brintons’ Design Team, confirms the new trends: “For many years plain carpet has been the carpet of choice, however for AW15 we are seeing a return to patterned styles in on-trend dark pinks and purples.”
Dial up the cosy-factor further by investing in a wood-burning stove, like those available from Morso (www.morso.co.uk) and add in some faux-fur accessories for the perfect night in. Cushions, throws and bean bags, like those available at Bean Bag Bazaar (0800 988 1286, www.beanbagbazaar.co.uk), give the ultimate wintery feel.
Bean Bag Bazaar’s creative director Jayne Dolder gives her take: “When it comes to cosy nights indoors, aim to create a living space that is so inviting that you long to come home to it. An easy style update is to add a few matching accessories to your existing furniture. Choose a luxurious texture such as faux fur in items such as cushions, throws and bean bags and your living space will instantly become the heart of the home; full of warmth and ready for relaxation.”
Take a style lesson from New England inspired homeware brand Lexington Company (www.lexingtoncompany.com), which uses a mix-match approach, with traditional plaids, stripes and checks, in their home accessories.
Creative Director Kristina Lindhe reveals more: “I took a fantastic winter tour in the Adirondacks a couple of years ago. That’s what was in my mind when we created our latest Holiday Collection. Inspired by the thick deep snow, tall fir trees, secret hideaways with huge fireplaces and large beds made up for a long night’s sleep – the perfect holiday escape in a winterwWonderland.”
For inspiration closer to home, pop into Susie Watson Designs in Cambridge (0844 980 8185, www.susiewatsondesigns.co.uk). The store offers a range of home accessories, gifts, pottery as well as a unique Christmas collection. Giving her advice, Susie Watson says: “A mixture of rich colours and soft textures creates the perfect intimate Christmas setting. Combine soft velvet cushions in deep purples and greens, with a Shetland Wool throw in complimentary colours for a really inviting sofa that you won’t want to leave.”
BLACK AND WHITE
For those opposed to the riot of colour that is Christmas, why not consider creating a distinctive black and white scheme to give your home an edge this season? Black is increasingly finding its way into festive accessories and it can look grandiose and dramatic offset against white decorations and glittering lights.
Sally Chamley, owner of glamourous interiors boutique Black Orchid London (01772 923858, www.blackorchid.london) agrees: “Monochrome continues to stand the test of time for the simple fact that it works with every colour pallet. The inclusion of black and white can also be used to create structure in varying degrees of impact. Achieving the best balance of black and white can be tricky, I ask clients to decide what they want the dominant colour to be. Black or white? If white dominates then black should be used only to pick out detail, create borders and introduce accessories. Books are a great way to introduce the colour, select ones with a black spine and white cover and pile them on the coffee table. Only 20% of the fabric and wallpaper detail should be in black. You will lose the impact if you start to introduce other colours, for monochrome to work it has to be symmetrical and only black, white and some neutrals, silver can also be used.”
When it comes to homewares to last, create a foundation with statement pieces of furniture in white or black. Shimu (0800 088 6800, www.shimu.co.uk) has a range of covetable black lacquered tables while Delcor’s (0191 237 1303, www.delcor.co.uk) chic black velvet Georgian Wingchair gives the necessary drama. Contrast with modern enamel pendants in black or white from Fritz Fryer (01989 567 416, www.fritzfryer.co.uk) and monochrome rugs from Scandi Living (01428 608050, www.scandiliving.com).
For a classic piece of furniture, you can’t go wrong with the Evergreen chair from Ercol (www.ercol.com), which comes in a timeless design of black lacquered wood with white upholstery. “When choosing a colour scheme for your home, you really can’t go wrong with black and white,” says Ercol’s creative director Rachel Galbraith. “A monochrome theme is both practical and creative in the sense that monotone pieces will always go with each other and will sit well with other colours and textures. So, when thinking about introducing a festive look to a room, a black or white piece is the best starting point and can be used as a basis for added colour – for example, the ubiquitous red and green for Christmas, to bring festive cheer. The piece will continue to provide a dramatic, contemporary element to a room and will remain visually pleasing all year round. The Evergreen chair from Ercol is a perfect example of a piece which will enhance any room, is versatile enough to work with new pieces, and will complement the addition of festive touches.”
In terms of these festive touches, it’s easy to create a monotone scheme that is eminently simple yet contemporary. Source oversized black paper honeycomb and white paper flower decorations from Rockett St George (01444 253391, www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk). The contemporary home website also stocks black and white crackers, white wreaths and matt black penguin decorations. Add in a few festive elements such as shimmering lights and glass baubles from Pia (0844 499 5670, www.piajewellery.com) for a feminine touch.
“Monochrome is a timeless look that will add a crisp, sharp look to your Christmas display this year,” says Jane Rockett at Rockett St George. Stick with jet-black and ice-white to really make a statement or soften it all up by adding off white, ivory and soft greys into the mix. We love adding a touch of gold for a more glamorous feel, or a pop of bright colour for a fun contrast.”
Lastly, why not source own black Christmas tree (available at: www.xmasdirect.co.uk) for the ultimate in dramatic décor.