De­sign Pro­file Cre­atives talk ta­bles

Three in­spir­ing style set­ters re­veal how they de­sign their own fes­tive dining scheme

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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.

(the­white­com­pany.com)

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...

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