Decorating your house for the festive period is one of the joys of winter. Whether you go for bright and bold or a simple Scandi style, here’s how to festoon your home with style.
Deck the halls
The Christmas tree is, of course, the main focal point of the season’s festive decorating with many of us having our own family customs and rituals surrounding adorning the spruce. While you can’t beat a real tree for authenticity (and that wonderful Christmassy pine scent), it’s worth noting that artificial trees have come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and are often the most practical choice.
If you are considering faking it, then look to Christmas Tree World, which stocks a range of innovative trees that really do look and feel real. For a traditional scheme, the Mountain Pine Tree is perfect with its abundance of rich, green foliage, while the pretty Snow-White Fir Tree is ideal for a charming ‘winter wonderland’ arrangement.
For something totally different – and thoroughly modern – Habitree offers a stylish alternative to the usual festive fir. The minimalist trees are made from Kebony wood and give an aesthetically clean finish with a sculptural appearance.
When it comes to decorating the tree, there are a myriad of styles to choose from with trends coming and going each year. The tradition of decorating a tree is a centuries-old custom, originating in Germany, and adopted by us around 170 years ago and is central to our Christmas festivities. For 2016, vintage kitsch is back – think bright, witty decorations in hues of purple, pink and blue. An ‘opulent luxe’ look is also bang-on-trend, with metallics, heavy embellishment, crystal and regal colours giving a maximalist feel.
For a wide choice of unique decorations and baubles, check out Sainsbury’s Christmas Cottage and Winter Cottage designs, which draw inspiration from villages and hamlets across the country, where log fires blaze and families start to gather for that special day. An idyllic scene that, no doubt, would be appealing to most.
Queen of Christmas
Designer Gisela Graham, renowned for her Christmas decorations, reveals what is on trend this year
“Christmas is, by definition, a traditional festival, so the customary colours and themes are going to predominate in 2016 as ever. While red, green and gold will once again be the popular colours for tree baubles, gold is changing. People are looking for lighter ‘champagne gold’ and ‘rose gold ‘.
Another strong trend this year is the peacock theme. People are using peacock feathers on Christmas trees, with toning blues, greens and purples. I put these together with gold, to create a glamorous ‘Gatsby-esque’, rather than exotic, look. By way of contrast the graphic, simple Scandinavian look is also a very popular with simple reds, whites and natural woods.”
Top tips for trees
Angela Reed is a noted home store based in Saffron Waldon. Owner David Reed gives his top three tips
- The most important objective of a Christmas tree should be to make one feel happy and relaxed, so don’t loose sight of that!
- If you want a more formal look, then stick to two or three colours that complement each other, such as white and silver, or black and purple.
- Referencing the natural world is always a winner. Berries, cones and fir are timeless and call to mind a Norwegian style. Add in a craft sensibility with a modern felt wreath or hand-made garland. Simple yet effective.
The Christmas table
It goes without saying that the highlight of the festivities is Christmas dinner, with many of us pulling out all the stops when it comes to styling our tables.
This year, black and gold are emerging as key colours. Harness a palatial style by layering your settings with mix-matched crockery, glasses of different heights and candles for maximum impact. The more twinkle the better. Giving a stylish addition to home entertaining are the black and brass hammered trays from India May Home (above). While, for a rich, opulent feel, jewel colours also work well. Match the faded gem-coloured goblets and drinking glasses, available at the Raj Tent Club (below), with crisp, white crockery for total impact. To elevate your turkey to another level, purchase the Vera Wang for Wedgewood Swirl Collection of gold-edged plates.
Karen Birchenough of India May Home, comments: “My table is often influenced by nature and simplicity. A pared-back look can still create a luxurious impact with a combination of the right colours and textures. Stick to no more then three colours within a tone and always include one metallic. Muted greys and monochrome works so well with silver. Bring the outside in, use pinecones, natural foliage and eucalyptus for its beautiful scent. Add sheepskin hides to the back of the chairs for a cosy chalet feel and always light an abundance of tea-lights.”
