Christmas time for the owners of this property is all about fun and creating a space that's personal to them. However, the house hasn't always been exactly as they wanted it. 'When we bought the house in 2011, our plan was to transform it from top to bottom into a lovely family home,' they say. 'We started with a rear kitchen-diner extension in 2012, then updated the bedrooms, and most recently the living room and garden. We hope to tackle the bathroom and extend into the loft this winter, too.'
When it came to the living room, painting over the dull and dated wallpaper was the first job. The owners wanted a bright, neutral backdrop, but fancied a change to the white running throughout the house. Grey was a natural choice, as it's a favourite colour of theirs and provides depth and simplicity to the walls. Next, the couple built shelving around the fireplace and splashed out on three-quarter height shutters to create the European look they wanted and let the light flood in.
Over the years, the husband and wife duo have become more confident about what they like, so the look came together pretty easily. Most of the house is a work in progress, as they prefer to let rooms grow organically over time, adding as they go. A tight budget and their interest in scouring antiques markets, charity shops and warehouse sales has naturally created a mix of old and new. Instantly falling for the intriguing lady's head picture on a lunch hour in London is one such example. 'It's over the mantelpiece and we never tire of looking at it,' they say. 'Its multifaceted design and muted colours have made it central to our scheme.'
1/8 Living room
Now that the living room is all set and Christmas is on its way, the owners and their children are looking forward to enjoying the festivities in their lively and happy new space.
A sore point for the owners was always the fireplace, which had a speckled beige stone surround and shiny brass grate. 'We couldn't justify ripping it out, so we revamped it instead,' they say. 'We started by painting the surround in white masonry paint one evening and then decided it needed some age and interest. After hours of bidding on eBay, we finally won a vintage grate for 99p. The only downside was that we had to collect it from Brighton, which is 50 miles away.'
3/8 Divider screen
The screen is used as a divider to section off different parts of this open-plan living space, while keeping it as light as possible. With its intricate detailing, it makes a pretty feature and creates a cosy corner for reading. A brightly coloured bird garland, patterned cushions and blue pom-pom fringing on the floor lamp add to the homely feel.
4/8 Wall decorations
Antique finds have been given a festive twist with a bauble garland and clip-on birds. Decorations don't have to be confined to your tree - this innovative way of working them onto the wall spreads the Christmas spirit around the room. And because birds and pom-poms aren't season specific, there's no reason why they can't be enjoyed at any time of year.
5/8 Christmas tree decorations
These colourful Christmas tree decorations may not be typical of what you would expect to see on a tree - after all, ice cream vans, parrots and frogs make you think of a tropical holiday rather than a snow-filled landscape. However, they look fabulous and just go to show that anything bright and lively will get you into the party spirit.
6/8 Quirky touches
This quirky duo are from Rockett St George and have been given pride of place on top of the fireplace near the owners' favourite picture. They're sure to be a talking point, with their striking appearance. Bear in mind that unusual Christmas decorations such as these will work best if your overall scheme is neutral. That way, they won't be competing for attention with a brightly coloured paint or wallpaper.
Hare and stag decorations
Rockett St George
7/8 Living room from other side
Here you can see the layout of the house and how the living room flows into a snug-type area, which is partially separated by the screen. Whereas a door would completely divide the two spaces, and thereby block off light from the other side of the house, the partition screen provides a decorative effect, while letting the living area benefit from the extra sense of space that's visible above it and to the side.
8/8 Fireplace decorations
Lettering and motifs are a big trend right now so this Noel sign will certainly look the part. The fact that it lights up is an added bonus, as it will create a beautiful twinkling effect by night that's much safer than candlelight. A bit of greenery adds to the festive feel of the mantelpiece - as the focal point of the living room, it's the ideal place for Christmas decorations that need to be seen.
Get the Ideal Home Newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter for style and decor inspiration, house makeovers, project advice and more.
Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.
Pro Breeze 30L High Capacity Smart Dehumidifier review – tried and tested
Our Pro Breeze 30L High Capacity Smart Dehumidifier review puts one of the most powerful dehumidifiers on the market to the test. Here's why we recommend it for major damp problems
By Rachael Penn
This wooden kitchen is a masterclass in creating a timeless, but contemporary space perfect for a family
With careful planning, this kitchen has been turned into a colourful, family-friendly space
By Marisha Taylor
There's still time to claim £150 off your energy bills using the Warm Home Discount – here's how
What you need to do now to apply to the scheme
By Thea Babington-Stitt
This beautiful Victorian townhouse is the epitome of timeless elegance, and is full of sparkle for Christmas
This interior stylist has decorated her home in a timeless style that will grow with her family
By Nicky Phillips
This beautiful 1930s semi has gone all out on a very vintage Christmas matching its post-war grandeur
Vintage finds and natural decorations fill this Edwardian home with faded grandeur at Christmas
By Rachel Crow
Neutrals with a hint of sparkle are the perfect Christmas mix in this stunning family home
A relaxed, neutral colour scheme makes a stylish setting for festive decorations and cosy Christmas get-togethers
By Lisa Fazzani
This living room is the ultimate inspiration for decorating a small space for Christmas
A super-colourful living room provides the perfect festive canvas for this Christmas-loving homeowner
By Laurie Davidson
'The Holiday cottage' is available to rent on Airbnb - there's still space in January
It's the quintessential English cottage that inspired Iris's home in The Holiday
By Rebecca Knight
This new-build has been given a colourful transformation just in time for Christmas
A blank canvas and free rein to decorate allowed the homeowners to get creative and put together a bright and bold space that’s the perfect party house
By Lisa Fazzani
This dining room has been given a cosy upgrade ready for the festive season
From cold glitzy grey to warm sophisticated neutrals, this room got the pizazz it needed to make it just right for entertaining
By Laurie Davidson
Decorating your tree? Be inspired by the Queen's gloriously gold Christmas tree
Sandringham might be off the cards, but Windsor castle is already decorated to perfection
By Rebecca Knight