10 style tips to steal from our Houses Editor's own home, all decked out for the festive season

This house has gone from run-down period property to flexible space for both entertaining and family life

Christmas tree with presents on the floor, next to traditional fireplace with stockings
(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Ali Lovett, Ideal Home's very own Houses Editor lives in a beautiful three-bedroom Edwardian terrace in Aldersbrook, east London, along with her husband, Rob, an advertising executive, and their two children (age six and three) – plus their mini schnauzer, Betty.

Decked out in glorious festive decorations, this character-filled house looks simply stunning. Let's take a closer look at how the couple transformed this run-down property, and packed it full of clever ideas. We've pulled out lots of style-savvy tips that will help you recreate Ali's designer-style look in your own home.

blue front door with Christmas wreath

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

1. Go bold for maximum impact

Christmas tree with presents on the floor, next to traditional fireplace with stockings

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Ali and Rob weren't afraid to be daring in their decor choices. The striking blue living room is vivid but tasteful, and they love the result. ‘We use this space for grown-up relaxing and listening to music, plus there’s a WFH desk in the bay window,' Ali says. 'I love the dark shade of blue – it feels cosy and calm.' 

They also swapped their modern(ish) hearth for a traditional fireplace design. 'When we moved in, the original fireplace had been replaced with an ugly 1970s gas fire, so when I saw a huge Georgian surround on eBay, I went for it. We recently added a gas stove, which heats up in an instant.’

2. Create spaces for styling

grey kitchen cabinets with red star on top

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

'As part of my job I style photoshoots for magazines, so I’m constantly moving things around and packing them up to use on a job,' Ali explains. She wanted to bring this versatility forward when styling her own home too.

'I love being able to change things around so I purposely added lots of surfaces, hanging rails and picture ledges throughout the house. It refreshes things in an instant – especially at Christmas when I can add decorations everywhere.’

Ali and Rob also chose an extendable table and a sofa that splits in two so they could switch up as and when they needed.

3. Mix budget buys with statement pieces

grey sofa with pink cushions under hanging star decoration

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Ali and Rob were determined to make the kitchen look expensive on a budget, and they managed to do just that. 'To keep down the costs, our kitchen is Ikea but we upgraded it with statement handles, a concrete-style worktop and honed marble tiles as a splashback.'

Ali adds, 'the flooring is wood-effect tiles rather than the real thing, which was a fraction of the cost and conducts the underfloor heating really well.’

4. Refresh a space with artwork

grey sofa with pink cushions under wall of prints

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Artwork is an easy way to breathe fresh air into a space, and Ali took full advantage of this when decorating.

'The peachy-pink gallery wall has been framed with a wide edge of dark colour to give definition to the space. I swap the prints from room to room because I like to refresh the space regularly – this works because they are all hung at random heights.'

5. Use bold accent colours

Christmas tree with red decorations in living dining area

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Ali is a big advocate for using bold accent colours to a neutral backdrop, especially at Christmas. 'As our kitchen extension is fairly neutral it means I can add plenty of vibrancy at Christmas. Being able to mix in an on-trend colour by adding a few new baubles, paper decorations or the odd cushion cover transforms the space, without spending a fortune.’

'When it comes to Christmas, more is more! Decorating at all heights creates a full look,' she adds.

6. Mix in fresh foliage

staircase with white Christmas stars and garland

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

If you're on the hunt for budget Christmas decorating ideas, fresh foliage is perfect. It brings an authentic festive atmosphere into the home, and you can pick it up for free by foraging in your own back garden.

Ali used a faux, pre-lit stair runner as a quick way to transform the staircase, attaching it with cable ties. 'Then I mixed in fresh foliage to give it a lift – which was all foraged locally,' she says. 'I love decorating with large paper stars and graphic shapes – they take minutes to string up and make a great visual impact.’

7. Vintage finds add character

vintage bedside table next to double bed with grey bedding

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Though Ali's home is looks expensive, she thrifted a lot of her furniture second-hand. ‘I visited flea markets and furniture fairs for a lot of my furniture – our bedside cabinets were from my favourite place, Sunbury Antiques.'

'Vintage pieces add far more interest, plus it’s often a fraction of the cost compared to buying new,' says Ali. 'Just go armed with measurements and an open mind!’ 

8. Be inspired by boutique hotels

four poster bed in white bedroom with prints on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

‘I loved the enormous four-poster bed in the room we stayed in at a hotel called Artist Residence in Brighton – it totally influenced my choice and many years later this one still makes our bedroom feel like a boutique hotel,' Ali says. 'A muted colour palette, subtle patterns and tactile textures makes it an inviting, grown-up space.’

9. DIY updates transform a space

white cot in nursery with blue wall and prints

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

When it came to nursery ideas, DIY projects and resourcefulness took centre stage. ‘I painted the walls using leftover emulsion, and used tester pots to add colour to the window architrave,' Ali explains. 'And I popped pages from children’s books and greetings cards into picture frames. Things don’t need to cost a fortune, it’s all about being creative.’

10. Visual tricks can really stretch a space

white tiles and black grouting in small bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nathalie Priem)

Needing ideas for small bathrooms meant Ali had to choose her colour scheme carefully. 'This room is tiny but very tall, so I chose a dark colour for the ceiling and floor. It’s a decorating trick that makes things feel close to you, so the room looks more in proportion.'

Working upwards rather than across is a clever decorating trick which makes small spaces look bigger. 'The vertical tiles and tall, thin mirror draw the eye upwards. I couldn’t find a vanity to fit the small space, so it’s actually a vintage record cabinet. I added legs and sealed with yacht varnish to ensure the wood will cope in a damp environment.’