Setting the tone perfectly – and the ideal piece of furniture to fit all the extended family around – is Furniture Village’s chic St Moritz dining table. Laden it with crystal glasses, fine china and beautiful linens sourced from Cambridge-based Susie Watson Designs.
Elma Malik, dining and cabinets buyer, at Furniture Village, comments: “When dressing your table this year, opt for understated elegance, and use touches of forest greens and muted gold accents to complement classic white tableware. To give your table setting a palatial feel, evoke a sense of subtle grandeur by using well placed mirrors and metallic to off your dressed table. Candlelight alone will add seasonal ambience so make a strong centrepiece out of contemporary candlestick holders or a singular candelabra. To finish, delicately place pinecones and berries along the runner of a long table, or around the centrepiece of a round table.”
When it comes to full-scale parties, however, consider the latest luxury paper-plates, napkins and disposable cutlery available from Talking Tables (above). “Break free from the usual Christmas colours,” says Clare Harris, managing director. “A dark grey or even black tablecloth creates a dramatic, glamorous backdrop and shows off your table decorations more effectively than white. Texture and tonal variation is key to creating an interesting table.”
Richard Eaton, Denby Pottery’s head of design, advises on setting your table
NO RULES – Have fun and play with different settings to ensure your personality shines through.
BE ECLECTIC – Not every product has to match, why not add in patterned accent plates or a statement bowl?
ENHANCE THE SENSES – Use herbs or evergreens to introduce a natural, festive feel to the table and add plenty of candles for atmospheric lighting.
From catwalk to home, velvet is big news this season. Give a nod to the trend with velvet cushions in popping colours or invest in a glamourous statement chair, like those available at Jonathan Adler and Sofas and Stuff. A cosy, luxe look is what you are after – so add in faux fur throws, like those at Shimu, soft rugs underfoot and twinkling chandeliers.
“Chandeliers are perfect if you are looking to make a statement with lighting,” confirms Simon Wallis-Smith, director of Fritz Fryer. “Hang one over a dining table so that the bottom is around 70cm from the table. This looks stunning and means you can get away with a larger fitting than normal as you don’t need to walk underneath.”
For rugs, check out the gorgeous new Ted Baker range for Brink and Chapman. Made up of rich hues in contemporary designs, and made with pure wool, the statement pieces are custom made to order. Designs – such as ombre and paisley – are inspired by the designer’s AW16 collections.
Interior designer Joanna Wood has a range of ornaments and home accessories on offer, ideal for prettying up your home, and gives her tips on creating the ultimate welcome for Christmas:
“There is nothing I love more than a faux fur throw over a sofa to make a room cosy and welcoming at Christmas. You can never go far wrong with scented candles, either, to create that magical Christmas atmosphere. If you place festive tea-light holders around the room in addition to scented candles, the tone you create is immediately a festive one. For table decorations, mantelpieces or small pieces of furniture, I love to add branches or small faux trees decorated with non-breakable decorations like feather birds which not only look delicately stunning, but will last for the whole Christmas period.”
WHAT I’M BUYING THIS MONTH
TIME FOR PEACE
Polish Nativity Scene, from £15, Raj Tent Club
‘The Alpes’ Cushion, £30, Bow House Lifestyle
Vinter Candle Set, £38, Ross & Brown
CUP FULL OF CHEER
Wedgwood Tea Cup Decoration, £25
Wooden Hanging Star, £64, Scandi Living
GLASS HALF FULL
Deer Tree Bell Jar, £15, Marks & Spencer
Felt Christmas Wreath, £45, Angela Reed
LIGHT IT UP
Copper Blossom Tea Light, £39, Be & Liv
SERVE IT WITH STYLE
Emma Bridgewater’s Joy Robin Mince Pies Plate, £11, Bicester Village
STAR OF WONDER
Copper Wire Star, £4.50, Barker and Stonehouse
This article is also in the December issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine