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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