Cool or trad? It’s time to pick your decorating tribe
Over-the-top maximalist, uber-minimalist, cool Nordic or totally trad? Jessica Doyle spots this Christmas’s decorating trends
With Advent well under way, this weekend is when many of us will be dragging an unwieldy netted tree home from the farmers’ market, wrestling with fairy lights and foraging for pine cones and holly berries. When it comes to choosing your decorating theme, the options have never been so varied: tinsel is back, but garlands made of pine and eucalyptus tap into the trend for natural materials; tones of navy and copper are of the moment, but all-white and light never really goes out of fashion; and traditional painted baubles are jostling for attention with kitsch cacti, llamas and unicorns. So which is your decorating tribe?
Christmas is not a time for restraint. A maximalist decorator will overrule any notions of colour co-ordination, go all out and release the sparkle.
American designer Jonathan Adler is not one for holding back on colour, pattern and glitz. “Nothing’s sadder than a wan display of ‘festivity’ during the holidays,” he says. “Think of your home at Christmas like an outfit your eccentric, rich aunt might wear, and layer, layer, layer. Add gold, sparkle and baubles. As long as you start with a chic foundation, it will work.”
The explosion of colourful, nontraditional tree decorations that have hit the shelves are the perfect way to experiment: try John Lewis ( johnlewis.com), which has gone large with baubles, with themes ranging from Winter Palace (wolf heads, peacocks and babushkas) to Tales of the Maharaja (miniature Buddhas, elephants and leopards).
For an easy, inexpensive way of adding maximum impact, try hanging paper garlands, tassels and pom-poms from Talking Tables (talkingtables.co.uk), which come in a variety of colours and sizes. “Iridescent decorations are particularly effective at picking up the light, creating shimmering cloud-like formations,” says Clare Harris, the brand’s MD. “More is always more.”
This style of decorating certainly doesn’t have to be boring or sparse. However, it can also mean deciding on a single look and sticking to it. For lighting and product designer Lee Broom, who created this year’s spectacular Christmas tree at Aqua Shard in London, comprising 245 glass pendant lights, seasonal decorating is for having fun and doing something different. “It’s all about creating a theme and running with it,” he says. “My decorating style will change from year to year, which I think is important. Last year we had a real tree, 14ft high, decorated quite traditionally, but all very oversized and surrounded by lots of candles and brassware. The year before, a more contemporary pink theme with a fibre-optic tree and huge flocked pink baubles.”
This year, however, he will be taking more of a purist’s approach: “There will be lots of smaller trees, rather than one big one, all scattered around the home like a mini forest, and all in white.”
If this is your preferred style, try The White Company (thewhite company.com) for clear glass baubles, porcelain and beaded tree decorations, mercury-glass candleholders and a choice of tasteful white fairy lights.
Should you want a cosy look that still feels stylish, make like the Scandinavians and go for muted tones with plenty of natural texture: glass tree decorations, wool and linen throws, sheepskin rugs flung over chairs, and plenty of greenery.
For designer Ilse Crawford, it is a time to embrace her Danish heritage and bring the outside in. “We always have natural wreaths in the studio – I think they are lovely things, quite poetic,” she says. “I prefer an abundance of natural materials, rather than lots of glitter.”
Pine, holly or bare twiggy branches can be arranged on mantelpieces or over door frames, but if you want to be really on-trend, go for eucalyptus.
If you don’t have a garden filled with natural materials to plunder, go faux with garlands and wreaths made from fake fir, pine cones, berries and birch, from Cox & Cox (coxandcox. co.uk) or M&S (marksandspencer.com).
Interior designers Nicole Salvesen and Mary Graham, of Salvesen Graham (salvesengraham.com), “both love a traditionally styled home at Christmas, with lots of colour and pattern”, says Nicole. “I like to use decorations and tableware that have been collected over time and have sentimental value: hand-painted baubles from your first Christmas, tables full of coloured glass, and beautifully embroidered table linen that has been handed down through the family.”
Liberty (libertylondon.com) should be your first port of call to achieve this look: its tree decorations feature depictions of the Royal family (including the corgis), and the shop’s head of creative identity, Liz Silvester, suggests tying scraps of ribbon and fabric around Christmastree branches for a traditional, haberdashery-inspired effect.
Scandi dining style from Neptune, left, and a traditionally styled tree from Liberty, below