ALL-OUT GLAMOUR Colour and sparkle in a Victorian villa
In this home on the south coast of England, colour and sparkle are used to create the perfect festive feel
After living by the seafront in her previous home, Poonam Sharma was keen to remain close to the beach when she moved, so location was key when she was househunting. There were a few other important caveats, too. ‘Space was also very important to us – before moving here, I lived in a ground-floor mansion flat, and got used to having plenty of room,’ says Poonam. ‘Low ceilings were a definite no-no.’ So, when she and her partner Paul viewed this house in Hove, they fell in love with the large rooms and high ceilings, as well as the traditional features of the property, such as the original cornicing and fireplaces. Plus, the house was just a five-minute walk from the beach and local amenities, such as coffee shops, bars, restaurants and schools. ‘It ticked all the boxes for us,’ recalls Poonam.
There was also potential to extend the property, creating a living space that suited the family’s needs. A new kitchen, shower room and boiler were installed, while one of the bedrooms was turned into a walk-in wardrobe. ‘I had to spend quite a few months persuading Paul that this was a good idea – he wasn’t a fan to begin with!’ remembers Poonam. ‘But now, without a wardrobe taking up space, our bedroom feels much bigger and more spacious.’
When it comes to decorating, Poonam is ‘always faffing around and changing things’ – her current projects are the redecoration of Zachary’s bedroom, to make it look more grown-up, and a revamp of the study. ‘I love Pinterest and interior design magazines,’ she explains. ‘My style is constantly evolving, but I nearly always fall back to mixing modern pieces with vintage and mid-century finds.’
Poonam would like to extend the kitchen to the side to create more space for a sofa. She feels this would be ideal for the family Christmases at home – a time that revolves around food preparation in the kitchen. ‘Christmas in our house is simple, as it’s usually just the three of us if we stay at home,’ says Poonam. ‘I’m a vegetarian, but Paul isn’t, so we always have to cook two Christmas dinners!’
Decorating the house for the festive season is a family affair, with the preparations starting in the first week of December. ‘Before having Zachary, I’d leave it until just a week or so before Christmas,’ says Poonam. ‘But now that he’s here, the build-up is so much more exciting. We love having our decorations up – the longer we can keep them up for, the better!’
The Christmas tree is the focal point of the family’s living room, with a smaller tree taking centre stage in the kitchen dining area. Traditional-style, prelit fir trees from Balsam Hill are the first choice for this busy family, but if it were up to Zachary, they would be celebrating around something a little less conventional. ‘Zachary has said he wants a Lego Christmas tree,’ laughs Poonam. ‘Now, where am I going to get one of those from?’
Poonam uses antique-style Christmas decorations in metallic tones, and, like most interiors enthusiasts, she’s particular about their placement. ‘Now that Zachary’s older, it’s his job to help decorate the tree, which he loves. But when he’s gone to bed, I end up rearranging the decorations, because he sticks them on in random places,’ she laughs. Candles also feature heavily in this home at Christmas, creating a warming ambiance and filling the house with festive fragrances.
As with every family, there are rituals that Poonam, Paul and Zachary enjoy each year. ‘We have a strange tradition in our house – we wrap potatoes up and hide them under the tree,’ laughs Poonam. ‘When Zachary wakes up, he gets to unwrap a few, and we tell him Santa sent him a potato for each of the times when he did something naughty – for example, when he threw his plastic cars out of the bedroom window. It’s a bit mean, but it makes us chuckle, and makes him appreciate his actual presents!’
Poonam’s key piece of advice for a stress-free Christmas is not to take it too seriously. ‘I’ve known people to get really stressed out about Christmas, but we like to stay chilled and relaxed,’ she says. ‘We try to keep things simple, because I hate that feeling when the decorations and the tree come down, and everything around the house feels so bare. It’s important to enjoy it while it lasts.’
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