From old favourites can spring new ideas for adding festive colour and fun to your home, says interior designer Jamie Hempsall.
With less than a fortnight left before Christmas, the time has come when everyone should be joining the throng and getting their house adorned for the Festive Season.
One of the wonderful things about this time of the year is that Tradition never goes out of style; in fact, it can be a positive boon. There is a wonderful feeling to unwrapping boxes of carefully packed Christmas Decorations (if you have followed the advice given in this column!) to re-greet old favourites from years gone by.
A carefully co-ordinated designer tree can be a thing of beauty; one look in the window of the likes of Harvey Nichols will set any style conscious Christmas decorator drooling. However, there really is often nothing quite like a melange of brightly coloured family favourites crowded together.
The eclectic approach also has a number of key advantages, your decorations will never look the same two years running (unless you have a photographic memory), any member of the family can get involved in putting up the decorations (so hard pressed Mums and Dads can get a few hours peace and quiet whilst older children take over) and it does not need to cost a fortune to change your Christmas look.
An evolving set of decorations, with a few old ones retiring as a small selection of new ones are added, is the perfect way to create family traditions and memories. Each year members of my family exchange new Christmas decorations with each other. This means we have the joy of carefully choosing (or making) a decoration for another loved one, seeing it in pride of place on their tree and enjoying the memories that are evoked as we look over the various family trees.
Little Robin from Sarah Moore Vintage, £28 (01428 707678)
The High Street echoes this joy of the traditional and also the on-going trend for interiors with a more natural feel. This is something that is often seen when economic conditions are less than certain as people enjoy the comfort of the familiar and also realise the value of quality and longevity, rather than glitzy disposability.
Iron Finish Metal Hanging Star £9 (www.artisanti.com)
More natural materials such as wool, felt, paper and even iron are in evidence in many collections this year. These perfectly complement home-made decorations and could well be destined to be heirlooms of the future. Whilst price points may be on the higher side, a well-made Seasonal Adornment will stand the test of time and even prove to be cost effective in an age of austerity!
Green Tree Felt Placemats, £11.95 for two (www.iapetus.co.uk)
Leave no stone unturned (or shelf unadorned) in your adoption of Festive Chic. Does one tree in the corner really cut the mustard? Hardly! Let the decorations impact every area in your home. You can, of course, go the whole hog and drench your home in baubles and lights, but a delicate hint in a room (for instance, one or two larger ornaments in a children’s room or a ceiling decoration in the kitchen) will help extend the feeling of cheer throughout the home.
Christmas cushions are also the perfect temporary decoration for sofas, occasional chairs and beds. The great thing is that they have high impact, but are simple to clear away – you could even just invest in cushion covers that you exchange if you do not have the space to store a pad as well.
Adding small Christmas themes to each room cements your scheme throughout the home and also avoids your guests feeling that Christmas is contained solely in one room – an experience many people get when exiting a highly decorated living room to go to an unadorned kitchen or bedroom.
Alpine Cushions, from £67 (www.janconstantine.com)
Why display Mistletoe?
Mistletoe is considered a symbol for peace and joy. In many cultures it is imbued with all manner of miraculous qualities. It is said to have the power to heal diseases, give fertility and bring good luck and great blessings.
One of the explanations for kissing under the mistletoe is said to emanate from quarrelsome Norsemen. If they encountered an enemy near mistletoe they laid down their weapons and called a truce until the following day. This eventually led to the tradition of hanging mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.
Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer.