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

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page -

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 ( john­, 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 (talk­ingta­, 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 com­ for clear glass baubles, porce­lain and beaded tree dec­o­ra­tions, mer­cury-glass can­dle­hold­ers and a choice of taste­ful white fairy lights.

Nordic cool

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. or M&S (mark­sand­

To­tally tra­di­tional

In­te­rior de­sign­ers Nicole Salvesen and Mary Gra­ham, of Salvesen Gra­ham (salvesen­gra­, “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 (lib­erty­lon­ 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

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