Design Profile Creatives talk tables
Three inspiring style setters reveal how they design their own festive dining scheme
Creatives talk tables florist Nikki Tibbles, retail expert Mark Winstanley and designer Jonathan Adler reveal their slick tricks for creating an inspirational festive dining scheme florist Nikki Tibbles, retail expert Mark Winstanley and designer Jonathan Adler reveal their slick tricks for creating an inspirational festive dining scheme
‘Candles and twinkling lights create atmosphere and a palette of white, soft silver and greenery works in any home’
MARK WINSTANLEY RETAIL EXPERT
Although he originally trained as a textile designer, Mark has spent his career in retail, working for various international lifestyle brands developing and evolving their ideas. His current role as chief creative officer for The White Company chimes perfectly with his neutral and elegant approach to style. Here, Mark reveals how he creates a warm and welcoming Christmas scheme in his West Sussex cottage.
How would you sum up your style at Christmas?
My focus is on making the house feel welcoming and comfortable – candles, roaring fires and as much greenery as I can gather from the garden, with white hyacinths and narcissus scenting the rooms. It’s natural and not too colourful, which somehow manages to take the stress out of last-minute preparations.
Does the type of event you’re hosting determine how you finish your rooms?
For me, it’s all about creating an overall mood for the house and making sure each room has a focal point. A particular event only really determines how we style the table. This is guided by how many guests we have and what we are planning to cook.
What’s your advice for working with neutrals?
Keep it simple and have a consistent style throughout the house so that nothing jars. Candles and twinkling lights create atmosphere and a palette of whites, soft silver and greenery works in any home, whatever its style. Remember too, that neutrals need some subtle contrast, such as varied textures, something natural. Think of it as layering for the home.
What’s the best way to build a Christmas scheme?
Think about the trees first. They make the most impact, so how you decorate them is key to setting the style. Keep it simple by choosing three or four decorations along with a mix of tree fillers, in other words, a few statement pieces with lots of smallerscale ones. For a softer, more natural look, use white porcelain, handmade felt and zinc decorations. If your style is more ‘sophisticated sparkle’, choose antique mercury glass and jewelled pieces.
How do you bring texture to a table?
We use old French linen sheets cut in half for our table – they add that lovely knobbly texture. Elements of greenery layered with the napkins continue the theme of bringing the outdoors in and make each place setting feel unique.
What’s your favourite festive flourish for a table?
We live in an old house with beams, so I like to take advantage of this and have either a hanging branch or canopy of greenery above the table. This creates a real statement in the room, but also keeps the table free for us to indulge in delicious food and wine.
Which other shops are your go-tos for finishing touches?
Besides The White Company, we try to shop locally, so will buy flowers from Anna at Quince in Brighton, pick up something lovely from Alex and Zoe at Igigi in Hove and visit Liz at No1 in Lewes for antiques.
And if you weren’t going to be at home for Christmas dinner, where would you have it?
Last summer, we went to a wedding in Normandy at an Arts and Crafts house called Les Bois des Moutiers, designed by Edwin Lutyens with a garden by Gertrude Jekyll. The interior is stunning and would be a wonderful location to host a Christmas party.
CLOCKWISE FROM THIS PICTURE Mark covers his tables in old French linen sheets. For an alternative place setting, use a tree segment sourced from your local florist as a charger. Artisan Stoneware dinnerware, from £10; Luxury Fine Fragrance cracker, £60...