The White Company
Bath interior designer, Clair Strong, shares her ten top tips for decorating your home for the festive season
Every year I spend December decorating my home for Christmas. I love making every room warm and welcoming for drinks with friends, meals with family and guests coming to stay. Here are my top ten tips for making your home ready for the festive season.
Add a wreath to your front door
December is wreath spotting season. I love walking around Bath and looking at all the different wreaths on doorways. For me, nothing says the start of the festive season more than the tradition of hanging a wreath on my front door. I love to make my own wreath with foraged greenery. There are wire wreath kits everywhere. All you need is some florist wire and some imagination. Look for holly, ivy, pinecones and winter herbs and add bright berries and bundles of spices like cinnamon for a lovely natural wreath. Alternatively, go mad with painted baubles and make a colourful wreath that kids will love to help make.
Decorate the hallway
Even if you are not hosting Christmas this year, decorating the hallway instantly adds a festive welcome for anyone visiting you, even if it’s just the postman!
Make a welcoming entrance by decorating your hallway and, if you have one, your staircase. I spend ages picking ivy from the hedgerows to wind around my bannisters, but there are also lots of incredibly realistic faux garlands which look wonderful draped over a mantelpiece or wrapped around a staircase.
I also like to wind fairy lights around the banisters to create a sparkling welcome every time I open the front door. The finishing touch is to pop some fake tea lights in lanterns on the hallway shelf to create a pretty festive atmosphere.
Buy yourself a winter scented candle
Smell is one of our most powerful senses and, for me, scented candles are essential for creating a festive atmosphere. Choose scents that are traditionally Christmassy like pine, fig and oud. Every shop now creates a special Christmas candle, and I can’t wait to light my first one every year. A couple of my favourites are The White Company Winter candle and Diptique’s Feu de Bois. Light your candle every time you get home from work and your home will smell like Christmas every night! Festive candles also make fabulous presents.
Get out the winter textiles
Over the Christmas break, I love to have plenty of spots around my home to curl up with a hot toddy and a good novel. Blankets and throws layered up on your favourite sofa will create a cosy atmosphere. Look for different fabrics, textures and colours to create contrast and interest; chunky wool, fur and thick velvet fabrics are perfect for adding natural warmth.
Make sure you add lots of scatter cushions to sink into and, if you have lots of guests, buy some big floor cushions to create extra lounging spaces.
Add some Christmas colour
If you are going to buy new blankets and cushions, why not look for warm tones to make your home feel festive?
Rich jewel colours like deep navy blues, forest greens, dark pinks and dramatic plums are very on trend and will bring warmth to your interior scheme. The depth and richness of these colours creates a cocoon-like effect that works perfectly during cold winter months.
Create a festive glow
Candlelight plays a big part in creating a festive atmosphere. I like to use lots of candles to create that warm festive glow. Dotting clusters of church or column candles around a room will spread out the light and warmth and add a bit of drama to the space.
On the Christmas dining table, arrange candles along the middle, varying from chunky candlesticks to more delicate glass votives and tealights to give the space a lovely soft glow.
Graham and Green
Graham and Green
Make your kitchen a sociable space
At Christmas, the kitchen becomes the heart of the home where I spend most of my time - cooking family meals, socialising with friends, entertaining neighbours and mixing up the drinks. I make a few changes to my kitchen at Christmas to make it more of a welcoming sociable space than a functional room. I move a couple of small armchairs into my kitchen to create an inviting spot for guests to relax with a pre-dinner drink while I cook. I also like to layer grey and white sheepskin rugs on my dining table chairs and benches for a ski-lodge vibe. A Scandi style candelabra on the kitchen table and some rustic place mats add to my Nordic vibe. Lighting is also key; install dimmer switches (a simple job for any electrician) so you can dim your kitchen spotlights for enjoying intimate Christmas dinners.
Get table scaping
For me, Christmas is the time to pull out all the stops when dressing the dining table. There are so many themes and so much inspiration on Instagram you can go crazy. Try to work out your look and stick to it rather than mixing and matching different themes – although Christmas is also a time just to throw out the rules and go full on Maximalist!
Do you love Scandi, Glam, Rustic, Colourful or Boho? Once you’ve chosen your theme you can go for it! I like to go for it with gold and silver metallics, sparkling crystal ware and iridescent accents. A wonderfully eclectic look is to mix and match vintage silver candlesticks with coloured glass and mismatched dinnerware. I have lots of linen tablecloths and napkins, pretty placemats and napkin rings that I bring out every year to make the table look really special. I think you always need to add a few unusual tabletop items that add drama – a gorgeous flower display or a statement candelabra.
Style up a drink’s cabinet
When I was a child, every dining room had a drinks cabinet full of bottles of spirts and glassware, ready for drinks parties over Christmas. Recreate that look with a vintage sideboard or trolley or buy a bar cart on the high street – Graham and Green, Soho Home and Cox & Cox all have great versions. Style them up with pretty glasses ready for cocktail hour and you’ll create a fabulous focal point. I look for Instagrammable bottles of spirits, add a selection of different sized glasses, my bar utensils, a cocktail mixer and an old school crystal decanter. A bowl of fruit and some herbs add a touch of style. Now you’re ready to make cocktails for all your friends!
Decorate your patio or garden
Don’t forget to decorate your outside space. Add a heat source and you’ll have an extra room. Fire pits are perfect! Besides warming up cold guests, a fire pit is a wonderful place to gather around and toast marshmallows and drink mulled wine. Add lighting like festoon or fairy lights, add throws, and blankets to snuggle up in. To light your space, choose from hurricane lamps and lanterns for the table and solar lights for lighting up pathways.
With just a few small changes, you can transform your home into a perfect Christmas-ready home this winter.
If you are looking to revamp your space, working with an interior designer will really help you use your budget wisely and create a look that feels cohesive, pulled together and will stand the test of time.
We are a friendly, boutique business based in Bath, providing a range of interior design services for residential and commercial projects. With over 15 years experience, we work with a trusted network of professionals and trades offering complete design and refurbishment. From city centre apartments and retail units to large Georgian houses, our portfolio includes projects of all sizes. Our ethos is to take a collaborative approach with our clients, working with them to create spaces that meet their needs, improve their lives, and exceed their expectations.
You can see many of the projects I have worked on since 2006 on my website at www.clairstrong.co.uk or click the buttons below.