Crafted Christ­mas

Matt tex­tures, lay­ered ta­blescapes and whis­pers of earthy colour pro­vided by na­ture and set against bone white make for a serene Christ­mas set­ting.

Good - - CONTENTS - Words Mandy Allen/ Bu­reaux. Pho­tog­ra­phy Greg Cox/ Bu­reaux.

Cre­ate your most serene Christ­mas set­ting yet

Ableached-out pal­ette, raw fin­ishes and an aes­thetic that bor­ders on the monas­tic are the hall­marks of this cap­ti­vat­ing Cape Town home. What makes this sanc­tu­ary-like habi­tat even more re­mark­able – given the com­plete ab­sence of bright colours or lus­trous tex­tures – is that its owner, Al­gria Fer­reira-Watling, is one of South Africa’s most in-de­mand make-up artists whose port­fo­lio of clients in­cludes Solange Knowles and Char­l­ize Theron. It would be fair to as­sume that some­one in the busi­ness of ‘paint­ing faces’, as she refers to her artistry, would have a predilec­tion for colour as well as ma­te­ri­als and objects un­der­pinned by a glam­orous ar­ti­fice. But she has al­ways had a rebel spirit, typ­i­fied not only by a look that is pared-down, fresh and in­nately edgy, but also her in­stinc­tive re­jec­tion of trends, mass con­sumerism and as­pi­ra­tional yearn­ings.

Bare walls in bone and grey hues, orig­i­nal wooden fea­tures that have been sanded down and left un­var­nished, a lim­ited but mean­ing­ful se­lec­tion of per­sonal ef­fects and dec­o­ra­tive objects dis­played in thought­ful vi­gnettes as well as low-key lux­u­ries in the form of can­dles that per­fume the air and gen­tly worn pure linen throws cul­mi­nate in a whole that is ef­fort­lessly lay­ered and emo­tion­ally af­fect­ing. The source of Fer­reira-Watling’s in­spi­ra­tion can be traced to her child­hood: “I come from a poor back­ground. We didn’t have ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions, but there was al­ways so much love,” she ex­plains. “I work in an in­dus­try founded largely on tra­di­tional no­tions of beauty and con­sump­tion, but I’ve never de­sired ‘things’. My dream was only ever to live with my fam­ily in a mod­est house that had a feel­ing of tran­quil­ity. Why would I de­sire a palace when what I have is per­fect?”

While Fer­reira-Watling pur­posely keeps the house in a state of vis­ual con­sis­tency through­out the year, Christ­mas brings the chance to cre­ate a sea­sonal at­mos­phere for her hus­band Derek, son Dax and close friends and fam­ily – a mood that is fes­tive while stay­ing true to her serene aes­thetic. No flashy store-bought trin­kets or tin­sel here, no pine or fir in the cor­ner of the liv­ing room, and no ta­ble cen­tre­pieces com­posed of roses, poin­set­tias or hy­drangeas. In­stead, the cus­tom­ary tones and ac­cou­trement are sub­sti­tuted by the muted greens and oth­er­worldly forms of na­tive plant sprigs and woody herbs dis­played as free-form wreaths, float­ing in re­pur­posed glass bot­tles hold­ing ele­gant ta­per can­dles. Gifts are wrapped sim­ply in white or brown pa­per and fin­ished with twine. Traces of shim­mer – this is Christ­mas af­ter all – serve to high­light rather than over­whelm: a fine dust­ing of edi­ble cop­per glit­ter on a ‘naked’ cake; gold craft wire bind­ing fo­liage gar­lands left hang­ing from door­knobs; dried protea flow­ers and blue gum seed pods spray-painted in an­tique gold; and vin­tage King’s Pat­tern cut­lery, pol­ished only slightly to re­tain its mot­tled patina. “Things found in na­ture, objects that have had many lives al­ready, the soft wrin­kle in a piece of linen… this is a con­stant source of in­spi­ra­tion for me,” says Fer­reiraWatling. “Christ­mas calls for lux­ury, but there’s no right or wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what that means. Faded and evoca­tive or full-on and fes­tive, as long as what you see

makes you happy.”

“Christ­mas calls for lux­ury, but there’s no right or wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what that means.”

Above: This Christ­mas tree is an agave flower, given a coat of gold paint and ‘planted’ in a glass vase filled with beach sand. Gifts are wrapped in brown pa­per and plain newsprint that has been scrunched into balls then flat­tened to mimic crushed linen. They are fin­ished with loosely wrapped twine, woody herb sprigs and gold-painted seed pods. Op­po­site: Wine and cor­dial bot­tles are filled with wa­ter and fo­liage sprigs, then used as can­dle­hold­ers. Seed pods are painted an­tique gold to add a bit of un­der­stated bling. The ta­blescape is an­chored by an over­sized linen table­cloth. Rough- edged linen nap­kins are tied with twine and pil­lar can­dles are wrapped in gold craft wire. Monas­tic benches and vin­tage wire gar­den fur­ni­ture, gen­tly rusted by the el­e­ments, pro­vide seat­ing. The whim­si­cal wall gar­land is found flora, lashed to­gether with twine and gold craft wire.

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