Familiar treasures and vintage finds make Christmas decorations extra special for the owner of this 1930s semi.
‘I never think too hard about Christmas décor, it just kind of comes together,’ she says. With changing ideas about how to dress her home for Christmas, year-on-year staples include spruce and pine, and a stunning dining room Christmas mantle display.
‘I also make wreaths for inside and the front door. With these in situ and the tree up, the house smells wonderful,’ she says.
While today the home is the vision of vintage charm, when they bought it, the house needed quite a bit of cosmetic work to take it from a brash 1980s look to one more sympathetic to the property.
Removing the 1980s decor
Even though it was somewhat smothered by wallpaper, heavy curtains and carpet when the homeowners first viewed the property, they could see it had plenty of potential.
Stripping back layers of paint and gently adding architectural features, such as salvaged fireplaces, wall panelling, and reinstating picture rails, then painting in a soft, neutral colour palette, has turned the family house into a warm and welcoming home.
The owners did most of the hard graft themselves to create an interesting, atmospheric and cosy interior.
Embracing faded grandeur
The homeowner's taste in furnishings and décor has taken a giant leap back in time from the simple and functional post-World War II pieces to the comfortable yet grand look and feel of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras.
‘I just adore the colours, textures, textiles and shapes found in the homes of these times,’ she says, ‘and I particularly embrace 18th- and 19th-century Scandinavian and French influences.’
Her décor choices here lean towards faded grandeur and shabby chic, with a nod to times gone by and a delightful sense of nostalgia.
Creating a cosy living room
They decided in late 2022 to install a wood burner in the living room, ready for Christmas. It meant rebuilding the hearth, which resulted in the plaster coming off, something which initially caused concern.
‘I didn’t want to be left with a red brick wall, but as soon as our brilliant builder took the layers off, I loved the result. All of a sudden we had a feature we hadn’t expected!’
The exposed brick wall looks set to stay, and the homeowner spent hours brushing the bricks with washing up liquid and bicarbonate of soda to achieve the faded look she wanted.
The Christmas living room has a curated vintage look. A champagne basket is an attractive alternative to a regular tree stand and a large ticking bow completes the look.
Over the years, her Christmas tree ideas have included dressing it in tartan, dried oranges, and simple white lights. More recently, she’s favoured a distinctly vintage look. ‘Last year I began a collection of mercury glass baubles and tassel trim remnants – I love how the light catches the glass and how the trim looks swagged,’ she adds.
Dining room transformation
There was a lot to do with the dining room when the family moved in. The dark wallpaper and border were stripped, and a faux marble fire surround was removed and replaced with a salvaged one more in keeping with the owner's style.
Like the sitting room fireplace transformation, this job uncovered issues which led to the owner chiselling off the plaster and exposing the original brickwork, a finish she is very happy with.
The owner's signature look of rustic meets faded grandeur comes into its own in the Christmas dining room scene. The scrub-top wooden farmhouse table is dressed with elegant 19th-century French tableware.
Rustic benches with cushions covered in French grain sack linen make relaxed seating, and a deconstructed antique chair creates an air of faded grandeur.
Farmhouse style kitchen
A farmhouse-style kitchen brings a homely look to the space with weathered wooden cupboards, a scrub-top farmhouse table and mismatched chairs, including some antique chapel chairs.
The kitchen was originally a little bland so the owner painted kitchen cabinets to give them to give them a new lease of life and updated the handles, then added wall panelling made from moisture-resistant MDF to inject more character into the room.
The small room off the kitchen has been completely remodelled to act as both a pantry and laundry room. A high shelf made using old wall brackets found at a car boot sale and a weathered sleeper plank found in the garden, provides storage space for jars and jugs, while a cupboard curtain hides the washing machine.
Vintage bedroom schemes
When the family moved in, the front-facing bedroom was floor-to-ceiling 1980s pink and white wallpaper, with matching curtains.
With walls and wardrobes now painted in Yeabridge Green by Farrow & Ball as a green bedroom idea and a pretty salvaged cast-iron fireplace fitted, the room soon felt fresh and cosy and now has a lovely vintage bedroom feel.
The owner would have preferred to rip out the fitted wardrobes that came with the house; however, working on a tight budget, she decided to give them a makeover instead, painting them the same colour as the walls.
A length of trailing fresh ivy and some green candles add an understated festive touch as Christmas bedroom decor ideas.
Another bedroom is a pretty wash of white with some antique touches, including oil paintings and an ornate Victorian part rattan bed with barley twist uprights topped with decorative scrolls and flowers, a Facebook Marketplace find.
The owner uses oil paintings to add character and narrative to rooms. They work especially well in an all-white room like this one
A vintage eiderdown and white pillowcases add comfort and make this white bedroom a dreamy place to awake on Christmas Day.
Words: Alice Roberton
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Rachel Crow is a senior content editor, contributing gardening content for idealhome.co.uk, and is currently the acting editor of Ideal Home’s sister title, Period Living magazine. She was deputy editor of Period Living for 10 years and has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on historic houses, arts and crafts, and gardening. Rachel started out her journalism career on BBC radio, before moving into lifestyle magazines. Always harbouring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, and more recently the wider Ideal Home team.
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