THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Christmas baking is a much-loved festive tradition for the owners of this Danish villa
For jewellery designer Julie Wettergren, the festive season begins in October. ‘I put raisins and nuts to soak in rum for the Christmas biscuits that we always bake,’ she says. ‘The children, Conrad, 10, and Telma, seven, and I go hiking in the woods where we collect cones, moss and branches for our decorations. We can’t wait for Christmas to start but we do this in secret because we always promise my husband Christopher that we won’t begin preparations before the end of November.’
Julie starts on her baking projects early, because each year the family makes a beautiful gingerbread house to celebrate Christmas. ‘ We bake one weekend, do the icing the next and assemble everything on the third weekend,’ she says. ‘It takes weeks to get a gingerbread house built.
‘Christmas baking is a tradition I grew up with, and I love sharing it with my children. It creates an expectation of what’s to come and gives me quality time with my family, away from all the technology and screens.’
It’s no wonder, then, that the kitchen is a key room in this elegant villa. It was also the only one that needed an entire renovation. ‘ We loved the charm and soul of the house when we first saw it, but the kitchen was completely worn out,’ says Julie.
Replacing it with low-level units painted black kept it in line with the decor in the rest of the house. ‘I love decorating with black and grey because it gives the rooms some depth,’ she says. ‘I’m not a big fan of lots of bright colours, but I love contrasts, and natural light.’ There are no curtains throughout the house, which allows light to
Favourite room ‘ I love the sitting room, where we spend quality time together’
flood in. ‘since we have trees and nature all around the place, we never use anything to cover our windows,’ says Julie. ‘ We like light, and although we have blinds we never use them so i’m actually thinking of taking them down.
‘i’m very much into detail and like to think that i’ve decorated the whole house with personality and charm. i’d describe my style as vintage with a touch of nostalgia and some modern twists, and i enjoy unearthing antiques in flea markets all over the world.’
at Christmas, the dramatic decor here comes into its own and provides a chic background to the sparkly pastel baubles that Julie decorates the tree with. ‘When i bring out the decorations it reminds me of my childhood,’ she says. ‘the things i’ve inherited from my family have soul, and to me that means cosiness and security. Every year, the children and i buy a slightly more expensive bauble to hang on the tree, creating new memories for the future. We buy a new tree each year – one with roots, so it can be planted in the garden afterwards. Gradually we are creating our own small forest in the back garden.
December is a time for special gatherings in this household. Christmas Eve is spent with Julie’s extended family – they eat duck, dance around the Christmas tree, and exchange presents. Christmas morning in Denmark is quiet and spent with the children.
the family love their home, but with two growing children and a dog, they are keen to have more space. ‘We may create an extension in the next year or so,’ says Julie. ‘ We love living here, surrounded by beautiful countryside, so we certainly don’t want to move.’
My inspiration ‘I look up to my dad, a furniture designer, who made our table’
stairs The diamond wallpaper on the stairs is a striking focal point. helene blanche harlequin raw gold tcw wallpaper, approx £123 a roll, tapet Café, achieves this effect
sitting ROOM Helped by the children, Julie created the intricate gingerbread house, as well as cookies, meringues and homemade chocolate truffles. ‘I do all the baking with my kids,’ says Julie. try the biscuiteers DIY gingerbread house kit, £34.99, Selfridges