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.’
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.